HomeData AnalyticsCaterpillar and OSIsoft debut AI platform to reduce costs for shipping industry

Caterpillar and OSIsoft debut AI platform to reduce costs for shipping industry

The marine division of US machinery and equipment maker Caterpillar has integrated OSIsoft’s data management system into its industrial artificial intelligence (AI) platform to help shipping companies reduce fuel and maintenance costs and increase uptime.

The resulting asset intelligence platform combines OSIsoft’s PI System, which its maker claims is used by 65 per cent of industrial companies in the Fortune 500, with Caterpillar’s own AI services, based on the software suite it gained with the purchase of marine analytics company ESRG in 2015.

Its subscription-based AI tool can be used to monitor fuel consumption, equipment health, and more than 65 on-board systems. It provides recommendations to ship owners to help increase efficiency and reduce downtime on their vessels, and to help shipyards reduce warranty expenses.

Ken Krooner, general manager of asset intelligence at Caterpillar Marine, and formerly president of ESRG, said: “Our goal is to give people across the shipping industry the highest uptime at lowest total ownership costs by providing better insight into their operations so they can make better decisions.”

Fuel alone can be 50 per cent or more of the total lifetime cost of a vessel; reducing it by just a few percentage points can mean millions in savings a year, said Caterpillar.

On top of this, advanced shipping data helps with safety and environmental regulations, including the International Marine Organisation’s new requirement that sulphur content of fuels be lowered to 0.5 per cent m/m (mass by mass) from 3.5 per cent by 2020.

OSIsoft has been working with Caterpillar for a decade, originally with its energy and mining businesses. “It has made unique strides with the best practices and tools,” Matt Miller, industry principal for transportation at OSIsoft, told Enterprise IoT Insights.

“Over the past 10 years, we have worked with groups within Caterpillar to utilise technology to help strengthen its offering and grow its business.”

The new partnership with Caterpillar Marine, headquartered in Hamburg, in Germany, solves two major challenges to bring advanced analytics to bear on the shipping industry: a lack of data science expertise within the industry, and a mish-mash of systems and equipment from which to gather data.

ESRG had been working to solve the first of these challenges since the late 1990s. “The most limiting part of analytics is the expertise,” Krooner told Enterprise IoT Insights. “We started developing a way to bring analytics to a level that anybody could use – not just data scientists, but day-to-day operations.”

The acquisition by Caterpillar in 2015 afforded it the chance to pitch its shipping analytics to a captive audience. Its original AI systems, which have developed since, put intelligence “into the hands of the folks that can make best use of it,” said Krooner.

The second challenge, of fragmentation, comes down to the lack of consistency in ship building. Unlike in the automotive or rail industries, for instance, boats do not conform to type.

“Other vehicle manufacturers produce cookie-cutter versions of the same models,” said David Shannon, business development manager for asset intelligence at Caterpillar Marine.

“That’s not the way the marine sector works. It is a unique challenge. When large shipping companies talk about sister vessels in their fleets, they are not really twin models. Plus, they have such a diverse fleet – the complexity multiplies out across old and new vessels, across the globe.”

OSIsoft’s core offer is to pool data from any source into a single management system, presented as a “constant structured environment”. Its PI System at once solves the challenge of fragmentation. “What was needed was system like PI,” said Krooner.

“All the sensors and control systems can be presented as if the same.” The combination means shipping companies can access myriad data streams, make sense of them, and even develop their own algorithms and applications on top.

The new integration “joins together the advantages of both systems,” said Miller; “the data infrastructure and this highly scalable data analytics platform.”

Caterpillar, showcasing the work with OSIsoft at the latter’s partner event in Barcelona this week, provided various proof points for the system.

One company with roll-on/roll-off vessels, massive ships used to haul heavy equipment like bulldozers, used it to advise on the optimal time to clean its hulls to reduce drag. By shifting from scheduled cleaning, the company is slated to save $450,000 per vessel per year in reduced fuel consumption.

It has also been used to notify an inland tugboat operator of problems with its diesel engine from a third party manufacturer seven, four and two days in advance by analysing fuel pump supply pressure, engine performance and other data.

Meanwhile, a cruise line has said it will save $1.5 million per ship in reduced fuel consumption through Cat Asset Intelligence.

The solution is industry and manufacturer agnostic, said Caterpillar Marine. “It has broad applicability; we are launching with Caterpillar Marine first,” said Krooner.

Miller summed up: “Together, these two things will help accelerate adoption of this new technology, and bring time-to-market down for fleet owners significantly.”

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