Making decisions on how best to tackle the challenge of hull fouling is a key priority for ship owners and operators, due to the significant reductions in fuel and CO2 savings that can be delivered by the right coating. Faced with a range of statistics on the performance of particular products, ship operators have often chosen to base hull coating decisions on the price of the paint or their own personal experience. Understandably they have been cautious or even skeptical about some performance predictions made by coatings manufacturers.
In a ground-breaking initiative, AkzoNobel’s marine coatings brand International® has launched to market a science-based predictive tool, Intertrac® Vision, the shipping industry’s first “big data” consultancy tool that provides accurate and transparent predictions on the fuel and CO2 savings potential of fouling control coatings prior to their application. As a software tool Intertrac Vision is an early example of how “big data” can be used to improve ship hull efficiency. It provides a full economic and environmental analysis of fouling control coatings over a ship’s specified in-service period, enabling ship owners to accurately assess the performance of different coatings on their vessels before they are applied.
The tool is the latest innovation from AkzoNobel Marine Coatings and builds on the work pioneered in the 1980’s into the science of hull roughness. This work is based, in part, on work originally undertaken by Professor Robert Townsin of the University of Newcastle who assisted International® in the development and publication of the innovative Hull Roughness Penalty Calculator over 30 years ago.
History and Development
Intertrac was the industry’s first tool to analyse where a ship had previously traded and to link that with the fouling challenge that it had encountered. Intertrac Vision now combines ships trading and fouling challenge data with many of the other variables associated with the operation of a specific ship. This enables owners and operators to make far better-informed decisions based on the ‘what-ifs’ and computations derived from the mobile device based software.
It has been developed over four years with help from leading academic and industry experts including University College London (UCL), the Netherlands ship research facility MARIN, and the University of Newcastle, as well as cooperation with more than thirty ship owners and operators around the world.
Intertrac Vision uses proprietary empirical algorithms derived from analysis of 3.5 billion datasets and 2.5 terabytes of data. The data related to coating performance has been collected for over four decades in AkzoNobel’s own unique database, Dataplan. The system’s predictions are based on many relevant variables such as the ship’s trading region and the subsequent fouling challenge, the type, size and typical sailing speed of the vessel, and the condition and preparation of the hull including the choice of hull coating applied.
AkzoNobel’s marine coatings brand International® has been meticulous to ensure complete transparency and validation. This explains its strategy of working closely with academics and leading independent experts, as well as ship owners worldwide.
Dr Tristan Smith of UCL is well aware of the challenge facing coating manufacturers who predict the likely performance of their products. “While all technology providers, including those producing hull coatings, have long since offered insight into the fuel and CO2 saving potential of their solutions,” he says, “ship owners have maintained a degree of skepticism around performance prediction. The lack of accurate and transparent supporting data underpinning statistics quoted has contributed to this mindset.”
“As one of several academic contributors to Intertrac Vision, we are supporting this initiative by bringing the industry a step closer to a new era of robust, rigorous analysis that can help improve the rationality in hull coatings selection,” he adds.
As an added benefit, if the coating specification chosen has an upgrade from a biocidal to a biocide free foul release coating, such as International’s Intersleek® range, ship owners can also see the number and monetary value of potential carbon credits that could be earned as a result of their coatings choice. The credits can be traded for cash on the voluntary carbon market to generate revenue, or used to offset carbon emissions from another business area. The carbon credit methodology is another innovation pioneered by AkzoNobel Marine Coatings business and is the first programme of it’s kind in the whole of the marine industry.
How do we get a consultation?
In practical terms, the use of Intertrac Vision is available free of charge by contacting specially trained Intertrac Vision consultants. They work closely with customers to assess different hull coating options and surface preparation strategies, and provide forecasts that give a real-life cost benefit analysis of different coating options.