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2022: Turning back the (digital) clock

Looking back at some of the milestones of the year as 2022 comes to a close we can safely say that one of the major structural health monitoring developments came in the form of a greater acceptance of digitalization.


Looking back at some of the milestones of the year as 2022 comes to a close we can safely say that one of the major structural health monitoring developments came in the form of a greater acceptance of digitalization. While Light Structures’ SENSFIB stress & fatigue monitoring solutions have tended to be customized, turnkey deliveries for large ships and offshore assets or vessels with special operating conditions, digitalization is helping owners of more standardized fleets to gain value from structural health data.

In June, classification society ABS introduced its Guide for Smart Functions for Marine Vessels and Offshore Units which focuses on three key areas in which compliance with the requirements stated may result in the granting of optional class notations SMART (INF) covering the data infrastructure, SMART (SHM) and/or SMART (MHM) covering the Smart Functions for health monitoring of structures or machinery of marine vessels or offshore units.

The SMART (SHM) notation is of particular note and according to ABS’ guide: ‘The objective of Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) for marine vessels and offshore units is to provide the vessel owner with structural health awareness, assess and predict structural damage and provide decision-making support on safer and more optimal vessel operation, inspection and repairs, and asset integrity management.’ The mention of inspection and repairs reflects that gaining the SMART (SHM) notation could positively impact a vessel’s maintenance burden.

Lifecycle maintenance

This is a key driver for the adoption of structural health monitoring aboard a much wider range of vessels than before. With the right notation from ABS and other class societies including DNV, there is potential to reduce the amount of drydock surveys required during a vessels lifetime as they will be based on real-time condition information and not pre-determined timeframes. Ultimately, this could save owners and operators millions of dollars across a single ship’s lifecycle. Scale the savings to an entire commercial fleet and the value of digitalization in structural health monitoring becomes very clear.

While digitalization is a recent development in the world of maritime structural health monitoring, we have been developing the foundation for it over several years, We were delighted to deliver several projects this year that included the direct transfer of data acquired by our SENSFIB solutions to the bridge and/or shore, where it could be analyzed and shared through online and cloud-based systems with customers and their stakeholders.

One such project, started in June, was our work on a hull stress monitoring system for two new hybrid-power, double-ended RoPAX vessels under construction at Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) in China for owner, P&O Ferries. Our technology will be used to monitor stress loading on the advanced new hull, providing precision data in real-time, which will also contribute to optimizing maintenance windows based on real-world fatigue.

Digital projects

Further, in October we were awarded a contract to provide a digitally-enabled structural health monitoring system for the third in a series of 115,000 DWT AFRAMAX crude oil tanker newbuilds for Greek ship management company Samos Steamship. As with the first two vessels in the series, the system to be delivered will provide predictive and actionable real-time data on board while helping to optimise asset lifecycle maintenance costs as a data source for the ship builder’s in-house vessel health monitoring platform.

Other 2022 news with a digital element includes success as a member of two winning consortia in the first call of the European Defense Fund (EDF). The dTHOR consortium will develop the next generation of predictive systems based on advanced sensors, a digital framework complying with recognised open standards for data exchange, and hybrid analysis and modelling combining physics-based, data-driven models, while the EDINAF consortium will organise a significant research project on next generation Digital Ships and Ship Digital Architecture.

2022 has been the year that we have received the most interest in going digital from existing and new customers. As more forward thinking ship owners and operators turn to structural health monitoring for safety and maintenance optimisation, we expect interest in the digitalisation side of our turnkey offering to continue growing during 2023. The positive feedback from our customers that are already on their digital journey with SENSFIB-based structural health monitoring solution shows that the potential efficiencies and savings are simple to realise, as long as you choose a partner with the right on board sensor technology and digital approach of course.

On that note, contact to discuss how our solutions can fit your digitalisation strategy during 2023. Happy new year!

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