Ship safety in the modern age with Survitec

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Rafal Kolodziejski, Head of Product Support and Development at Survitec explains how SMARR-TI Enhances Fire Safety in the Maritime Industry

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and evolving challenges in the maritime industry, ship safety management has never been more vital.

The introduction of new fuels, more complex systems, and the trend towards autonomous shipping has brought about new safety risks and hurdles.

The traditional safety management methods are becoming insufficient, leaving the maritime industry in need of innovative solutions.

Enter the Safety Management and Rapid Response Technology Interface (SMARR-TI), a ground-breaking solution that represents a transformative step forward in fire safety from Survitec.

By integrating fire detection and suppression systems within a single, interactive platform, SMARR-TI offers a comprehensive approach to onboard safety, addressing the contemporary maritime safety challenges.

Rafal Kolodziejski, Head of Product Support and Development at Survitec, reveals the direction of the maritime industry’s safety protocols and provides a closer look at the necessary innovations required to ensure safety at sea.

Can you explain the importance of ship safety management?

This is an exciting time for the maritime industry; we’re in a period of great change. There are key trends such as digitalisation and autonomous shipping driving the development of new and more advanced technologies.

At the same time, there is the drive towards greater sustainability, with the shift towards fuels that are more environmentally friendly, and the introduction of new legislative requirements to help reduce greenhouse emissions.

With new developments come new challenges. Each new or alternative fuel has its own safety risks and challenges.

For example, there is much discussion around effective fire suppression methods for methanol dual-fuelled ships, and for electrical propulsion systems with energy storage spaces.

The safe transportation of electrical vehicles and the risks associated with lithium-ion batteries is another focus area.

Furthermore, with autonomous shipping and the trend towards ships operating with fewer – or no – crew onboard, perhaps with operations being monitored from the shore, this then presents other safety risks and challenges that must be addressed.

Consequently, we see a greater need among ship owners and managers for solutions that can help to support crew with: Effective emergency procedures – i.e., procedures that are transparent and easy to follow; Early detection – to help identify changing conditions as early as possible to prevent a fire from happening; and Rapid response – to support fast and effective decision-making, especially in emergency situations.

How do traditional safety management methods fall short when it comes to contemporary needs of the maritime industry?

With the new fire risks and safety challenges associated with the new fuels and technologies of today, there is a renewed focus on fire prevention, and the possibility of detecting pre-fire conditions that can either allow for suitable preventive measures to be taken to avoid a fire from starting and/or that allows the crew to contain the fire more quickly and minimise damage.

We can also consider the number and complexity of the systems implemented on board a ship today, and the challenges this can present to crew.

A safety management system can potentially integrate different safety subsystems, allowing crew to manage them more easily and efficiently within one control system.

Diagnostics and preventive maintenance are also increasingly important, to ensure that the proper maintenance regimes are observed to keep safety systems running efficiently and to avoid any interruptions to service.

Remote support and monitoring services can also provide crew with fast access to expert technical support.

Systems can be monitored remotely – and even controlled, if required – from the shore, with the potential to log and track faults and analyse the data for insight on faults and/or behaviours.

What is SMARR-TI?

SMARR-TI stands for Safety Management And Rapid Response – Technology Interface. SMARR-TI is an interactive safety management solution that allows crew to monitor and control all their onboard fire safety systems – that is, their fire detection, fire prevention and fire suppression systems – within one integrated and easy-to-use solution.

SMARR-TI is unique in that it integrates both fire detection and fire suppression systems in one solution.

Currently, there is no other digitised safety monitoring solution that does this to such an extent.

How does the integration of fire detection and suppression systems contribute to enhanced safety onboard?

The aim is to give early warning of changes in a quick and effective way, and then to enable swift action to prevent a fire from happening.

A graphical visualisation of the fire systems on board the vessel is paired with real-time status updates and notifications, so crew receive early warning of any changing conditions.

In the event of a fault or alarm, crew has full visibility of the location of the alarm; the equipment at their disposal; and the ability to deploy systems automatically where possible, allowing them to take swift, decisive action to prevent or contain a fire, and protect onboard safety.

Can you talk about the interactive features of SMARR-TI?

In the event of a fire or an alarm, crew can see instantly where the alarm is located, visualised on the ship layout, and also the nature of the alarm (e.g., whether it’s the result of a technical fault or whether there is actually a fire).

