MOL takes watch keeping into the future

Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines’ (MOL) dogged pursuit of pioneering smart ships has taken another key step with news one of its ferries has completed a demonstration test, held in association with Rolls-Royce, on a ferry equipped with its Intelligence Awareness System (IAS), designed to aid watch keeping from the bridge. The ferry, operated by MOL Group company Ferry Sunflower, serves Japan’s Seto Inland Sea route.

“Autonomous sailing requires underlying technologies such as advancement and automation of watch keeping, remote and automated ship operation (automatic collision avoidance while underway), automatic docking/undocking, remote monitoring of machinery and equipment, cargo, and so on, and automatic telecommunication among vessels,” MOL stated in a release.

The project team verified the system’s performance such as detecting debris and other obstacles and its data fusion capabilities by conducting the demonstration test in the Seto Inland Sea, one of world’s most congested waterways, where general merchant ships, pleasure boats, fishing boats, and many other vessels come and go.

Meanwhile, an MOL subsidiary called MOL Techno-Trade, along with Nippon Valqua Industries, revealed details today of a jointly developed abnormal vibration detection system.

Vibration measurement technology is widely utilised for preventive maintenance and fault diagnosis of rotating equipment. The new fluoropolymer based piezoelectric film sensor can be easily attached to any part of onboard machinery which requires vibration measurement without modification or alteration.

The noise cancelling system can eliminate the influence of fluctuation of disturbance caused by weather and sea conditions, laden quantity, or load change of main engine which may hinder vibration measurements of onboard machinery. Also, a new vibration detective sensor can send data wirelessly, which enables remote vibration measurement in dangerous or high places where human access is limited.

The system is composed of a tablet-type device, radio communication unit with battery and amplifier and a fluoropolymer based piezoelectric film sensor.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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