CORDIS - EU research results

Visionary concepts for vessels and floating structures

Final Report Summary - VISIONS (Visionary Concepts for Vessels and Floating Structures)

The WATERBORNE Implementation Plan was prepared by a consolidation of a bottom up development from the VISION and Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) priorities and a top down assessment of product, service and infrastructure needs by industry.

An SRA Overview was published to address the Vision 2020 targets and challenges. The research topics that address the SRA priorities and fulfil the Vision were characterised under the WATERBORNE pillars of Sustainability, Competitiveness and Growth.

The WATERBORNE SRA Overview presented a list of research priorities that needed an Implementation Plan to provide the detailed structure for a Route Map. A Technology Impact Evaluation was used to structure the Implementation Plan by:
- Ranking research priorities
- Clustering topics that contribute to a common vision goal
- Identifying potential application objectives.

The SRA priorities under the three pillars were the following:

Pillar 1: Safe, Sustainable and efficient Waterborne Operations

Implementing Goal/Risk Based Frameworks: Future generations of passenger ships, such as cruise liners, ferries and RoPax vessels, will require enhanced redundancy concepts to fulfil the operators´ demands in terms of safe, economic and environmental friendly operation of the vessels. The development of enhanced redundant ship systems will be determined by a goal/risk - based approach over the whole lifecycle of the ship.

The Zero Accidents Target: To complete feedback from operation, and to support risk analyses in the broadest sense, effort is needed towards the creation of databases for recording of waterborne accidents and incidents. European solutions alone are not sufficient in this case and a worldwide approach should be envisaged with strong European lead. Therefore, the second step involved developing and proposing a new common international injury reporting system (occupational health and safety) and a new accident reporting system to IMO.

The Crashworthy Vessel: Intensified traffic, larger unit sizes and increased dangerous goods movement increased the need for improved resistance of ships to collision and grounding, besides the institution of traffic monitoring and control systems. By maintaining acceptable risk in larger transport units the economy of transport stands to benefit.

Low Emissions vessels and Waterborne Activities: Fuel cells with efficiencies up to 70% were developed for land-based applications running on natural gas. Marinisation of this technology would significantly reduce marine power system emissions and provide clean, efficient power sources for marine applications. Widespread application of fuel cells in power propulsion requires the development of a cost effective diesel oil reformation technology.

Enhanced waterborne Security: Europe should develop monitoring and data gathering and management systems to monitor the misuse of waterborne transport. This included practicable cargo inspecting strategies and automatic tracking of goods to ensure they cannot be tampered with during transportation. Simulation models should be researched to analyse the sensitivity of the waterborne transport chain to attack. The research should analyse the potential economic impact of various shutdown scenarios. Research was required on crisis management strategies to ensure that there was sufficient capability in all areas of the waterborne network to deal with an attack situation.

Pillar 2: A Competitive European maritime Industry

Innovative Vessels and Floating Structures:The next European Short Sea Fleet generation should provide enhanced ships for enhanced European logistic chains, meeting the challenges of a growing and increasingly competitive transport market, and of societal demands for safety, security and environmental sustainability. New ship concepts and new concepts in collaborative ship design and production would be needed to secure industry' competitiveness and its role as leading builder and maintainer of the European Short Sea Fleet of about 10,000 ships. Maintaining an efficient European Short Sea Fleet was therefore a need to be addressed at a European level by a European shipbuilding industry.

Innovative Marine Equipment and Systems: The primary requirement for merchant ships is very high efficiency combined with low levels of propeller cavitation, noise and vibrations. Integrated hull and propulsor design is required to optimise these simple configurations under all conditions, including during manoeuvring. Significant increases in efficiency would require more complex propulsor configurations or radical new concepts such as biomechanical designs. New propulsion system designs were needed for mechanical and electric drive. New hull forms such as trimaran, pentamaran and swath would require optimum propulsion system designs specifically developed for those applications.