Furthermore, they can select the protected space on the ship plan visualisation to see which equipment is available in that space; and then have the capability to activate a firefighting system within SMARR-TI by following the screen prompts.

All of these actions can be performed within SMARR-TI; all the information the crew needs is at their fingertips, thus shortening the time to action.

How does the SMARR-TI system supplement the SOLAS requirements for general arrangement plans onboard?

SOLAS Chapter II-2, Regulation 15.2.4 requires general arrangement plans to be permanently exhibited for the guidance of the ship’s officers.

These plans must show: structural fire prevention measures onboard ship (fire doors, fire zone barriers, etc); location of firefighting equipment; and how to access the different compartments & decks.

These are generally static plans, normally printed/mounted on walls, and supplemented by, e.g. instruction manuals for the different systems/equipment.

SMARR-TI supplements these general arrangement plans by providing a digital, interactive, graphical visualisation of the ship layout and all the structural fire prevention measures on board with Fire Detection & Suppression systems attached plus real-time alerts and notifications to alert crew of any changing conditions.

This means that not only can the crew see instantly where the alarm originates, they can also differentiate between e.g. a technical fault or the presence of smoke or flame.

The operating procedures for deployment of the firefighting systems can then also be displayed on screen, so the crew has all the information they need in one place to support quick and effective decision-making in the event of a fire.

Could you explain the specific role of SMARR-TI during a potential fire hazard?

Within SMARR-TI, crew members can receive instant notifications of technical faults impacting system delivery, such as faulty connections or interruptions to power.

They also receive warnings of pre-alarm conditions, such as temperatures exceeding predefined limits, or the presence of smoke or flame.

SMARR-TI allows them to distinguish immediately between routine maintenance issues and situations requiring an emergency response, so they can manage resources accordingly.

Furthermore, the crew can identify the precise location and exact nature of the alarm instantly on the ship plan visualisation.

They can also integrate and control their CCTV cameras within SMARR-TI, allowing for an immediate view of the affected zone and local areas.

This enables them to mobilise the crew more quickly and efficiently, equipped to take immediate, preventive action to secure the space and protect life.

Should there be a fire, crew members can immediately identify the safety systems at their disposal within the protected space.

They can then select a system within SMARR-TI and follow the step-by-step instructions displayed on screen to proceed towards deployment.

They can sound the alarm, close fire doors and fire dampers, shut down ventilation where necessary, and trigger signals to the public announcement and alarm monitoring systems, all within the same system.

The crew is also able to activate fire suppression systems, such as water mist, automatically, which reduces the time to deployment.

They can follow the operating procedures displayed on screen to guide them through system deployment, support effective decision-making, and reduce the risk of human error in high-stress situations.

The ultimate aim with SMARR-TI is to streamline firefighting operations and save valuable seconds or even minutes in an emergency, to help protect life and minimise damage.

Can you share your experience developing SMARR-TI alongside Turkish shipyard Tersan and Havila Voyages?

SMARR-TI was designed according to the requirements of Havila Shipping ASA, which had experience of similar systems from other suppliers.

The purpose behind building the application was to create a tool that could provide a graphical representation of the text information provided via their dedicated fire detection system.

From the start, it was made clear that this information should be presented clearly and effectively so that it should be immediately apparent to crew when there was an alarm/notification requiring their attention.

SMARR-TI was designed to depict both the location of the fire and the fire extinguishing system available for use, and then also allow for that fire extinguishing system to be released remotely where possible, with crew able to follow operating instructions presented on screen.

Most importantly, the required actions at each stage had to be intuitive and efficient: the application had to be simple and easy to use and to facilitate swift, decisive action.

What are Survitec’s future plans for the expansion of SMARR-TI?

The official launch of SMARR-TI at Nor-shipping in June generated a lot of interest, and we have had many interesting discussions, not only with shipowners and shipyards, but also with other technology providers and suppliers of fire solutions who are interested in the potential of SMARR-TI to support additional safety features and systems. 

Today we have SMARR-TI Mark-1, which integrates Fire Detection & Fire Suppression systems, however we have many other ideas on how we can further develop SMARR-TI, to support effective and efficient safety management – for example, the integration of loose fire equipment (information on location and servicing requirements); support for monitoring fire patrols; and, of course, the integration of other safety systems – to highlight just a few of the ideas that are currently on our radar.

This exclusive article was originally published in the September 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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