Editorial Feature

Using Radar Sensors in Ship Hull Maintenance

While the necessity for ship hull maintenance and health monitoring has been recognized, reliable technology has not been available. Now, sensor systems are being used to investigate ship hull structures.

Using Radar Sensors in Ship Hull Maintenance

Image Credit: Denys Yelmanov/Shutterstock.com

Radar, sonar, and fiber optic sensors are among the established monitoring technologies approved for ship hull monitoring and have even been embedded with the newest Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

What Are Radar Sensors?

Radar sensors are devices that convert microwave echo signals to electrical signals. They detect motion using wireless sensing technology that determines an object's shape, location, motion trajectory, and motion characteristics.

Unlike many other sensors, radar sensors are unaffected by light and darkness. Compared to other sensor technologies, such as ultrasound, radar can detect objects at a greater distance and exposure is safe for humans and animals.

Radar Sensors Applications

Radar sensors detect, track, locate, and identify various kinds of objects over long distances and are used in various applications. For example, these sensors have been utilized in traffic control, weather forecasting and onboard vehicles.  

A radar sensor with an adjustable field can identify vehicles as well as other things by detecting the mirror image of radio waves bouncing off the item.

Recently, radar sensors have also been employed in wearable technology, smart buildings and self-driving cars.

Hull Ship Monitoring System and Its Importance

The most apparent structural part of a ship is the ship hull. It forms the ship's waterproof enclosure that protects the ship's machinery, cargo, and accommodation sections from the elements, floods, and structural damage.

Systems that inform the ship's crew in real-time about its movements and potential external stressors are crucial during navigation and docking activities.

For ships sailing in ice-covered seas, for example, a hull structural monitoring system can measure and analyze ice impact loads in real-time after impact.

The stresses upon hull structures are estimated using the impact data, which are then evaluated. This information may help the ship's crew make educated choices about operating safely and efficiently on ice.

Hull monitoring systems can help to boost the effectiveness of the ship repair process, directing shipyard activities performed by maintenance and repair services.

Ship hull monitoring can be used to detect the lifecycle of a vessel by verifying the structural design and fatigue on the hull, such as during cargo loading. Here, systems can measure the capability and changes in static stress distribution in the hull.

Sensor Devices

Radar sensors can give real-time data and high precision of information.

Foil strain gauges, gyroscopes, and accelerometers, among other sensing devices, are commonly used to detect hull strain and ship motion. However, conventional ship hull monitoring systems, which integrate a range of sensors, can have high installation costs.

The installation of enormous lengths of coaxial cabling to transport sensor data to the ship's central processing unit, where data is evaluated and relayed to the bridge, accounts for a significant portion of the system cost.

As aluminum ships have larger insulating layers to keep the aluminum hull from weakening during a fire, the expenses associated with installing hull monitoring systems are much higher.

Radar Sensors in Hull Ship Maintenance

Damage diagnostics are performed using FMCW (frequency modulated continuous wave) radar sensors, and the findings are verified using contemporaneous camera footage. A ship's inspections sensor system has been developed to automate the ship's hull maintenance operation. Incorporating built-in artificial vision technology is the sensor system's critical contribution.

Surface wake synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is another sensor that is used for this application. This device features a vision system as well as a large sensor network that provides information about its relative location to the ship.

Internet of Things (IoT) radar sensors are also used to monitor the ship's hull, analyzing glass-fiber reinforced plastics (GFRP) and detecting material flaws like osmosis in boat ship hulls. GFRP is a cutting-edge material for current high-tech devices.

OndoSense smart sensors deliver an ultra-precise, durable, and trustworthy IoT radar sensor technology for a wide array of applications and sectors. The device collaborates so that people can develop bespoke sensor technology for a particular application using a working model. The radar sensors may be used for a variety of measurements, including ship hull repair.

Wärtsilä Smart Marine Sensors also has a radar sensor for detecting danger in ship hulls. Sensors may be deployed alone or as part of a navigation system.

Continue reading: Radar Applications in Smart Factories.

References and Further Reading 

Wartsila. (2022). Wärtsilä Smart Marine Sensors. https://www.wartsila.com/

Lorente, et al. (2013). Sensors Systems for the Automation of Operations in the Ship Repair Industry.https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/13/9/12345

Ondosense. (2022). Applications of our industrial radar sensors. https://ondosense.com/en/applications/

Wang, G., et al.  (2001). Ship hull structure monitoring using fibre optic sensors. Smart Materials and Structures. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0964-1726/10/3/308

Yu, H., et al. (2022). Hull Structural Performance Monitoring System for Ships Operating. OTC Arctic Technology Conference. https://doi.org/10.4043/23773-MS

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Akhlaqul Karomah

Written by

Akhlaqul Karomah

Akhlaqul has a passion for engineering, renewable energy, science, and business development.

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