Innovation by cooperation
Innovation and research, two words that are extremely important to the Dutch maritime industry. The Dutch are famous for their innovations and to stay a frontrunner, they work hard to make their products and methods even more efficient, sustainable or better adapted, as individual companies as well as in joint projects between companies, knowledge institutes and the government. Maritime by Holland Magazine takes a closer look at how the Dutch innovate.
To stimulate innovations, entrepreneurship investments and export, the Dutch government introduced a new policy in 2011, the top sector policy. Nine top sectors were identified in which the Netherlands excels internationally and the intention is to make these top sectors even stronger by means of cooperation between the government, the industry, universities and knowledge institutes. The agreements about this are recorded in so-called innovation contracts. The aim of this cooperation is to lead the Netherlands to a worldwide top 5 position of knowledge economies in 2020, to increase the Dutch research and development efforts to 2.5% of the GDP in 2020 and to form top consortia for knowledge and innovation (TKI) in which public and private parties participate for more than € 500 million of which at least 40% will be financed by the industry by 2015.
Water and energy
Out of the nine top sectors, two are mainly relevant to the maritime industry: top sector water and top sector energy. Top sector water comprises of the clusters water technology, delta technology and maritime, that all form a separate TKI. Within the top sector maritime, four topics were established that form the prior innovation themes: explore at sea, clean ships, smart ships and smart ports. Research and innovation projects have to come under one of these themes. Top sector energy comprises of seven topics, one of them being TKI Wind op Zee (TKI for offshore wind) which facilitates the cooperation between companies, research institutions and the Dutch government in offshore wind research, innovation and deployment.
One way to create exclusive knowledge and innovation partnerships between the government, the industry and knowledge institutes is joint industry projects (JIPs), together the partners – five to 25 industrial and research parties – look for a solution to a specific problem or develop new technology requiring fundamental or applied research. JIPs are often used if the problem or required innovations are too complex or costly to be solved by one party alone or require specialised knowledge or equipment which is not readily available for individual parties. “Doing research
Doing research together means more knowledge and a smaller investment
together about a sector-wide problem means that together, you have more knowledge and a smaller investment, a JIP offers added value to the industry”, says Erik-Jan de Ridder, senior project manager offshore at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) when asked about the advantages of JIPs.
One of the JIPs currently running within the TKI Wind op Zee is the WiFi JIP, Wave impacts on Fixed turbines. De Ridder: “At MARIN, we have about 30 JIPs in the field of oil, gas and shipbuilding, WiFi is the first one in the field of offshore wind energy which is new to us.” Scope of the JIP WiFi is to better understand the influence of steep and breaking waves on the foundation and secondary structures of offshore wind turbines and to avoid damage by better calculation requirements in guidelines and standards for the design of offshore wind turbine foundations. In the past, with a growing number of offshore wind farms, more and more damages due to steep or breaking waves have been experienced. Although calculation requirements for the estimation of steep and breaking waves are nowadays available in guidelines and standards, there is still a considerable potential for optimisations. The idea for this JIP originated from Bas Buchner, director of MARIN, and Statkraft, one of the participants when they looked at the optimisation of jackets for the oil and gas industry and noticed that monopiles for the offshore wind industry had not been studied in detail on this subject. “We talked to several companies related to the industry about this and did a research programme to find out how relevant the problem was. Wind farms used to be built in ‘easy’ parts of the sea, where monopiles encountered 20% impact by waves and 80% by wind. Nowadays, wind farms are increasingly built in more ‘difficult’ parts of the sea, which means more impact on the turbines by waves, so the problem becomes more and more relevant”, recalls De Ridder.
In total, 17 Dutch and foreign partners, from research institutes and engineering companies to classification companies and energy companies, work together on this project. ”The whole supply chain is present”, says De Ridder. ”Twice a year we meet to discuss the progress of the JIP. We have a budget of € 1.5 million, every participating company contributes € 50,000 in total and for every participating Dutch company, we receive subsidy from the government. The project consists of three phases and we are currently in phase one. We started the project early 2013 and it will take three years to complete. Within a few weeks we will do model tests at Deltares and MARIN, and the outcomes will be used to compare them to the current design methodology. During the winter a Belgian party, OWI Lab, will conduct real live tests at the Belwind wind farm as we then expect the roughest circumstances. We mainly look at extreme waves, for example waves that only occur once every 50 years, as the monopiles need to be resistant to them. Moreover we explore the possibility to do real life tests at the Prinses Amalia Wind Farm off the Dutch coast. The first results will be available after the model tests and the outcome could go several ways: maybe the results show that we can build lighter monopiles, maybe we need to build heavier ones. The project will give us an improved insight, the participating energy companies own or are stakeholder in wind farms and wind farms under construction and they want to use the knowledge gained from this project to optimise their wind farms. The participating suppliers and end-users will use the new knowledge to improve their services.”
