Ground-breaking Hull Skating Solutions: A revolution in proactive hull cleaning

Source: press releases/press conference

Jotun HullSkater, the first robotic technology that has been purposely designed for proactive cleaning
Jotun HullSkater, the first robotic technology that has been purposely designed for proactive cleaning (illlustration: Jotun)

Jotun has developed a revolutionary, proactive cleaning solution for the most challenging operations. Jotun Hull Skating Solutions (HSS) offers high performance antifouling, proactive condition monitoring, inspection and proactive cleaning, high end technical service, and performance and service level guarantees.

The first solution of its kind within the maritime industry, HSS provides individual proactive condition monitoring services tailored for each vessel, using a proprietary algorithm and big data to accurately predict fouling development and cleaning schedules.

The Hull Performance focus that Jotun rolled out in 2011 saw the company move from antifouling and paint to concentrating on hull performance, explains Morton Fon, President & CEO, Jotun, “We believe this is a game changing solution for vessels in challenging operations.” HSS takes the Hull Performance solution further to meet the challenges of reducing emissions, biofouling and increased regulation. As Morton Fon puts it: “Welcome to the Rev-hull-ution.”

HSS is the first solution developed for proactive bio-fouling control on ships and offers the potential to reduce fuel costs by around USD 3.6 million and CO2 emissions by 12.5% annually, on a typical vessel.

The primary component of Jotun Hull Skating Solutions is the ground-breaking, onboard Jotun HullSkater, the first robotic technology that has been purposely designed for proactive cleaning. In combination with the premium SeaQuantum Skate antifouling and a set of services, the Jotun Hull Skating Solutions will help ship operators combat early stages of fouling, significantly reduce fuel costs, CO2 emissions and the spread of invasive species.

The HullSkater removes individual bacteria and biofilm before macro-fouling takes hold. This not only delivers peak performance, and unlimited idle days for shipowners, but minimises the need for reactive cleaning, cutting costs, environmental risk and optimises fleet flexibility.

HSS – how it works (illustration: Jotun)
HSS – how it works (illustration: Jotun)

The HullSkater stays on the hull by the force of its magnetic wheels, each equipped with electric motors for propulsion and steering. The vehicle has several cameras and sensors, supporting the operator with data for navigation and documenting fouling on the ship hull. The specially designed motorised brush keeps the hull free from fouling without causing erosion or damage to the hull coating.

The vehicle is connected to the operator’s control centre through an umbilical and can be operated remotely for vessels anywhere in the world with 4G coverage. Inspection and proactive cleaning of a hull will normally take around 2 to 8 hours depending on size and condition.

“Bio-fouling is a big challenge for the shipping industry,” comments Geir Axel Oftedahl, Business Development Director in Jotun. “It increases frictional resistance leading to speed loss and greater fuel consumption, while at the same time increasing the risk of the transfer of aquatic invasive species. It is a burden to the industry, and our planet, and demands decisive action. That was our starting point in the conception of HSS – a desire to create a definitive solution to this pressing issue, one that wouldn’t just deal with the problem, but rather prevent it. That is what hull skating achieves,” adds Oftedahl.

“We believe this is a landmark development for shipowners worldwide,” Oftedahl continues. “Vessels are often faced with unpredictable operations, with erratic idling periods and varied operational profiles that make the selection of antifouling problematic, even for the best coatings. And once fouling grows the impacts are immediate, and damaging, with poor hull and propeller performance accounting for around one tenth of the world fleet’s energy consumption. This can make a massive impact on any owner’s bottom line.”

“So, make no mistake, proactive inspections, hull cleaning and management isn’t just an operational matter, it’s a business-critical decision. As such, HSS is an essential business investment,” he stresses.

The unique technology has been developed over several years, with comprehensive testing taking place on vessels and at selected ports. Jotun is now in the final verification stage and is currently recruiting new selected owners to be the first to benefit from this “game-changing” solution. The shipping partners’ dedicated involvement and their input to requirements, design as well as providing vessels for piloting, have been key in the development and testing of the solution.

Built on partnerships
As Jotun’s strategic partner on the HullSkater project since 2015, Kongsberg Maritime has contributed to the technology and know-how including development of secure remote control, cloud-based data storage, battery technology, acoustics and composite materials. HullSkater also uses KONGSBERG’s global communications infrastructure and Kognifai cloud ecosystem, both of which contribute to its ability to abolish significant performance losses caused by fouling and negate the need for waste collection.

The HullSkater stays on the hull by the force of its magnetic wheels (photo: Jotun)
The HullSkater stays on the hull by the force of its magnetic wheels (photo: Jotun)

Already established as the market’s leading marine robotics manufacturer, Kongsberg Maritime is responsible for the industrialisation and manufacturing of HullSkater, which will take place at a new facility located close to its Sensors & Robotics campus in Horten, Norway. HullSkater will be supported by extended performance and service level guarantees, with global technical support from Jotun and Kongsberg Maritime.

Alfie Ong, Vice President, Jotun Marine Coatings, says, “Kongsberg Maritime’s expertise in subsea robotics, remote communications and data management, allied with their dedication to sustainability, makes them a perfect fit to partner with us in the development of HullSkater. Together, we have devised a truly innovative solution, which we believe will revolutionise the shipping industry, moving away from traditional, reactive methods of managing fouling to a proactive approach which will ensure that vessels are always operating efficiently and sustainably.”

Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg Maritime, comments: “We are delighted to offer our 70 years of underwater technology experience as partner with Jotun to develop a solution that can help customers make their businesses safer, more sustainable and more efficient. Conserving our ocean environment and enabling sustainable marine operations is a priority for KONGSBERG, and HullSkater offers a uniquely proactive way to solve the difficult problem of fouling growth.”

Moreover, DNV GL contributed the development of Jotun Hull Skating Solutions, offering its experience and ship knowledge, operations and systems. Also involved was Semcom, specialists in robotics and digital solutions, which provided design, analysis, software and vessel development.

Telenor contributed its communications expertise, as Senior Account Executive Espen Myhre explains, “We have a good history when it comes to the machine-to-machine, IoT scenarios, so we’re able to provide that connectivity which is important for this solution. And not only the connectivity, but also the security in protecting the data being transmitted.”

Shipping giants Wallenius Wilhelmsen, Berge Bulk and Maersk provided input and the opportunities to test the platform.

Geir Fagerheim, Wallenius Wilhelmsen SVP of Martine Operations says, “Wallenius Wilhelmsen has a zero-emissions ambition…. We’ve now had this in operation on our vessel Talisman for 2 years, working across the globe.”

A collaborative solution
Working in a collaborative effort to develop the Jotun Hull Skating Solutions was gratifying explains Morton Fon, “I believe that is the name of the game for the future, because each company doesn’t have competence within all areas, so we need to find other companies we can collaborate with to come up with innovative solutions like HSS.”

“We believe that this can be a substantial contribution when it comes to CO2 emissions, and if we were to put this on all ships, we believe that could save 40 million tonnes of CO2,” he continues.

“How much is that?” Fon asks. “That equals the normal emissions of 1 year in Norway. So, this is a huge impact.”

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