ABB's Ability OCTOPUS-Marine Advisory System uses real-time weather data to avoid areas where excess ship motions could occur to avoid cargo damage, lower fuel use, emissions; company says system in use by 90% of semi-submersible heavy-lift ships globally

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ZURICH, Switzerland , May 19, 2022 (press release) –


ABB Ability™ OCTOPUS - Marine Advisory System transforms decision-making in vessel navigation by constantly optimizing route planning based on predicting ship motions in the ever-changing weather conditions.

Maritime transportation of goods and people, an essential driver of global economic activity, is set to triple by 2050 according to an OECD report.1 This increase will result in a dramatic rise in the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In the face of this sobering outlook, the IMO is pursuing efforts towards a 40 percent reduction in shipping’s carbon intensity by the end of this decade and a 70 percent cut by 2050.2

Vessel motion monitoring and forecasting can play an outsized role in helping operators of heavy-lift vessels meet the IMO’s emissions target and ensuring payloads and crew are kept safe. ABB Ability™ OCTOPUS - Marine Advisory System, for example, predicts vessel motions based on updated weather forecast, making it a vital tool for ship safety and route planning. Optimizing routes based on the continuous prediction of vessel motions is especially crucial in avoiding accidents and damages in the cargo market, where heavy lift ships transport huge, unwieldy cargoes such as 100-meter long blades for off-shore wind turbines.

The OCTOPUS system helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions and improve safety by enabling the crew to make better-informed decisions based on data and insights obtained through various data inputs throughout the ship. Even though voyages are meticulously planned in advance, rapidly developing weather conditions at sea may require quick changes of plan.

With OCTOPUS, ships have a real-time decision support system to adjust operations as needed. With a continuous flow of data coming from the onboard sensors and connected to weather routing software, OCTOPUS constantly analyzes and evaluates the operating conditions. Based on this information, it advises the ship’s crew with optimized route adjustments in order to avoid sea areas where excessive vessel motions are likely to occur, thus protecting the onboard cargo from damage. By minimizing exposure to conditions such as headwind, motion-based route optimization also decreases the vessel’s fuel consumption, resulting in a reduction of emissions.

More and more heavy-lift vessel owners are using OCTOPUS to utilize real-time decision-making in voyage planning and execution. ABB estimates that the system is currently used by around 90 percent of the semi-submersible heavy-lift ships in operation worldwide.

In addition to providing users with detailed information about current conditions, OCTOPUS helps to identify the risks related to vessel motions when changing heading or speed. Motions, such as roll and pitch, are calculated for the full range of headings and ship speeds and compared with an upper limit.

Vessel motion risk management of this type is already a powerful safety tool in the cargo market, where heavy-lift ships transport large-scale cargoes such as wind turbine parts and jack-up rigs, or even entire yachts. The sheer scale of these structures means that they are subject to far more extreme accelerations and stresses than are exerted on container stacks, no matter the size of the container vessel.

The OCTOPUS system is available for multiple ship types and segments such as the cruise industry, where it could be used to plan short routes, and the offshore wind power sector. ABB is continuously developing the system to support customers’ operations even better. This enables the user ashore to plan offshore operations according to the performance of the vessel, crew and equipment in current conditions.

To read more about how ABB technology is helping operators to make better decisions to achieve significant gains in productivity, reduce energy consumption and lower environmental impact, click here.

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Chelsey Quick
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