At the JIP IShare@Sea within the TKI Maritime, a project to make the maintenance of seagoing vessels smarter, TNO is leading. Erwin Folmer, senior scientist interoperability & standards, explains: ”Various Dutch suppliers have the ambition to support their customers better, and would like to extend their service range in the future. Examples of possible services are maintaining the supplied systems after installation on board, optimising them, diagnosing them, preventing problems and reducing the probability of a failure in their system to increase availability. Other possibilities are providing crew support from shore or optimising spare parts stock on board. This enables them to compete because the life-cycle costs of their system are lower”. These suppliers who wish to develop such services depend on data from different systems on board. There is a need to collect data from the own system supplemented with data from other systems, securely store it, make it easily available to stakeholders on the ship and/or ashore. These stakeholders can analyse the data and draw conclusions on their own system or start actions that need to be taken by the crew or by other stakeholders. If each party uses the data needs and protocols based on their own network philosophy or architecture however, complexity and cost increases on board and blocks the optimal data fusion for (advice) information. At present there is no single data standard that can be widely used in the marine industry. A standard is considered necessary. Ishare@Sea will establish a data standard that can be used in the development of these services. Open innovation is the keyword, as the result of this JIP will become an open standard for everyone. The idea to put together a standardisation was a wish within the industry for quite some time, but it never got off the ground. By converting this wish into a JIP, the idea kicked off. The standardisation will first be only for the
R&D ensures a company
continues to innovate
Netherlands, but it is our explicit ambition to create a worldwide standardisation.
“The standard will contain the semantics, which means the definitions of what kind of systems there are and of which parts these systems consist”, Folmer continues. “All these parts and systems are identified and put together in a model. Next to that, this model will be stated in a technical format, which can be implemented on board of vessels. Normally it takes about 36 months to create a standard. We, however, started in 2013 with phase one, making the general idea tangible, thinking about the requirements we have for the standard, phase two was to look at existing solutions and standards and see what we could use from these and defining the scope and architecture of the standard. The third phase, which takes place within a few weeks, will be the detailed development of the standard, for which we will use the pressure cooker method: we will come together for one week to lay down the standard semantically, a very effective and efficient way of doing this. Afterwards we will lay down the semantics in computer language, which is necessary to implement the standard. We expect to have the standard ready to be implemented early 2014. After that, we need to communicate that the standard is ready. Our partners will spread the IShare@Sea idea within the industry and explain why it is a good idea to get other parties to use the standard as well.”
Research & Development
Another place where innovations take shape is the Research & Development (R&D) departments of maritime companies. A Dutch company that strongly focusses on R&D is Veth Propulsion, located in Papendrecht. Jos Sijbesma, R&D engineer of the electronical R&D department, says: “R&D is important because it ensures that a company continues to innovate. We develop both the software and hardware for new electronic systems. Currently most of the customers are used to more technology and also expect this in their vessels, for example using remote devices to monitor certain systems. Therefore we need to respond to these demands.”
Project partners WiFi JIP
Savannah River National Laboratory
Volker InfraDesign bv
‘‘We develop our own printed circuit boards and write software for them. We adjust and enhance the intelligence of our modules that control the thrusters or engines. The communication between our modules is also realised and organised within our department”, Sijbesma continues. ”Next to that, we try to automate as much physical activities as possible, that is where we distinguish ourselves. Clients prefer an all-in-one system rather than buying every component – engine, thruster, electrical control etcetera – separately for the vessel. Our work often derives from our clients, if a client has a specific request, we always try to execute it or suggest an alternative. Other inspirational sources are questions from our service department or ideas from my other colleagues. As an R&D engineer it is my job to develop new innovative ideas.”
A recent example is an innovation meant for Veth Propulsion’s service department, a faster and easier way to adjust all system settings at once with a laptop instead of adjusting every system separately by hand. Sijbesma: ”This innovation is still a work in progress, but in the future it will save a lot of time. Another example is our work for the inland vessel Semper Fi, the owner wanted a complete overview of the engines, electric drive and thrusters all on one screen. We didn’t have that on offer, so we developed it. It took some time to bring all the communication lines together, but I am very proud of the result. We also work on wireless systems, this year we delivered our first wireless CAN control unit. I expect that in the future, wireless systems will become very interesting for the inland shipping industry.”
Next to the electronical R&D department, Veth Propulsion also has a mechanical R&D department. This department works on everything mechanical between the drive flanges to the propeller, explains manager engineering Stefan Kraaij. ”At Veth Propulsion, we are very creative in finding solutions to make sure a vessel can manoeuvre well in all circumstances. For example, during the years we developed a series of products for vessels with a limited draught.” Veth Propulsion’s Hybrid Drive is nominated for the Maritime Innovation Award 2013 of Holland Marine Equipment (HME), something Kraaij is understandably proud of. This rudder propeller has two different drives, diesel-direct and diesel-electric. Both systems can be used within their optimum yield curves and the asynchronous electric motor can also be used as a generator. The innovative technology leads to lower fuel consumption and a cost reduction on an exhaust fumes post-treatment system. Whether of not Veth Propulsion will receive this prestigious price, will become clear on 31 October during the Maritime Awards Gala in Rijswijk, the Netherlands.
Gail van den Hanenberg
Project partners IShare@Sea
Centrum Maritieme Technologie en
Dutch Institute World Class Maintenance
Dutch Ministry of Defence
Oliveira hydro, marine & shipping