Searchlight: benchmarking performance

As a developer and builder of vessels, Royal IHC is interested in knowing how well its dredging products are performing against the competition out in the ‘real world’. After all, acquiring actionable performance data is the best way to improve our product offering, because the learnings from this data pave the way for continuous improvement and optimisation. 

Although Royal IHC maintains strong relationships with customers during vessel operation and integrates their feedback, accessing objective analysis has often been a challenge in the past. Therefore, Royal IHC has created a new system that allows it to monitor the performance of the global dredging fleet. This standalone digital market intelligence portal – Searchlight – allows us to extract the entire operational profile of a TSHD, using a combination of publicly available information and data science.

Searchlight combines this freely available data (such as the automatic identification system (AIS) signal, weather information and sea charts) with intelligent machine-learning algorithms to determine a vessel’s task, time spent on the task, and uptime. Combining these results with our expert knowledge of dredgers and their drive systems allows for an estimation of both the dredger production, as well as its power and fuel consumption.

Access to these performance metrics is beneficial to both Royal IHC and its customers. We believe that in order to continuously improve and innovate, it is crucial for shipbuilders to know how their products perform out at sea. By comparing our operational data with that of our competitors, we can advise customers on the most efficient and cost-effective solutions for their needs.

A recent paper by Royal IHC researchers compared two comparable sized vessels (one non-IHC built and one IHC built) over the same project. Their performance is compared on metrics such as average and maximum speed, time spent per trip, and time spent loading etc. In this comparison the Royal IHC vessels outperformed the competition, in some cases resulting in 40% lower cycle times. 

Without the extensive knowledge that Searchlight provides, the risk is that a commissioned vessel could be over specified for its required task, and as a result, more expensive than it should be to purchase and operate. Searchlight ensures that a vessel is optimally designed for its intended purpose and able to perform this effectively and efficiently throughout its lifetime.

Related pages