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Rosanne Dawkins

At any given time around the world, up to 15,000 sensors are collecting data onboard a Damen ship. From fuel and fresh water to power usage, they enable key data points to be accessible instantly to those on board. As a result of Damen’s Triton programme, this data is now connected to a wider ecosystem providing insights that can be used across their vessel network.

In September 2021, the Dutch shipbuilder received an IDC Future of Digital Innovation Award for Triton—a collaboration between Damen and TCS. This award, in the ‘Performance as a Service’ category, recognised Triton’s innovative abilities to maximise vessel uptime. However, the connective capabilities of the wider network should prove even more significant in the long term.

This collaborative journey began with TCS’ unique proposition to Damen. “Damen wanted to see how data, which was being processed in silos, could be brought together in a common platform that could benefit entire ecosystems,” said Reshmi Devan, the Triton Project Manager at TCS. “That’s why the idea of collecting this into a single platform for processing was born.” This new platform is now helping to define the future of the maritime industry.

A new course

International shipping carries around 90% of global trade. However, the industry is under pressure to evolve.

In light of the Paris Agreement climate goals, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) wants its members to cut total annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. At the same time, the pandemic caused unprecedented disruption to the maritime economy leading to intense competition.

Amid this flux, Damen wanted to evolve its operating model from ‘ships as a product’ to ‘vessels as a service’—its vision was to support clients across the entire product lifecycle. However, to achieve this it needed to become one of the most digitally connected shipbuilders. Damen reached out to TCS, its partner in innovation and purpose-led growth.

TCS believed in Damen’s vision of becoming a more innovative and integrated player in the maritime industry. To do this, they needed to better acquire data from separate components across their fleets by building a bespoke IoT platform for all end users.

Unlocking potential

Devan and her team knew that the existing IoT sensor network in Damen ships held the potential to deliver powerful KPIs on fuel efficiency, maintenance, and overall ship performance, but the insights they had were scattered.

“The data was processed in silos. It was not actually producing any useful insights. We needed a platform that could support a combined analysis,” she said.

TCS offered its insights from growth and transformation ventures with customers across other industries to provide its unique expertise to Damen in this shared journey. “The way we value innovation in our organization, it’s the same with Damen. They gave us full freedom to experiment and take risks. It was a collaborative journey,” Reshmi added.

The Triton project moved fast, explained Vaikundam S. Velayudham, IoT business development manager at TCS. “Within three months, TCS laid down the foundations for the cloud-based IoT platform. In six months, we had a live dashboard combining real-time data from thousands of sensors connected to a Damen tugboat.”

The platform also started collecting data from vessels which could be used for analysis at later stages for functions such as insurance, warranty support, predictive maintenance, and design improvisations.

But the project wasn’t always plain sailing, recalled Reshmi. “It was a highly dynamic situation with a huge volume of data to deal with. For every vessel, there was multiple pieces of equipment and multiple vendors coming into picture. We needed to build a unique architecture to deal with those requirements.”

Sustainable ships

However, when the project was complete the benefits became clearer. The ability to monitor engine performance more closely helped ships with Triton improve fuel efficiency by around 12%. Users were able to use the dashboard’s insights to fine-tune preventive maintenance that would help avoid expensive repair bills and enable ships to stay at sea longer.

In addition, the sensor data helped ships servicing offshore wind turbines to remain stable in turbulent waters, further benefiting the wider offshore energy value chain.

For Damen, Triton is helping it become a more sustainable business in the long term, on track to reposition itself as a leading provider of ships as a service.

“The valuable data that we are collecting securely from the vessel is now being used in a number of downstream applications within Damen,” says Reshmi. “We are seeing a change, with other departments within Damen now trying to leverage this data to improve their own efficiency.”

Building on Belief

A further benefit of Triton is its ability to evolve for future needs, and TCS is continuing to adapt the capabilities of the platform. The team is now exploring the potential of digital twin technology to give external partners additional capabilities.

“For a successful digital transformation, it is important to start with belief and make sure the right stakeholders are a part of the journey,” said Raja Shan, Head of Business Development, IoT and Digital Engineering.  

“Damen’s journey from a ship builder to a maritime solution provider is a proven result of this belief and its ability to create the right ecosystem. From the onset, the TCS team believed that Damen Triton will shape the future of maritime industry.”

The story of Damen’s connected sensors is set to continue

About the author

Rosanne Dawkins
Based in London, Rosanne is Head of Content for TCS Europe and UK. She oversees content strategy and multimedia projects across campaigns and events, as well as development of TCS' point of view and thought leadership perspectives. She is an experienced writer and content creator and has worked across a number of sectors, including IT services, arts and culture, and consulting.
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