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Welcome to the 'Sperry Sphere' and the 'holy grail' of predictive maintenance

officer on bridge
Fresh from its recent Seatrade digital technology award Northrup Grumman Sperry Marine is developing a digital eco-system - Sperry Sphere - to provide preventative and predictive maintenance for launch at year end.

Sperry Sphere builds on the company’s 70 years of experience in the radar industry and is based around connecting its core bridge, compass and radar systems to the wider vessel network and securely sharing data with the shoreside operation.

Speaking to Seatrade Maritime News recently Simon Pinkney, director of product management at Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine, explained: “The Sperry Sphere platform, which hardware wise consists of product called maritime gateway which is a secure network gateway which enables connection front of bridge to back of bridge, and that then enables us to pull sensor data of the bridge and then connect to the rest of the vessel’s IT systems, and ultimately off into shoreside.

“That then enables the shipowning or operating company to see what the master mariner sees.”

While the concept of autonomous shipping has attracted a lot of attention Sperry Marine believes it is more about better linking the ship and shore to enable an improved decision making process.

“What we see is more about an assisted type model where there is a lot of data provided to shoreside and people can make decisions or analyse that data and make more effective decision making process,” Pinkney said.

By taking sensor data and information these can be analysed at the company’s facilities to understand what is happening with individual pieces of equipment and when they require maintenance or replacement. “We’ll be able to go from preventive maintenance to the Holy Grail of predictive maintenance,” he said.

With this Sperry Marine, will be able to, “Put in place a preventive, or even predictive maintenance schedule, that enables them [the shipowner] to improve productivity, safety. When they pull into port we can have people waiting to carry out the work.”

The equipment supplier has been having discussions with selected customers and has a trial running with a major containership operator with an aim to launch the Sperry Sphere at the end of the year.

Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine won the Digital Technology Award for its VisionMaster Net radar at the Seatrade Awards in London in May.

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