Tools for accelerated Innovation: Tools for Accelerated Innovation were a cross industry topic, addressing virtually all stakeholders in the Waterborne platform. Unified development would be a major asset in facilitating communication between parties in the industry. The tools required were: Advanced design tools, knowledge management and simulation software for process acceleration and minimising risk.

Next generation Production Processes: The integration of the latest developments in ICT, logistics, and technology into the local as well as the distributed shipbuilding process, in order to achieve leading edge productivity and efficiency world wide. Solutions to develop and establish efficient co-operation (e.g. distributed design and manufacturing, transport logistics) in shipbuilding result in the following research objectives:
a) Process Optimisation & Control,
b) Shipbuilding Logistics Control,
c) Knowledge mobilisation in the shipbuilding production environment,
d) Knowledge management in design & engineering,
e) Virtual prototyping to allow craft design to be optimised without recourse to prototype manufacture.

Effective Waterborne Operations: All high value equipment needs to have Equipment Health Monitoring (EHM) systems embedded into the design. Equipment through life reliability models would be required to provide the prognostic capability to deliver condition-based maintenance. Development of in service performance databases and innovative intelligent pattern recognition tools would deliver robust maintenance planning information. This would maximise the availability of the ship and its asset value. EHM systems should simplify operation and allow reduction of staff and engineers onboard. This functionality should be integrated with the ships automation and control system and use common monitoring and communication systems. Remote shore based EHM control centres needed to be developed and linked to fleet operators. Consistent with the risk/goal-based approach to design, approval and production it was necessary to develop risk/goal based techniques and tools to create maintenance schedules.

New and Extended Marine Operations: The marine activity in the northern areas comprised exploratory and production drilling, installation of sub-sea structures, pipe-laying and inspection of sub-sea equipment. Oil and gas would be transported from locations in the Barents Sea to the market and would require all support activities, from simple supply to disaster relief. The challenges for ship and offshore operation were low temperatures, atmospheric icing, stability problems and equipment operation. Operational challenges included different ice conditions, sea ice, ice floes, icebergs, darkness and low visibility.

Pillar 3: Manage & Facilitate Growth and Changing Trade Patterns

Development of New Port and Infrastructure: Research new techniques for cargo handling to encourage increased market share of short sea shipping and reduce congestion of road and rail transport systems. The optimisation of waterborne transport chains, whether by sea, or inland waterway, had the potential to reduce congestion in road and rail transport. but should be supported by intelligent planning tools and reactive agile real-time scheduling systems. Research efforts were needed to facilitate improvements to major and minor ports, enhance inland waterway capacity, develop improved container systems and cargo transfer and integrate ICT solutions and optimise modal transfer points.

Interoperability Between Modes: To be competitive with single mode transport, inter-modal transport should deliver a high quality service (seamless, fast, and reliable) and be highly efficient. Though Integrated Freight Transport Management Logistic Systems had been examined and developed in a number of projects, there was still an apparent need to ensure that these issues were further developed.

More Effective Ports and Infrastructure: The design of the vessel links to the shore should investigate integrated bunkering and shore power supplies. Modularised systems were required so that the optimum design of port facilities could be developed to suit port size and cargo volumes. Emphasis needed to be put onto improved methods of handling bulk cargoes to reduce the number of cargo handling operations carried out between supplier and customer.

Intelligent transportation technologies: To maximise the efficiency of the real time transport opportunities and vessel utilisation it was necessary to develop a web-based system of port networking to identify and exchange vessel locations, planned routes, cargo facilities and dates and times of movement. This would allow users to quickly identify the most efficient and cost effective waterborne transport opportunities with the potential for increased market share, improved vessel utilisation and reduced costs. The system would also provide increased security by allowing vessel location, course and speed to be tracked at any time through satellite positioning and unique vessel identification code.

Infrastructure Building and Dredging: Research was urgently needed to improve understanding of events and activities within the marine environment that occur independently of construction and infrastructure. These included the naturally occurring effects of storms and floods, but also the effects of commercial fishing. Improved understanding of these would provide a baseline against which the potential impact of construction activity could be properly judged.