Navigation path

Decrease textIncrease textDividerPrint versionRSSDivider

Cost-effective Inspection and Structural Maintenance for Ship Safety and Environmental Protection throughout its Life Cycle

The project aims at significantly improving the reliability of assessing a ship’s condition, by attaching all measurements performed on an operating ship to a numerical 3D model of the ship. This will enable both the electronic exchange of data between maritime actors and a 3D visualisation of the condition of the ship’s structure.

Tags: Water


An increasing number of structural measurements (especially thickness measurements) is required by regulatory bodies for operating ships in service at sea.

Measurement information consists of thickness measurements, visual assessment of coating and crack detection. In the existing situation, because there is no standardisation of data, the measurements are recorded manually on ship sketches or tables, which are very difficult to handle. Measurement information takes a long time to report and to analyse, leading to some repairs being performed at the next docking of the ship.

Performing the reporting of these structural measurements efficiently requires processing measurement information on a real-time basis. This would result in cost savings because a faster assessment of the ship’s condition and quicker decision-making could be done while the ship is still in the dock for maintenance.

Reliability of the analysis of the measurement reports could also be significantly improved by the use of electronic displays, associated with automatic warning devices in case of excessive deterioration of the structure. This is to be compared with today’s existing paper measurement reports, which are checked manually, page by page, by surveyors.


The system is built around the design of an exchange standard format to describe, in a neutral way, the structural data and associated measurements. All tools used in the ship hull monitoring process are expected to have this exchange standard format incorporated.

The system to be developed in this project includes such innovative features as:

  • the development of a simplified and flexible ship electronic model which can be refined to fit the needs of classification inspections
  • additional measurement information into the ship model
  • automatic updating of the measurement information into the ship model
  • the integration of robotics
  • easy handling of measurement information using virtual reality
  • immediate worldwide access.

Systematic comparison and consistency checks of measurement campaigns will make it easy to trigger electronic alerts. Repair decisions and residual lifetime of the structure will be calculated with modern methods of risk-based maintenance modelling, with the interesting feature that the model will be updated after each measurement campaign.

The system to be developed is applicable to any ship type, but tankers and bulk carriers will be used as the main case studies due to the current focus on these ships.

3D electronic model of a ship
3D electronic model of a ship

Description of work

The project’s central deliverable is the format of the files exchanged between thickness measurement companies and classification societies, which will take the shape of an XML schema. The first step is to collect the users’ requirements, which will be identified by the members of the project and therefore reflect the points of view of all actors involved in the process.

This exchange standard for structural data and measurement information will then be incorporated in all major scenarios anticipated for the use of the exchange standard:

  • input and update of ship structure geometry
  • input of measurements
  • recording of repairs
  • input from measurement robots
  • 3D visualisation of the ship structure and measurements
  • condition assessment by the classification society and checking of the conformity of the condition with applicable classification rules
  • probabilistic prediction of future structural condition.

Prototype software tools are being built, which will validate these scenarios of use.

All prototypes tools will be integrated and a full-scale demonstration with a real ship in dry-dock will be run at the end of the project.


The major deliverable is the exchange standard format for the transfer of structural data and measurements. The exchange standard is expected to enable the transfer of electronic information between all the actors involved in the ship hull monitoring process, especially between the thickness measurement companies and the classification societies.

It will also enable the visualisation of the hull in 3D, for reliably checking the hull condition.

The exchange standard is presented as an XML schema, accompanied by an exhaustive documentation.

It is expected that this exchange standard will first attract attention by its intrinsic qualities. However, this could later be accepted by regulatory authorities as the official reporting format for measurements on board operating ships. Thus, the continuous and reliable follow-up of the ship condition during the whole operating life of the ship would certainly greatly contribute to the safety of ship operation.