Remote installation and commissioning in the age of COVID-19
A team of engineers adapts quickly to complete Høglund’s first ever remote installation and commissioning of a complex automation system - thousands of miles away from the yard
The events of 2020 presented a significant challenge for our engineering teams, and much like the rest of the world, forced us to look at other ways of working to ensure we continue to deliver for our customers.
As the world went into lockdown, many businesses had to make the sudden adjustment towards remote working. However, working remotely with complex automation systems on board vessels that typically requires a very hands-on approach is a significant challenge.
This was the situation a team of Høglund project engineers found themselves in earlier this year when part-way through the job they suddenly had to work remotely. However, our skilled and dynamic team adjusted quickly, drawing on existing remote engineering experiences to successfully complete a series of large commissioning projects in an unprecedented situation.
Since November 2019, one of our engineer teams has been working with Khanh Hoa based yard, Hyundai Vietnam Shipbuilding (HVS) on the commission and installation of the Integrated Automation System (IAS), Power Management (PMS), Cargo Handling (CHS) and Ship Performance Monitor (SPM) for series of six new 50,000dwt tankers for our clients, DSD Shipping and Transpetrol.
As we entered 2020, and COVID-19 was reaching more countries, we suddenly found ourselves in the position where due to Vietnam going into strict lockdown and our engineers were not able to be physically present at the yard to do the job.
This unprecedented situation forced us to think differently and examine ways we could continue to work remotely and install this essential hardware and software while not derailing the overall project plan behind these newbuilds.
Transitioning to remote working
Being separated from the hardware we are working with is not an entirely new concept to our engineers at Høglund. As part of our support package when we supply automation technology and software, customers have access to Høglund’s remote servicing capabilities. This allows our shore-based engineers to access our automation systems and software, a service that is highly valued by our customers, especially when random faults occur, our engineers can support the crew diagnose and resolve the issue.
However, we have never installed and commissioned our automation solutions 100% remotely. To allow us to do this, we now had to rely heavily on our existing remote servicing capability.
To give us as much of a virtual presence at the yard, we used the collaboration tool, TeamViewer to work closely with the engineers on-site at the yard while also allowing us to access and control the software within the systems we were installing and commissioning.
These new close, yet remote working arrangements were instrumental in allowing us to work with the team at HVS in carrying out this complex task. It meant that throughout the summer of 2020 - the height of global travel restrictions - Høglund delivered, installed and commissioned, all remotely the IAS, PMS, CHS and SPM on the tankers. This significant feat was also achieved despite the additional challenges created by the major time difference from the teams being at opposite sides of the world alongside the language barriers.
With this system successfully installed and commissioned, the client is reassured that the critical hardware onboard the vessel is in the hands of reliable, modern and effective automation technology. The day-to-day management of the vessel is easier for the crew and operators with reduced complexity of the command and control interfaces for essential vessel hardware. Furthermore, by making the access to integrated operational data from the entire vessel more seamless, owners and operators can access information on vessel operation to reveal insights on potential efficiency gains.
Commenting on the success of the project in these unprecedented times, Bjørnar Sivertsen, the Høglund Senior Project Manager who led the work: “We are pleased to report that despite the challenges created by COVID-19, we managed to complete the installation of the essential automation hardware and deliver three of the six newbuildings for the customer remotely. This is remarkable considering this was achieved without our service team being on board the vessels. We look forward to building on the success of this project and the lessons learned we explored as we develop our remote working capabilities for future projects.
Adding their thoughts on the project, Rolf Herheim, Technical Director at DSD Shipping: “As far as I have observed, the installation and commissioning of our new tankers has worked according to plan. I would like to thank the team at Høglund Marine Solutions who worked well alongside the team at HVS. Despite the obvious challenges created by being forced to work remotely, they managed to complete the job and ensure the successful completion of our new tankers for the DSD fleet ”.