Remote Machinery Operation Tested

Kim Gunnar Jensen at the shore-based engine control center used in the ROMAS project.
Kim Gunnar Jensen at the shore-based engine control center used in the ROMAS project.

By The Maritime Executive 06-07-2019 12:39:37

Classification society DNV GL, automation systems vendor Høglund, ferry operator Fjord1 and the Norwegian Maritime Authority have completed the first testing phase of the Remote Operation of Machinery and Automation Systems (ROMAS) project. 

The test campaign was conducted in the first quarter of 2019 using the Fjord1 ferry Fannefjord. An engine control center established was at Fjord1’s office in Molde. The Fannefjord is a DNV GL classed LNG/battery/diesel powered ro-ro ferry that operates on the 35-minute crossing in Moldefjorden between Molde and Vestnes.

The results were presented for the first time at the Nor-Shipping trade fair in Oslo this week.

The overall goal of ROMAS is to provide improved operations and cost-efficiency while ensuring a safety level that is the same or better than today’s conventional operation.

As ship systems become more complex, operators increasingly rely on the suppliers of individual systems to operate and maintain them. At the same time, finding machinery engineers who have the skills to deal with these sophisticated systems and are willing to work on board for weeks or even months is challenging.

One way of dealing with this is through remote operations. The key concept is to move the engine control room from the ship to a shore-based engine control center, where chief engineers can operate the propulsion and auxiliary machinery systems of a single ship or a fleet of ships. 

ROMAS will continue to the end of 2019, supported by funding from the Norwegian Research Council. The long-term plan is to use the experience from the project to guide future operations and the development of new products and services, including a “remote ready” integrated automation system from Høglund, the applicable rules and Approval in Principle programs from DNV GL and regulations from the Norwegian Maritime Authority, to enable Fjord1 and other shipowners to consider commercial deployment for new generations of ships.