Microsoft and Wärtsilä transform marine IoT

  • December 15, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

German marine IoT firm Wärtsilä Voyage has partnered Microsoft to integrate Azure IoT Edge and accelerate its efforts towards industrialising IoT for shipping through a scalable cyber-secure platform.

Wärtsilä Voyage specialises in maritime end-to-end onboard technology with decades of experience and expertise in high-end marine IoT offerings. Its platform helps companies deploy digital technology to the market faster and more easily.

This collaboration signals Wärtsilä Voyage’s focus and commitment towards the deployment of streamlined intelligent edge technology, an enabler to meet the industry’s decarbonisation targets as well as large-scale application of autonomous technology.

“The maritime world is entering the digital era where mutualising our investments into common platforms and standards are a prerequisite to successful innovations for a more sustainable and efficient maritime industry,” said Sean Fernback, president of Wärtsilä Voyage and executive vice president of Finland-based parent company Wärtsilä. “The Wärtsilä common platform will act as an enabler to deploy future technology for autonomy and emissions reduction. We want to focus our efforts on those fields with commonly shared standards that give vessels easier access to innovations.”

Wärtsilä Voyage will also focus on strategic themes spanning industrial remote operation capabilities, cyber security with active monitoring, runtime and commonly shared data standards to ease collaboration between maritime stakeholders.

“The same way smartphone and some automobile manufacturers are able to update, deploy new features and improve their systems remotely, the new generation of digital ships needs to constantly adapt, update to keep up with their evolving ecosystems while staying cyber secure at all times, said Pierre Guillemin, vice president of technology at Wärtsilä Voyage.

Through its secured-by-design remote operation capabilities, the Wärtsilä platform will enable immediate access to the latest technology onboard. Asset commissioning, diagnostic, updates and upgrades will be performed remotely, streamlining maintenance, speeding up deployment and increasing vessel uptime.

Wärtsilä Voyage will also integrate several Microsoft security and IoT offerings to strengthen the platform with monitoring, security updates and asset management services.

“Wärtsilä Voyage is innovating with solutions that reduce carbon emissions and enhance autonomous shipping,” said Ralph Haupter, president of Microsoft in Emea. “Its vision of the secure and connected vessel will be anchored by Microsoft IoT edge and security. We look forward to help drive this significant step in the industry’s transformation.

With this, Wärtsilä Voyage will accelerate its efforts towards building an open development environment with standardised data formats and APIs that reduce fragmentation, integrate systems to reduce the complexity of digital services lifecycle, and have multi-layered cyber security built into every smart ship and maritime ecosystem.

“There is a need to reinforce and scale what has already been developed in specific segments of the industry, for instance in the cruise business where sensor systems are already widely integrated,” said Guillemin. “Our 15 years of experience in this segment puts us in an ideal position to lead this effort.”

Building on Wärtsilä Voyage’s existing IoT experience, the collaboration will further help unlock autonomous capabilities.

“Digital systems essential for vessel autonomy, such as extending existing sensor technologies, require a paradigm shift in processing power and integration to enable the next generation of autonomous vessel systems,” said Guillemin. “Wärtsilä Voyage’s long experience in machine learning, for instance, gained through the development of vessel optimisation systems and flagship autonomous projects such as Intellitug, help us in scaling integration capabilities across the maritime industry.”

Wärtsilä Voyage transforms how vessels perform their journeys and ports manage their operations by leveraging the digital technologies. Using data and AI-driven software, it delivers real-time insights into operations, performance and energy use to enhance safety, efficiency and reliability, while reducing emissions. Its technology combines bridge infrastructure, cloud data services, decision support systems and smart ports to enable shore-to-shore visibility.