Martin Skogholt Hansen & Mikael Johansen
The Future of Offshore Supply
The Oslo School of Architecture and Design
The Future of Offshore Supply
We were impressed with the concept of a supply vessel that is efficient in cargo handling while strategically adding value to the economy of Norway.
The layers of details in the design created an interest that drew us deeper in wanting to know more.
The design was best in appearance, concept, and presentation in that it effectively utilized graphics, rendering composition, colors, and details. All design elements cohesively tied together with the concept.
The Future of Offshore Supply
The goal for this project was to explore the future of platform supply vessels and challenge the traditional way the maritime industry designs and use offshore vessels. The result is a concept of a new platform supply vessel, where we did explore design opportunities to increase efficiency, safety and flexibility of cargo handling. Container-like accommodations can be added to the vessel itself to meet demands of different scenarios. The key feature of the new design is the attachable unit behind it, like a trailer on water. This unit can for example be designed as a cargo-unit or sub-sea installment unit.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
With this project we set out to explore the future of platform supply vessels for the shipbuilder Ulstein. What will the needs be for these ships in the future? How will technology evolve and impact this industry? Can we find new opportunities to increase efficiency, safety and flexibility of cargo handling offshore?3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
We as design students saw the opportunity to make something different and more “out-there” to push the industry in new directions. Our impression of the maritime industry in Norway is that they do not experiment enough with ideas that distinguish their solutions from existing ship designs. Safety is the most important aspect in the offshore industry, but if you follow all regulations, which are very specific and describing, telling you how to tackle problems, you will end up with solutions very similar to earlier designs. The rules act as a guide on how to build vessels, killing much of the creativity. Safety-regulations are very specific; you could argue that they are too specific. An example of this is how the windows are tilted on the bridge to reduce reflections. Instead of measuring the amount of light reflected and set a max level, the regulations states that the solution is to tilt them 15 to 25 degrees outwards. So every offshore vessel has tilted windows instead of implementing other technologies or solutions that could do the same job, like for example optical filters or anti-reflex coatings. As students, we were free to push the boundaries and contribute to discussions on how to implement solutions that challenges the regulations. Also by having a systems oriented design approach, we found a new and better workflow for the vessels, both on land and at sea.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Being designers, what we can bring to the table is methodologies, a creative mindset and the ability to visualize and communicate ideas. Well, it is very hard to generalize what a designer is, but at least this is how we see ourselves in this project. Without having a background from the maritime industry, we are able to see things differently.
Systems Oriented Design
To manage complexity we need tools to visualize. As designers we often find it easier to understand concepts and situations by visualizing them, and it makes it easier for other interest groups to understand what we see and where we are in a context. A systems oriented design approach let us find and deal with complex systems. You can find these systems everywhere if you just take your time to break the situation down into detail. Sometimes even the smallest most obscure detail can have an impact you first did not see. By putting everything into relation to each other and visualizing, we found new connections and relations we would not have seen otherwise. Giga-mapping has been a valuable tool for us in this project. We put in as much information we could and structured it with relations in a map. This map made it easier for us to jump back and forth and look at different aspects of the context and get an overview to see new possibilities for innovation.
In the research phase we were allowed on board a Ulstein PSV vessel operating out of Peterhead in Scotland. Our goal with the trip was to get knowledge about how the system around the PSV functions as well as the main functions of the PSV. Another aspect was the emotional impact it made on us just by being present on the vessel. How does seven meters high waves feel like? How is it to live together with 10-15 other people on a vessel? The field trip gave us a lot of valuable information that we could not have obtained in other ways. During the trip we noted the actual times for each operation/sequence. The data show that most of the time on board a PSV is waiting time. Having vessels waiting in line both at harbor and at sea is a waste of resources, both economically and environmentally.
It is hard for a Norwegian company to compete at price, so today their products have to be of higher quality to be competitive. The battle for welding jobs in Norway has been lost a long time ago and where Norwegian shipyards win contracts now, is where we can put in new technology. As this concept consists of a standard vessel platform, production would become much more standardized than they are today. Standardized production lines and increased use of industrial robots will make in-sourcing possible, enabling the Norwegian maritime industry to be competitive with low-cost country sourcing. By introducing a modular platform of vessel design, entry barriers for new and smaller companies could be significantly lower. Investments can be made gradually with upgrades and capacities can be increased or decreased or functions can change altogether. Modularity gives new possibilities to build and do changes to the customer’s fleet portfolios. As the speed of technology accelerates, a modular vessel will let the industry follow the changes and adapt new technologies faster. This can for example lead to reduced emissions by implementing new fuel technologies. Or it can handle increasingly complex logistics by implementing new standards for how to execute cargo handling. Ships can work together in a new way, sharing cargo units and deliver units to each other. As a modular platform fleet can adapt to different operations and markets faster, it also lengthen its lifespan. Re-use and switching of owners for different types of markets would be much easier.