Wärtsilä successfully tests remote control ship operating capability, directs vessel from 8,000km
The technology group Wärtsilä has taken a further important step towards developing its Smart Marine capabilities by successfully testing the remote control of ship operations.
The testing, which involved driving the vessel through a sequence of manoeuvres using a combination of Dynamic Positioning (DP) and manual joystick control, was carried out on August 21 off the North Sea coast of Scotland in collaboration with Gulfmark Offshore, the U.S. based operator who provided the vessel for the project.
Although the test vessel was in the North Sea, the remote-control navigating was carried out from the Wärtsilä office located in San Diego, California, 8000km away.
Wärtsilä’s Dynamic Positioning unit developed remote control capabilities in the early part of 2016, but this was the first test carried out on an offshore vessel.
The vessel, the ‘Highland Chieftain’ is an 80m platform supply vessel already fitted with a Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum package for Navigation, Automation and Dynamic Positioning systems, as well as a Wärtsilä drives package.
For the test, additional software was temporarily added to the DP system in order to route data over the vessel’s satellite link to the onshore work station in California.
Testing was carried out using standard bandwidth onboard satellite communication. No land-based technology was used for the communications between the vessel and the remote operator work station.
The successful test was conducted over an almost four-hour period during which time the vessel was driven through a series of manoeuvres at both high and low speeds. All the test procedures carried out went as planned.
“Wärtsilä is committed to developing technologies that enable a Smart Marine future. In the age of digitalisation, the future Smart Marine ecosystem will involve connecting ‘smart’ vessels with ‘smart’ ports to enable an even more efficient use of resources. It will also reduce the impact on climate while enhancing safety,” said Roger Holm, President, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.
It is anticipated that Wärtsilä’s development of successful remote access to ships will also enable virtual service solutions to customers needing tuning or testing of their DP systems. Furthermore, this solution will be used for other pilot projects, such as automated docking procedures.
Gartner: Women in supply chain at five-year high
Women now represent a greater percentage of the supply chain workforce than at any other point in at least the past five years, according to a recent Gartner survey.
The Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021, conducted by Gartner and Awesome, surveyed 223 supply chain organisations with more than $100m in annual revenue from February through to the end of March 2021.
- Women represent 2% more of supply chain workforce than in 2020
- Women now account for 42% of the workforce
- Number of women in exec-level positions declined by 2%
- Just 15% of top leadership are women (17% in 2020)
- 84% of organisations say COVID-19 did not impact efforts to advance women
It found that women now represent two per cent more of the supply chain workforce than in 2020, accounting for 42%, compared with 39% last year. Dana Stiffler, Vice President Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, says the impact of COVID-19 on supply chain was significant, though different to other sectors.
"Contrary to other industries, supply chain’s mission-criticality during the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many sectors did not reduce their workforce, but rather continued to hire and even faced talent shortages, especially in the product supply chains," she said. "This resulted in many women not only standing their ground in supply chain organisations but increasing their representation in organisations. We also recorded a record number of specific commitments and supply chain-led actions and saw existing programs starting to pay off."
Supply chain still lacks women in executive leadership
But the elephant in the boardroom remains. Though the figures present a positive step towards greater diversity and gender equality at all levels, the number of women in executive level positions declined by two per cent in the past year. Women represent just 15% of the upper echelons of supply chain leadership. Gartner did however record a rise in women at all other levels of leadership.
The vast majority (84%) of organisations surveyed said the outbreak had no discernible impact on their ability to retain and advance women. But more than half (54%) admitted that retaining mid-career women was becoming increasingly difficult. A lack of career opportunities was cited as the biggest challenge to this, while other blamed a lack of development opportunities.
Despite these challenges, companies of all sizes are becoming broadly better at gender diversity. Around a third more said they had a targeted initiative focused on attracting women and advancing their careers.
Stiffler said a push towards measurable and formal initiatives is at least pointing in the right direction: “It's encouraging to see that the larger share of this jump was for more formal targets and specific goals on management scorecards. For these respondents, there is greater accountability for results — and we see the correlation with stronger representation and inclusion showing up in pipelines.”