Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), one of Japan’s largest shipping companies, is to increase the roll-out of Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress Service, across the remainder of its owned and managed fleet. This underlines the confidence placed in the high-speed satellite service by major shipping lines and reinforces the scope of the digital transformation sweeping the industry.
The Japanese shipping company was among the earliest adopters of Fleet Xpress; deploying Inmarsat’s global high-speed broadband connectivity on the majority of its Car-Carriers in 2016, shortly after the launch of the next-generation service. Currently it has over 100 vessels installed. MOL will now install Fleet Xpress across its managed and owned fleet of Bulk carriers, Tankers, Pure Car Carriers, and LNG carriers.
Fleet Xpress has emerged as the market-leading pathway to digital transformation, which is being adopted by shipping companies in order to deliver improved vessel and fleet efficiency, boost profitability and enhance seafarer wellbeing.
The fleet-wide commitment aligns strongly with MOL’s newly disclosed plans to scale up its digital activities. The global fleet operator sees the Internet of Things (IoT), in combination with advanced data analytics, as offering huge potential for improvements in safety, efficiency and environmental impact, driven by guaranteed, continuous connectivity on board its ships.
“There is no doubt MOL believes that digital technology can have a profound impact on vessel operations and its broader business objectives. Fleet Xpress lays the foundation for the successful realisation of its smart-shipping ambitions by bringing together greater bandwidth and high resilience in a seamless, fully-managed service,” says Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Maritime.
Exemplary of the types of project that will only be enabled through satellite communication connectivity has been MOL’s partnership with Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding and Weathernews on the new Fleet Optimal Control Unified System (FOCUS) platform. In its initial stages, FOCUS will see detailed voyage and engine data gathered from 150 vessels and stored in the cloud, where it will be available to build sophisticated analysis tools for improving operational efficiency and propulsion performance.
MOL comments: “As Satellite communications technology has grown dramatically over the past decade, we have adopted VSAT from an early stage, for email communication and sharing of images between ship to shore and now we can also monitor equipment. The continued roll-out of Fleet Xpress will help implement our Forecast maintenance solutions through our FOCUS platform and we will continue to develop our use of satellite communication in the future to help to continue to digitalise our vessels.”
New engine health monitoring and fault diagnostics, “digital twins” that streamline vessel maintenance management, augmented reality and other remote visualisation techniques that enrich ship/shore interactions are among a range of trailblazing ideas under consideration.
“Reliable connectivity between ship and shore is critical for these tools to work to maximum effect,” adds Spithout. “Fleet Xpress meets the requirement through its unique, fully integrated dual capability of high-speed, high-capacity link on Ka-band together with high reliability back-up services on L-band.”