Utilising vessel data monitoring to improve crew safety
In recent years there has been growing acceptance of the need to protect maritime crew from the shocks and impacts received during open water transits. This is evident in the explosion of shock mitigating seating products available and the associated press articles, conferences, and government contracts all based around the subject.
Scientists have been utilising acceleration data logging for many years to research the magnitude of the forces imparted upon the vessel, equipment and occupants. But is it now relevant for vessel operators to use data monitoring?
If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Traditionally vessels are built to withstand their operational environment, based upon previous experience of the conditions they will encounter and the limits the human occupants can withstand.
However, with the latest shock mitigation technology we can now drive vessels harder and faster. In the past, an impact of 5g (five times the Earth’s gravity) may have caused the crew to slow down, but now with suspension seats they may feel comfortable to travel whilst the vessel is receiving impacts of 10g.
As well as the obvious increased stress on the hull, this now means that anything fitted within the vessel is facing double the impact loads. Engine mounts that previously supported the weight of the powertrain, may no longer absorb the load placed on them and damage the engine.
Benefits of using data recording
Monitoring speed and impact forces on the vessel and its occupants can enable an operator to protect their investment and better forewarn the crew if they are approaching safe operational limits. The data can be used in real-time as a live display or recorded to memory to be studied later. Some companies follow a proactive approach, planning better operations based upon the results, whilst others may only look at the data following an incident to understand the cause and learn for the future.
Informing the crew?
Whilst having a display showing that severity of each shock seems an obvious solution, this is often not the best tactic. The people onboard the boat already know about the last impact; as they felt it. Travelling on water always includes a risk of encountering an unexpected wave or wake from a passing boat. To slow down or cease operations because of a singular event is not practical.