Smart ships can reduce fuel consumption by 20 percent

2012-06-11 - ABB is developing a complete suite of software products that can slash ship fuel consumption by an unprecedented 20 percent. The portfolio builds on ABB’s unique expertise in marine automation, electrical and propulsion systems to monitor and optimize all energy production and consumption processes during vessel operation.

By ABB Communications



Around 90 percent of world trade is carried by the 70,000 or so vessels that make up the international shipping industry.

Fuel is the number-one expenditure for each and every one of these ships. It accounts for between 30-40 percent of the cost of running a cruise ship and between 50-60 percent for most merchant vessels. Reducing fuel consumption by just 1 percent can mean an annual saving of $50,000 for a mid-sized bulk carrier and $300,000 a year for a large container ship. Multiply this by 20, and the potential savings in fuel and carbon dioxide emissions are astronomical.

ABB is close to making these huge energy savings a reality through its development of a complete suite of software products that will monitor, control and optimize every energy consumption process during vessel operation.

These energy consumption processes are present in all aspects of ship operations and include the propulsion, lighting and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems on board, as well as external energy consumption factors like the wind, waves, sea current, suboptimal trim, ship maneuverability and the presence of fouling on the hull.

As a result of this deep knowledge of ship performance collected and processed by the ABB software, the vessel’s owners and operators will know where every drop of ship fuel is consumed and whether it is used efficiently and optimally. Most importantly, this knowledge creates awareness of ship energy consumption processes and enables benchmarks to be set and best practices to be achieved.


ABB has a large installed base of more than 3,000 automation and control systems in operation for marine applications worldwide; professionals from 22 ABB Marine Service Centers globally maintain these systems and provide any needed support services.

ABB refers to this capability as Smart Marine Integration. It is made possible by ABB’s unique expertise in all three fields of marine technology – the propulsion systems that drive the vessels, the electrical systems that power them, and the automation systems that control them.

This expertise enables ABB to provide vertically integrated solutions that collect and process data from all the ship components and systems, thereby providing owners and operators with full insight into how the vessel and its energy consumption processes are performing.

The products are comprehensive in scope and include instrumentation and device control; process automation, vessel management, and navigation information; advisory systems that provide decision support to crew and operators; and fleet management and reporting systems that provide data and information in real time to authorized users like senior officers and onshore management.


Ultra-energy efficiency
ABB expects the full suite of smart marine integration products to be ready by 2015. Several are already available and making a big impact on marine operations. Finland-based Viking Line, for instance, has selected ABB’s energy management system for marine applications (EMMA) for a new ultra-energy-efficient passenger vessel that will have almost zero greenhouse gas emissions.

“One of the top priorities at Viking Line is to lower the emissions and fuel consumption of our fleet,” said Kari Granberg, project manager at Viking Line. “We were looking for a good monitoring tool that automatically regulates power consumption and is as easy to operate as a traffic light. As a result ABB’s EMMA became our first choice.”

ABB operates its Smart Marine Integration activities through a global Vessel Information and Control (VICO) center of excellence organization that has truly global presence. In 2011, ABB sold a total of 350 automation, vessel management and control systems of various types for a wide range of vessels, including drill ships, jack-up drilling rigs, offshore support vessels, and passenger vessels.


STOP PRESS! ABB has won an order from Rickmers, the global shipping company, to supply a smart marine integration solution for five multi-purpose vessels.
Click here to learn more.

EMMA screenshots. Left: EMMA Vessel Trim advisory system shows the optimum and current trim of the vessel. It also indicates how much fuel is lost due to suboptimal trim, and what the captain should do to save fuel. Right: Multiscreen displays from the EMMA suite, including EMMA Onboard Tracker and EMMA Advanced Optimizer (trim).


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