Campbell Shipping, ER Schiffahrt and SM Lines are upgrading container ship and bulk carrier satellite communications for operational and crew welfare benefits
Owners of dry cargo ships, including container liners, are focused on improving social communications for their crews using VSAT, creating a number of new contracts for VSAT service and coverage providers.
Some shipowning companies have commented on this trend, proving insights into their choices. Mumbai-headquartered Campbell Shipping, which describes itself as “employee-focused [and] client-driven”, chose to upgrade communications across its fleet of 12 bulk carriers by installing Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress (FX) on each vessel. This will involve replacing the Ku-band VSAT that they currently use on Inmarsat’s XpressLink service with Ka-band hardware.
Crew on these ships will see improvements in online access and connectivity to shore, said Campbell Shipping vice president for human capital Anindya Dasgupta. “Reliable connectivity is crucial,” he said. “Faster onboard internet and low-cost calling options will result in improved morale, contributing to productivity and the retention of talent.”
There will also be operational benefits for Campbell Shipping in terms of more bandwidth for transferring onboard data. “We expect the additional bandwidth provided by FX will facilitate closer monitoring of day-to-day vessel operation,” said Capt Dasgupta, “which, over the longer term, will lead to gains in operational efficiency and cost savings.”
“VSAT will enable us to accelerate improvements in other areas of vessel IT infrastructure”
By migrating to Ka-band VSAT, Campbell Shipping will benefit from faster connections to the internet. “VSAT will enable us to accelerate improvements in other areas of vessel IT infrastructure,” Capt Dasgupta explained, “allowing more activities and functions to be supported and carried out on board.” This includes managing onboard IT infrastructure and its own management system, Campbell Target Operating Model.
Shipmanager ER Schiffahrt chose KVH Industries to upgrade satellite communications on a fleet of 60 container ships and dry bulk carriers. Part of the reason for this was access to high-throughput satellites (HTSs) when ships are under the Ku-band spot beams.
Upgrading these ships to VSAT involves installing KVH’s advanced 60-cm TracPhone V7-HTS antenna and associated below-deck equipment. ER Schiffahrt will then subscribe to KVH’s AgilePlans connectivity-as-a-service package for these ships.
Installing the hardware started in January this year on 11 ships and the other 49 will be connected during this year. ER Schiffahrt director of marine and quality Christoph Werner said the reasons to deploy KVH’s VSAT were its “fast data speed, reliable data management and global coverage.”
He also said that the flexibility of KVH’s AgilePlans programme would be “a great benefit to our business”. TracPhone V7-HTS should provide each ship managed by ER Schiffahrt download speeds of up to 10 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps.
Container ship operator SM Line has installed Intellian Technologies’ V100 antennas on a fleet of 21 vessels to enable freight monitoring and improve crew welfare. It has become the first South Korean container shipping company to have the ability to monitor and track the condition of items in a container in real-time.
This was especially important for its reefer containers as SM Line’s customers are now able to monitor the temperature and humidity of a container and track it throughout its supply chain, both on shore and on board.
SM Line gained “a comprehensive and connected smart solution that was tailored to our needs” from Intellian, it said in a statement in January. V100 VSAT provides “access to the data we need to deliver services based upon detailed and comprehensive intelligence”, the ship operator added. SM Line operates services within Asia and across the Pacific Ocean between Asia and North America.