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Fostering data-driven & sustainable vessel operations using IoT

Vessel Monitoring — Smec Marine
Case Study
PiServe helps SMEC Marine build an IoT-powered fleet monitoring platform for remotely tracking key vessel operational metrics in real-time

About the client

Located in UAE, SMEC Marine is a globally acclaimed leader in automation and monitoring products for seaborne mobility. The company specializes in technical consultancy and custom engineered solutions for marine, energy, and offshore applications. SMEC Marine features a rich technical skill base, steering its highly diversified offerings and worldwide capability projections.


Progressive digitalization of the vessel fleet involves seamless access to operational data in runtime. However, much of the systemic and navigation data are stored in a ship’s onboard PLCs. Since the specialized sensors and applications to ingest and transmit maritime data in real-time are conventionally missing onboard, the information is available to a shore-based command center only after the vessel’s berthing. SMEC Marine was looking for ways to continuously transmit operational data from ships at sea, making performance optimization and predictive maintenance possible.

Business challenges

The shipping industry operates under geopolitical uncertainties, stringent environmental regulations, and an erratic global climate. Further, unplanned technical outages can have profound implications for a freighter’s bottom line. Consequently, it is no longer enough to be reactive, and SMEC Marine intended to access a ship’s key performance metrics on the fly to preempt operational risks.

However, in a world where conventional technology only supports physical bulk-data extraction from sea systems, how can it provide fleet operators with ready access to operational variables like speed, echo, RPM, torque, shaft rotation, thrust, stabilization, and wind speed to:

  • Continuously measure system health and proactively schedule agile maintenance runs
  • Optimize fuel consumption and reduce marine GHG emissions
  • Formulate efficient routing strategies for vessels to save fuel and minimize ETAs
  • Bring down the cost of business decisions

Mid-sea network connectivity issues must be addressed through seamless relays from vessels to onshore data centers via satellite data.

Our approach

approach was key to constantly ingesting the onboard data feeds and delivering actionable insights to the decision-makers onshore, resolving the existing pitfalls of mid-sea communications.

Accordingly, PiSeve’s IoT engineers collaborated with SMEC Marine in developing and installing the sensor suits on the seaborne assets. Also, the fleet monitoring platform was architected with the following primary action nodes:

  • A monitoring application was built using AWS IoT Services and AWS Timestream for capturing the feed from the vessel’s IoT sensor arrays
  • The live operational data is saved in an onboard EDGE device and converted into an archival file every 10 minutes
  • The platform scans for a satellite communication window and auto uploads the file into AWS DynamoDB
  • Grafana has been used to retrieve data from AWS DynamoDB and deliver visualization through a custom dashboard akin to the console of a ship, simplifying its consumption by the fleet manager

Fetching operational data from the ships in runtime is a distinct challenge. However, it is mission-critical to guarantee peak performance, regulatory compliance, and on-time maintenance of the customers' assets. PiServe enabled the SMEC Marine to jump through hoops and pull off a near-impossible feat, thanks to its ascendancy in IoT and cloud engineering.

The result

In an industry that still depends on conventional communication models to know the state of the vessels at sea, PiServe put SMEC Marine in charge of an unmatched monitoring and analytics platform, allowing it to differentiate. Now the company can confidently guarantee:

Total situational awareness

The robust online monitoring solution allows fleet managers to view the fleet's position and that of individual vessels on the map in real-time. Further, intuitive dashboards provide complete information on voyages, maximizing fleet utilization

Performance monitoring

The platform offers continuous visibility into the performance of all the equipment on board. The system triggers alerts when performance thresholds are breached and allows a playback option to review past performance

Cost savings

The solution helps in preempting equipment failures, recommends engine RPM for optimized power outputs, and prompts efficient routing strategies based on weather conditions to reduce operational costs by up to 15%

Environmental compliance

The solution cuts fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by upto 12% and automates IMO Environmental Reporting

The future

The remote vessel monitoring and analytics platform built by PiServe using custom-built IoT sensors and cloud applications is a significant step in the right direction. While allowing SMEC Marine to be future-ready, it also provides a glimpse into the state of the global shipping industry in the days ahead.

The worldwide market for autonomous and semi-autonomous ships is flourishing, driven by a need to attain nonlinear growth, transform offshore operations and minimize human deployments in repetitive tasks. Soon, platforms like this will emerge as industry standards in helping shipping companies to maximize fleet availability, rationalize overheads and sustain freight operations throughout the year, involving only the key functionaries.

Additionally, today, Climate Change has emerged as an existential crisis. In response, complete visibility into vessel performance and routing plans can help manage fuel efficiency and GHG emissions with high granularity. Such insights can contribute toward greater adherence to the diverse environmental norms in force across the international sea lanes of communication.

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