Spliethoff implements DanelecConnect remote management system

- Interview with Theo Kindts, Nautical Superintendent at Spliethoff

The Spliethoff Group is specialized in worldwide ocean transport and operates a large and modern fleet of more than 100 vessels ranging from 2,100 to 23,000 gross tonnes. The fleet includes multipurpose, geared tweendeckers, heavy lift vessels, semi-submersibles, shortsea and Ro-Ro vessels.

Spliethoff is a member of the Spliethoff Group, one of the largest shipping companies in the Netherlands. In this interview, Mr Theo Kindts, Nautical Superintendent at Spliethoff, talks about their collaboration with Danelec Marine and explains the benefits of utilizing the VDR as a data hub for remote Ship-2-Shore Management. The DanelecConnect Remote Management tool was developed by global VDR leader Danelec Marine and makes it possible to access and pull data from the VDR to an onshore location.

What were the main factors for Spliethoff to choose Danelec Marine as preferred VDR supplier?

Our collaboration with Danelec Marine goes more than 10 years back and marks a prolonged relationship based on Spliethoff’s confidence in the product quality and reliability of Danelec Marine VDRs.

Product quality and manufacturer service network are factors of crucial importance to us. Danelec Marine is extremely well represented when it comes to worldwide service network coverage and no other supplier can match that coverage. Service and travel costs are a major expense for shipowners and Danelec Marine is very well positioned in this respect.

You converted several of your former VDRs with Danelec Marine VDRs, how long time did those conversions take and why did you decide to replace those units?

Since Danelec Marine has conversion kits for almost all existing brands and models, replacements are done very fast: Replacement of a full VDR takes 3-4 days while the upgrade of an existing S-VDR is a matter of hours only.

The VDRs that were substituted by Danelec units were getting more and more costly in repair and maintenance and did not compare to the product quality and level of technology of the products delivered by Danelec Marine.

Along with the VDRs, Danelec Marine provides a Vessel Remote Server data gateway hardware module to Spliethoff, enabling instant access to the vessel’s VDR from a PC onshore for transfer and replay of recorded data, the solution is called DanelecConnect. What were the reasons for you to choose this remote management tool and what value and benefits have you obtained from the possibility to access recorded VDR data from shore? What VDR data were used and for what purposes?

The DanelecConnect Remote Management Tool enables instant access to the vessel’s VDR from a PC onshore and connects directly to the ship’s IT and satellite communications systems without the need for a separate PC. DanelecConnect thereby gives us the possibility to access and download selected data from the VDR, enabling proactive, fully flexible use of download data in case of incidents and thereby enhance safety at sea. The ship manager simply logs into a computer to manage downloads from the VDR. Using data from the VDR, incidents can be analyzed, and any unsafe practices be corrected. Another important reason for us to choose DanelecConnect is that it enables a VDR service technician to access data to perform diagnostics of the system or run a pre-APT test while the vessel is at sea, speeding up the actual APT when the ship arrives in port.

How many of your vessels are provided with DanelecConnect?

When DanelecMarine introduced the DanelecConnect solution in 2018, we found that the remote access tool was a significant step forward and a logical way to make proactive use of the crucial data collected by VDRs. Until now, 12 of our VDRs have been upgraded with the DanelecConnect Vessel Remote Server and plan to upgrade an additional 23 VDRs with the system. In total, we have 35 VDRs/S-VDRs from Danelec Marine.

How long time does it take to install the DanelecConnect Remote Server?

2-3 hours, covering installation, software programming, gateway access etc.

DanelecConnect basically enables the download of all data from the VDR. What VDR data are you specifically using and for which purposes?

Since all data from the VDR is available, the ship operations team onshore can request data from specific sensors or set up a schedule of regularly recorded serial, analog and digital downloads from each connected sensor.

Do you apply VDR data for vessel performance or fuel optimization applications?

Yes, the VDR is a very efficient data collection point already gathering and storing valuable data aboard the ship. Using the VDR as a data hub and pull data from the Vessel Remote Server greatly reduces the cost of installing and maintaining a dedicated data network with data cables and/or Wi-Fi connections with devices all over the ship.

With the Vessel Remote Server installed, we have instant access to all VDR data. All data relevant for fuel-efficiency optimization is extracted and loaded into a fuel efficiency system onboard. The latter data is transferred to an onshore office at scheduled intervals.

From a service and maintenance perspective, what are the benefits of using the VDR as a data hub?

To carry out the APTs (annual mandatory performance tests) of VDRs, Danelec Marine probably has the strongest backup organization in the industry, comprising a global network of more than 600 factory-trained service technicians located in more than 50 countries. The Danelec Marine service partners have a very high degree of expertise to install and service complicated shipboard systems, and with DanelecConnect we have direct access to the status of all VDRs.

Danelec Marine handles shipboard service by applying their SWAP feature, how do you evaluate this feature?

With the SWAP (SoftWare Advanced Protection) solution from Danelec, all system software and configuration, as well as programming data, is automatically saved on a hot-swappable memory card.

In case of an issue with the VDR, all that is needed for a service technician is to remove the memory card from the faulty unit and insert the card into a replacement unit. The Danelec technician takes the faulty unit back to shore for repair. This way, the replacement VDR is back into operation almost immediately and saves us a lot of time on service calls and time spent on determining and solving the problem.

The SWAP feature from Danelec is an ideal way to simplify and streamline shipboard service. It relocates repair from ship to shore, thereby avoiding time-consuming and expensive service calls and costly downtime in port.

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