A new approach to Classification for smart assets

Jan. 28 2021 - 5 min

The marine and offshore industries are getting smarter by the day, and the benefits of this evolution are myriad. Smart assets enhance safety and security, reduce emissions, improve operational efficiency, and reduce maintenance costs.

Supporting clients throughout their digital transformation and into the future of automation, Bureau Veritas is launching a new approach to Classification that covers cyber, smart features and condition monitoring systems.

Defining the 4 Tiers of smartness

Our new framework divides ships and offshore assets into four tiers. Tiers 1-3 concern levels of digitalization, while Tier 4 looks at automation.

Tier 1 refers to assets with integrated operational technology (OT) systems and computerized management systems[1]. The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) already has regulations for such systems (e.g., UR E22). For Tier 1 assets, Bureau Veritas can determine compliance with voluntary standards for computer-based systems, and provide approval for condition monitoring systems with our NR 674 Rule Note.

Tier 2 assets are “connected”, both internally and externally (e.g., ship to shore, ship to ship, ship to offshore unit). While these assets are vulnerable to new cyber security threats, they can also transfer data to shore. Bureau Veritas has established rules for cyber security (NR 659), and is developing Rules regarding connectivity for potential areas of interest. These include satellite communication performance, and coverage of internal compartments onboard assets and for onshore equipment.

Tier 3 assets are operated digitally via smart functions like predictive optimization, remote access or augmented reality. The essence of this tier is the proper collection, storage and analysis of data from connected assets via platforms that can be replicated onshore (digital twin) or shared among stakeholders (collaborative platform). For this tier, Bureau Veritas is working with clients to create a collaborative platform that will collect and structure data to improve classification services.

Tier 4 is a measure of ship automation and remote controllability, and is therefore primarily relevant to smaller vessels (e.g., patrol boats, naval ships, offshore support vessels). Bureau Veritas’ NI 641 is already the reference for autonomous shipping, and we are developing class services for small, unmanned surface units, including requirements for remote control centers[2].

Smart Feature notations for ships

Assets that comply with the relevant Tier requirements can achieve Smart Feature notations in three areas: Hull, Machinery and Navigation. Ships first gain class notations for digitalization, such as MON-HULL for Smart Hull, AUT-IMS for Smart Machinery, SYS-IBS and INS[3] for Smart Navigation.

Once ships achieve Tier 1 requirements, they can then qualify for Smart Feature notations, such as SMART(H1), SMART(M1), or SMART(N1). This enables owners to be extremely precise about the level of digitalization onboard.

A packed timeline

Bureau Veritas will be rolling out its Smart framework through 2021 and beyond, advancing Classification for digitalized marine and offshore assets. As of January, we have published two Rule Notes – NR 675 and NR 674 – for smart features.

Our subsidiary, Bureau Veritas Solutions Marine & Offshore, also provides solutions for digitalization. These include services for compliance, preparing to meet class requirements, and advisory services on the digital tools and methodologies needed to improve asset performance.

Thanks to these complementary services, Bureau Veritas can support clients’ business goals linked to digitization, while ensuring assets remain safe and compliant as they get smarter.

[1] Since most ships today have OT systems, this tier is largely a baseline for smart shipping.
[2] Ship owners and operators would manage remote control centers.
[3] Integrated navigation system