Passenger metrics can be used to aid ship design (Image: Paromat)
Aside from the uncertain times we currently face, the cruise industry is seeing considerable orders for large-scale newbuild fleets that offer unique leisure facilities and luxury environments boasting more innovation than land-based five-star resorts.
As we introduce innovative new technologies such as rapid prototyping, assistive manufacturing technologies, building information modelling (BIM) and computational design to the newbuild process, we notice a closer relationship between design and manufacturing supply chains than ever before. Within the newbuild context, future shipyards are likely to implement digital fabrication systems for all processes during shell, hull and fit-out fabrication. From a design, operations and facilities management standpoint, we have approached cruise ship revitalisation projects with tools such as BIM that allow us to explore new digital methods for auditing onboard environments, assets, movement, defects and facilities.
Leading carriers are keen to adopt the best innovations to assist with shipbuilding and refit projects, as well as digital assistive systems for maintenance throughout the ship's life. At the process of handover, the management of production information and equipment data is contained within owner manuals, which regularly become superseded when future improvements occur to the ship. Digital platforms such as BIM provide a benchmark to assist with a fully accountable system of architectural, engineering and production information, essentially allowing designers to simulate and visualise safety and capacity planning studies of the ship, as well as other measures such as onboard asset performance.
Feedback from large cruise operators has shown that major issues still occur with regards to capacity flow and passenger movement during full operation at sea, embarkation and disembarkation intervals. This is partly caused by ad hoc onboard changes to the layout of the ship without modifying the superstructure, which results in unprecedented pinch points to the passenger circulation. This raises a series of questions – what changes can be made to onboard environments to improve passenger capacity? What allowances have been made to resolve over-capacity within key onboard environments during emergency disembarkation?
After researching typical customer experience reviews and loyalty reports, a common issue found throughout the cruise industry relates to the lack of adequate flow and circulation, especially at arrival and departure periods. This issue even costs operators their brand loyalty, with certain customers now opting for smaller and more exclusive vessels with reduced passenger capacities. Operators have introduced various methods to combat this, such as boarding and disembarkation time slots for passengers, but challenges still arise with passenger capacity management.
Operators also face issues with managing the logistics for hotel duties while passengers occupy their cabins during the disembarkation process, resulting in smaller timeframes for cleaning and maintenance before the new guests arrive. Some operators bypass this issue by encouraging passengers to wait in public spaces such as bars or retail arcades, which also increases sales during off-peak periods.
With other onboard technologies rapidly improving – including wearables integrated with radio-frequency identification to allow passengers to access cabins, purchase amenities and share information with crew (such as allergies) – the future potential for smart connected cruising has never looked so promising. With the incorporation of our BIM for Marine efforts, operators can capture real-time passenger metrics to simulate crowd movement, which can then be used when designing new vessels. By addressing any potential pinch points with passenger flow and capacity, safety standards are also likely to be further improved.
As a result of architectural and onboard survey analysis at Paromat, we have developed cutting-edge internet of things (IoT) technology to monitor passenger movement in real time with remote surveillance capabilities. Our system uses integrated facial recognition and proximity sensors in the main footfall areas of passenger vessels. Through our content and data analysis platform, we can monitor and quantify passenger movement, allowing crew members to plan the embarkation and disembarkation process in real time. This system also accommodates an audit trail of footfall analysis and passenger count tracking by allowing facilities managers to foresee heavy traffic environments, which can maintain passenger loyalty and reduce costs on last-minute repairs.
With the introduction of our technology, we foresee further capabilities for connectivity and real-time analysis with IoT asset management, for example allowing operators to track onboard equipment to ensure reliability and efficiency during operations. The result? A fully integrated and connected passenger marine ecosystem that allows crew and operators to analyse and control real-time data by ensuring smooth operations, constant revenue, maintenance standards, and most importantly, sustaining passenger loyalty at all times.
Matthew Jensen is the founding director of Fraiserline Architecture and Paromat IoT Technologies.
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