The Future Of Marine Innovation Lies In Collaboration
May 06, 2015
Paul English
Innovation is key to progression and driving change in any sector. So when times are tough, as they currently are in the offshore support vessel industry, innovation across the industry is necessary to increase commercial advantages for ship owners, shipbuilders and end users.
True innovations make a real impact across the supply chain. It’s true, some innovations can simplify one area only to increase complexity in others, but the focus for the offshore vessel industry must be on reducing CAPEX and OPEX whilst increasing operational performance to benefit all participants in the ship design, build and operation phases, making a real impact industry wide.
The future of this innovation lies in collaboration. Companies like GE are well-known for their expertise in delivering energy efficient equipment and advanced software, as well as their ability to build these technologies into intelligent shipboard systems. But this expertise can be used in new ways to help drive further innovation during turbulent economic environments. 
Collaborating with designers
We’re now collaborating with leading global ship designers from vessel conception to delivery, pushing the limits of the vessel feature set and driving new operational efficiencies that deliver greener and more cost-effective ships from the outset.
GE’s SeaLab brings together the company’s expertise (analysis and tools) and solutions (products and systems) from across the GE Store to work directly with leading naval architects and vessel designers to enable the creation of better ships through design.
GE’s experts combine decades of experience with ultra-modern software modeling tools to analyze a vessel’s anticipated operational profile, optimizing the design from the offset. GE has the ability to test the performance of a ship’s systems, from power systems, propulsion systems to advanced features like dynamic positioning against mathematical models, and against different combinations of weather and other marine conditions, to assess and refine vessel performance. 
One of the tools used to enhance ship performance is GE’s Vessel Performance Analyzer* (VesPA). It provides real-time comparisons of the performance of different electrical configurations, enabling GE to design and configure optimal power, propulsion and electrical solutions to match customers’ specific requirements. VesPA also estimates the annual operational expenditures incurred by the vessel design, so equipment selections can be made to minimize fuel consumption and achieve further savings. 
Through all the key elements of a ship, from power and propulsion through to accurate positioning on the roughest of waters, collaboration on design is rapidly changing the offshore vessel industry. 
Power: In a recent design investigation in GE’s SeaLab, careful system design reduced the installed power requirement by 25% compared to the baseline design, meaning the vessel requires fewer or smaller engines, which can be translated into CAPEX savings, reduced fuel costs and increased payload within the hull.
Propulsion: GE’s Inovelis* is a podded thruster with fuel efficiency and overall performance which allows fuel savings up to 10 percent over conventional Azimuth propulsion. But it’s more than just fuel saving – it also liberates machinery spaces, improves operational performance and creates a propulsion system which is matched to the precise needs of the ship’s mission. 
Positioning: Dynamic positioning (DP) has brought amazing precision to ship navigation and operations.  Going beyond an advanced computer system, GE’s SeaStream* DP sets the right course for user-friendly ship control. Its Energy Efficient mode, which uses predictive software to anticipate position and heading variation, limit excessive power and thrust changes, is expected to save operators up to 10% in fuel usage, increasing the potential efficiency of ships within the design phase. 
A vessel which is designed through collaboration at the outset stands to benefit from the most appropriate equipment and system configurations matched to the exact needs of the ship. Through involvement at the very beginning, GE is ultimately saving ship owners’ time and money. 
The traditional way of inputting the necessary products and components after the ship has been built may still work, but in this era of innovation and transformation, the future of all industrial design will take place in a more collaborative way: drawing on extensive expertise and heritage within electrical engineering, data and modeling to create the most affordable and effective vessels the sea has ever seen. 
* indicates a trademark of the General Electric Company and/or its subsidiaries

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Paul English

I am the Marine Business Leader for GE’s Power Conversion business. In this role I am responsible for global business operations in the marine segment. I’ve always been interested in the sea and my role with GE let me combine my interests. I am also a Chartered Engineer and member of the IET. Growing up in Hong Kong, I’ve had the chance to experience different cultures and business. I studied Systems Engineering at the University of Portsmouth and hold a B.S.C (Hons.) degree in Engineering with Business.