‘K’ Line goes all-in with tech upgrades on new car carrier

Japanese shipping company ‘K’ Line has gone for the full set of optional luxury extras, barring the spinning alloy rims, on its LNG-fuelled newbuild car carrier CENTURY HIGHWAY GREEN, with the addition of an onboard 4G/LTE network, expanded Wi-Fi access for crew and operational use, and remote survey processes certified by ClassNK.

The 4G/LTE Field Area Network (FAN) system will be used to provide encrypted wireless communications between ship and shore when the vessel is in port and within range of GSM networks, powering digital services such as CCTV, remote monitoring of onload/offload work, and remote visual inspection of machinery.

The equipment has been supplied by Nokia, including its 7705 SAR-Hm LTE router for onboard installation and its 7705 SAR-8 unit for use on shore. This router pairing will support high speed video and data transfer from the ship’s onboard CCTV and IT systems over LTE connections when in port.

“Working with Nokia, we plan to accelerate the development and utilisation of advanced digital technologies that enable safer, world-class shipping services,” said Hiroshi Uchida, Head of AI Digitalisation Strategy Group, ‘K’ Line.

“With the Nokia 4G/LTE network, we will be able to communicate more effectively during berthing, using the same sophisticated technology as available on land. This creates the capability to deliver improved operational performance, skills transfer and safety management.”

The technology will be integrated with the ship’s VSAT satellite communications system for connectivity when out of GSM coverage, offering 8 Mbps speeds over satellite at sea and approximately 100 Mbps via 4G near shore.

Access to connectivity on board has also been expanded through the implementation of an extended Wi-Fi network. In addition to coverage in living quarters, Wi-Fi access points have been installed on the cargo deck, in the engine room and in the LNG fuel-related equipment compartment to support operational data sharing.

Explosion-proof LCX wireless communications equipment has also been introduced in explosion-proof areas to ensure communications in all locations.

Cameras have been installed on the cargo deck and in the engine room, enabling real-time monitoring via PC or mobile phone within the vessel via the onboard Wi-Fi. Recording of video feeds for designated periods is also possible, to support monitoring of the conditions on board from land via the internet.

‘K’ Line will use the new network to share audio, video, text files, and electronic documents using smartphones and smart glasses, to drive improved operational efficiency and strengthen communication among crew members. These devices are also available for ship-to-shore audio and video communication should outside support be required.

Outside of its data communications systems, CENTURY HIGHWAY GREEN is also the first vessel on ClassNK’s registry to have been marked with the class society’s Remote Survey notation at the time of delivery.

Verification was carried out in line with ClassNK’s most recent Guidelines for Remote Surveys (Ver.2), published in January 2021 and including standards for remote survey applications to ensure reliability from remote processes is equivalent to conventional witness surveys.

The vessel is also equipped with ClassNK’s CMAXS software, a generator status diagnostic system for prevention of serious failures based on the early detection of engine anomalies.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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