DISCOVER Magazine #7

Damen Digital set to launch

Published in category: Innovation

The art of turning data into valuable information

As the drive for more and more digitalisation in all aspects of modern day life continues, manufacturers and indeed shipbuilders, are using this technology to offer their customers even greater efficiencies.

Damen itself is developing a unique platform – Damen Digital – which will bring all of its in-house digital initiatives under one roof. The launch of Damen Digital means that the many innovations and developments can be brought together, enabling the company to take a more cohesive approach to digitalisation, which in turn leads to product improvements and cost savings for customers.

For many years already Damen’s various Product Groups have been working on individual digital initiatives such as the Tug & Workboats Group, which can now provide remote monitoring of fuel consumption, or an initiative from the Pontoons Group which has developed a dashboard that enables the operator to view the performance of equipment to maximise uptime.

Another example is the move to develop semi or even fully autonomous vessels, without the need for crew on board. There are several studies in place, examining autonomous vessels. Boudewijn Baan, who is one of the main Damen Digital team members and Sales Manager Repair & Conversion, comments: “Certain vessels will be able to come alongside a berth by themselves in the future, in a similar way that the automotive industry has designed self-parking cars. And if you look at aviation, the ability to deploy the autopilot is well accepted. There is no reason to believe that similar developments won’t take place in the maritime sector too.”

fully autonomous vessels, without the need for crew on board

Boudewijn adds: “Of course, as you would expect, Damen has been working on the digitalisation of its products and services for a long time. But this has never been centralised until now. Each Product Group has effectively been answering customer needs on an individual basis. But there are so many initiatives coming along, following customer requests, that we need to have a vehicle to bring them all together so we can all learn from each other.”

Eventually the aim is to create a ‘gateway’ where all the data being collected from equipment and systems will be channelled through to the Damen Digital platform. It makes it possible for clients and Damen designers to extract data, learn from it, and then feed the end results of the analysis into its next generation of products.

From the platform we can learn from the data and make links and connect it to other information – essentially enrich the data and make it more valuable and available for our customers and ourselves.


The picture above demonstrates the idea of the platform. Damen Digital is under development now and final look might differ from the picture shown in this article.

There is so much potential, he stresses.  “It will be possible to look for patterns in fuel consumption to give an example and respond accordingly with product improvements, or by crew support in optimising daily operations. Extracting data from a vessel’s day to day operations, we can perhaps see that a certain pump is not suitable for an application and that it would be better for the owner to choose a different pump.”

And from Damen’s point of view, this analysis allows us to optimise our production processes, he adds.

The Damen Digital project group essentially forms a link between customers and the organisation’s Product Groups.

Using the information, we can see what customers want and then we can pass this on to the designers and engineers.

Currently, the team is making an inventory of all initiatives running within the Damen Shipyards Group, talking to customers and partners, and looking for companies to work with in supplying solutions in the preparation of the IT platform.

The team has ambitious plans, he emphasises. Eventually, Damen Digital can assist if customers don’t have their own in-house capacity to maintain their vessels to certain standards. “For example, if a customer needs to patrol a coastline or provide a tug service in a port 24/7, why don’t we offer them the capabilities of having a well-maintained vessel to their required standards? Damen Digital would provide us with the required information to assist customers here.”

Uptime vessel operationIf the customer needs operational uptime of 95% but is only achieving 60% we can use the data analysis to seek out a different way of maintaining the vessel, he explains. This would be done together with key partners such as the engine and thruster manufacturers.

And depending on the information gained from the data, a planned preventive maintenance schedule can be implemented, rather than the shipowner facing a situation where a component needs replacing and this results in downtime.

Damen Digital’s information can also be used to extend the time between maintenance works. “If we monitor the condition and quality of the fuel and lube oil, measures can be taken before it gets to the stage when it is not doing its job properly.  By monitoring and picking up on any developments early, there will be fewer interventions on board and this all reduces costs for the customer.”

He points to the aviation industry. “We sometimes wonder at how flights can be so cheap these days and it is all because airlines have gone through a similar process.

In the past it was always about corrective maintenance and we have moved on to preventive maintenance and nowadays even prescriptive maintenance, based on the situation on board.

Of course, these developments will largely be made possible through remote monitoring, he concedes. “But I think in the future every ship will be connected directly to shore; it is already happening. But even without remote monitoring we can already learn a lot from existing installations and advise customers accordingly. How the asset is managed depends on what the customer needs.”

Ultimately, the shipowner or operator may look to outsource their technical management and Damen could provide them with an operational lease.

We are thinking creatively so we can offer an operational lease in the most competitive way.

“Again, if looking at the automotive industry – when someone gets a car on a private lease they know what they will pay for the next 36 months – and this is because the lease companies and car manufactures have such good insight into each component and understand the maintenance needs.”

The next milestone for the Damen Digital team is to make a decision on the preferred ‘gateway’ – which system will be used to get the information to the shore and the IT platform. It is currently seeking a launching customer to partner on this digital journey.

The company is hopeful that the first Damen Digital application, with the ability to extract information, should be running in the autumn.

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