Tessella has helped AkzoNobel create a new digital service, Intertrac Perform, which allows shipping customers to monitor the performance of their vessels.
Intertrac Perform provides visualisations of any ship’s hull and propeller performance in compliance with ISO 19030 (Measurement of changes in hull and propeller performance). This enables owners to monitor performance changes, spot when repairs are needed and assess the effectiveness of energy efficiency interventions – which include AkzoNobel’s coating products.
Since ships carry heavy loads across vast distances, efficiency improvements – including from hull coatings - have a big impact on fuel costs and emissions.
Intertrac Perform helps AkzoNobel engage customers by providing evidence-based insights into the performance of their vessels. This helps to build relationships which put AkzoNobel in a position to make trusted recommendations around hull coatings, then to validate their in-use impact.
For now, this allows AkzoNobel to build relationships and sell its coatings more effectively. But the service can assess the effect of many energy-efficiency decisions in shipping, so it's hoped that it will become a commercial service in its own right.
Why does a paint company need digital services?
The Marine Digital Voyage – the suite of Intertrac tools – started in 2011 and Tessella have been on board since. Intertrac Perform, the latest in this suite of digital tools, was completed in 2020.
It may sound surprising that a paint and coatings company is developing digital services, but it makes sense for AkzoNobel’s strategy.
“Customers increasingly want digital tools to evaluate their decisions, and we need to be able to back up our claims and guarantees”, says Barry Kidd, Vessel Performance Manager at AkzoNobel. “By giving them this insight, we make the decision to work with us easy for them.
Tessella got our plan from the start. They worked with us to scale our ambition at a manageable pace and learn as we go. But they also kept the bigger picture in mind, for example ensuring consistent languages and technologies are used to make future integration easier.
Vessel Performance Manager, AkzoNobel
Big data, disparate sources
At the heart of Intertrac Perform is a model, developed in cooperation with leading academic experts, that uses data from ship sensors. These include delivered power and speed, wind and ocean conditions, and fuel consumption – to calculate vessel performance.
The complex model combines large data sets gathered from sensor data from ships; metocean data (current, wave, sea level, meteorological etc) from satellites; GPS locations data; hydrodynamic hull models; and AkzoNobel’s R&D insight into coating performance.
"The biggest challenge," says Marieke Bode, Project Manager at Tessella, “was combining and processing the vast amounts of data from disparate data sources to enable verification of the model and present a reliable result”. This was a highly complex data engineering challenge.
In operation, data gathered from a ships’ systems is sent to AkzoNobel, where it's checked and uploaded into a cloud database.
The Intertrac Perform model then allows analysts to select and run appropriate models and delivers insights into vessel speed and power performance. This is presented via an easy to understand dashboard which shows performance over time, and uses a traffic light system to indicate the need for interventions.
Art of the possible and value at every stage
Intertrac Perform started with a brief to create a way of using the model to provide a digital service to customers – managing the data input and user interactions. Tessella helped AkzoNobel ‘storyboard’ the project; researching the end-user experience and available data, to understand what was possible, and how different options could play out.
The project was delivered iteratively, starting with a minimal viable product, and progressing towards a fully-deployed operational system. Tessella brought in different technical experts throughout to bring our full range of experience – data science, data management, software, IT, and visualization - to refining and testing the whole system to ensure it was fit for real-world use.
Kidd says: “Tessella bring deep insight across the board – from start to finish – which is invaluable to projects like this. They understand complex data and how to work with it to the necessary standards, but also understand the best technologies for the job – databases, cloud platforms, visualization tools, etc and how to put them all together into a working system. They help us from conception, delivery, deployment into IT infrastructure, and ongoing support, to ensure we deliver value to our customers."
“Added to that, they're honest and upfront about what’s happening when, and the time it'll take. When my internal stakeholders ask me to account for the spending and value of the projects, I can honestly say ‘yes I know where the money goes and what I get’. That makes it much easier to get things done in a big company”.
Value in partnership
Building these tools with support from Tessella means AkzoNobel can align them to the company's value proposition, rather than relying on an off-the-shelf approximation. It also gives AkzoNobel complete oversight and control of data – which would be hard with a third-party tool.
But most importantly it allows a joined-up approach. AkzoNobel can gradually connect the different Intertrac tools, growing their digital capabilities and predictive power, whilst learning more about their customers and their own value as they go. That gives them a very powerful offering.
All of this has been made easier by having a consistent partner and approach throughout.
“As we have progressed through several projects together, Tessella has also developed a deep understanding of our organization and customer challenges, so that with each new project we start from a slightly more advanced point. This is invaluable as we create ever more sophisticated digital services, and gradually bring everything together into a joined-up ecosystem.”
It’s an investment, but it’s money well spent, and the rewards are worth it.
Vessel Performance Manager, AkzoNobel