ROMAS moves engine room control to shore

Classification society DNV GL, automation systems vendor Høglund, ferry operator Fjord1, and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) report that they have successfully completed the first testing phase of the ROMAS (Remote Operation of Machinery and Automation Systems) project, transferring management of the engine control room (ECR) from the test ship to a shore-based engine control centre (ECC).

The concept is built around the use of remote operations technologies to allow chief engineers to control the propulsion and auxiliary machinery systems of a single ship, or a fleet of vessels, from shore.

The ROMAS research project, established by DNV GL, Høglund, Fjord1 and the NMA, is working to develop these technologies and establish a framework of regulations, rules and verification methods to enable remote operation of ship machinery and systems.

“The overall goal of ROMAS is to provide improved operations and cost-efficiency while ensuring a safety level that is the same or better than today’s conventional operation. But transferring responsibilities, monitoring, and control facilities to shore also reduces the need for machinery engineers on board, which could make marine engineering jobs more attractive,” said Steinar Låg, principal researcher on autonomous ships at DNV GL and ROMAS project manager.

The tests were conducted aboard the Fjord1 ferry Fannefjord, with the ECC established at Fjord1’s office in Molde. The Fannefjord is a DNV GL classed LNG/battery/diesel powered ro-ro ferry that operates on the 35-minute crossing in Moldefjorden between Molde and Vestnes.

The ROMAS project will continue until the end of 2019, supported by funding from the Norwegian Research Council.

The long-term plan is to use the experience gained to guide future operations and the development of new products and services, including a ‘remote ready’ integrated automation system (IAS) from Høglund, the applicable rules and Approval in Principle programmes from DNV GL, and regulations from the Norwegian Maritime Authority.