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ABS and MSC pioneer major advance in classification

Written by Nick Blenkey
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USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) is one of three MSC ships that will soon have a "digital twin"

APRIL 9, 2018 — Classification society ABS is engaged in a two-year project with the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) to deliver the industry’s first bow-to-stern Condition-based Class asset management program.

The project aims to achieve a classification industry landmark advance: moving from purely calendar-based surveys to an entirely condition-based classification model, using digital solutions to increase MSC’s operational availability and flexibility.

Throughout the project ABS is collecting data from newly installed hull sensors, as well as from sensors on all classed machinery, onboard three MSC vessels

  • USNS Spearhead, an expeditionary fast transport craft
  • USNS Amelia Earhart, a dry cargo/ammunition vessel and
  • USNS Pomeroy, a large RO/RO vessel

To establish precise baseline conditions, ABS is performing an in-depth survey assessment on structures and machinery, and building “digital twins” for each vessel.

Combined with ABS’ advanced analytics, the digital twins detect abnormal behavior, providing an early warning and the opportunity to mitigate problems before they occur. With this vessel-wide intelligence, ABS and MSC will have a holistic view of the entire vessel’s structural health and real-time performance of onboard equipment.

“Integrating condition-based maintenance into the survey model is the future of class, and we are delivering it today,” said ABS Chairman, President and CEO, Christopher J. Wiernicki. “The ABS condition-based class model solution will help MSC target critical areas for repair, prioritize maintenance requirements, and more efficiently schedule and use resources to improve availability. The project objectives are to reduce downtime, provide greater operational flexibility, allow ships to remain in service longer and meet mission demands, while also meeting class requirements.”

“We are pleased to have ABS as a trusted partner in this digital journey,” said MSC Engineering Director, Andrew Busk. “Through the condition-based maintenance program, we are working with ABS to achieve a heightened level of vessel readiness, leveraging data in altogether new ways. The program will provide a data platform to support timely decisions as well as enhanced planning of vessel overhaul and repair periods.”

ABS is working in an unprecedented degree of integration with both MSC and vendors to share data and enrich the digital picture of each vessel:

The ABS digital team is leveraging a cloud-based data platform, data analytics and models to unlock vessel performance insights and accurately predict system vulnerabilities and risks. As each of MSC’s digital twins continues to produce information, ABS analytics will continue to refine its understanding of the vessel, delivering enhanced predictive maintenance capabilities.

“I am proud to add this to the long list of pioneering developments ABS has delivered.” said Wiernicki. “This condition-based class model solution allows ABS to offer surveys focused on the actual condition of critical structures and machinery, rather than on prescribed timelines. Merging our extensive knowledge of marine and offshore assets with rigorous data science and advanced analytics, ABS can provide a comprehensive real-time picture of a vessel’s condition and state of readiness.”

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