Digitalization Activities

We promote "Digitalization" initiatives for solving the various issues faced by our sites by making use of digital technologies and analyzing collected data to create new value. The Group has on-site employees that turn their ingenuity into actions, and our four labs (i.e., Monohakobi Technology Institute (MTI), Japan Marine Science Inc. (JMS), NYK Business Systems Co. Ltd., and startup Symphony Creative Solutions Pte. Ltd.) work together with one another and external partners to create solutions.

Implementing Ship Information Management System [SIMS]

Through the implementation of SIMS (Ship Information Management System) in 2008, the NYK Group has been able to share data among workplaces on land and sea in real time, including detailed hourly updates on shipping operations and data related to fuel consumption. Optimized economic vessel operations and energy-saving operations are realized by visualization of information and close information-sharing among crew members, shipowners, ship operators, and ship managers. SIMS has been installed on 196 of our operating vessels (as of the end of March 2018).

<Vessels> Making Onboard Work More Efficient [UMS Check System]

An unmanned machinery space (UMS) check system enables the operation status of onboard machinery to be checked and recorded when conducting unmanned operation of an engine room at night. We introduced digital tablet entry for the approximately 2,000 items that were previously checked on paper, and this reduced crew work for identifying anomalies and allowed us to easily share data with other vessels. We are also promoting the development of a system to enable detected anomalies to be notified to shoreside personnel and thereby identify machinery trouble at an early stage.

<Vessels> Optimizing navigation plans, making route planning more efficient, and enabling swift support of emergencies [J-Marine NeCST]

NYK, MTI and Japan Radio Co. Ltd. recently teamed up to develop J-Marine NeCST, an operational support tool that lets users manage and share electronic charts and other voyage information on large-screen displays. By fusing its years of experience in vessel operation management with its partners' technological capabilities, the Group has successfully developed a one-of-a-kind tool that not only lets users write information by hand on electronic charts but also boasts incredible operability and maneuverability. The tool even has a feature that integrates prepared route information with the Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) that all large cargo vessels making international voyages must now have. The tool also lets users superimpose meteorological and sea conditions information, thereby streamlining and optimizing the process of drafting voyage plans. By digitizing vessel-specific information, as well, the tool enables information-sharing among ships and land-based sites to make onboard and onshore work processes more efficient. In January 2018, the same device was installed at the Tokyo head office's Crisis Management Center (CMC), allowing the Group to retrieve vessel operation data in a timely manner at the office and thus provide swift crisis support and high-quality safety management.

<Vessels> Reducing Crew Member Workload [Kirari NINJA]

Photograph of the inside of a combustion chamber taken by Kirari NINJA, shown in the upper photo.

MTI and Daito Electron Co. Ltd. have jointly developed Kirari NINJA (patent pending), a device that can automatically photograph the inside of a vessel engine's combustion chamber. Until now, a crew member had to stop the engine and go inside to inspect the combustion chamber. However, darkness made seeing the inside of the chamber in detail difficult. Also, working for long periods in high temperatures exhausted crew members. Kirari NINJA contains a panoramic camera and a light that can take 360-degree photographs of the interior during one round of vertical piston movement (which takes approximately 10 minutes) when the device is installed on the upper part of the piston in the combustion chamber. This dramatically reduces the workload of crew members. Moreover, the photographs taken enable them to see the condition of the inside of the combustion chamber in great detail, which promises to help prevent engine accidents and reduce maintenance costs.
In 2018, the Group also developed a smaller version of Kirari NINJA that has improved operability and convenience and can take photos inside small cylinders.

<Vessels> Analyzing Sounds to Prevent Machinery Failure [Kirari MUSE]

NYK and MTI have jointly developed a diagnostic tool that records, visualizes, and analyzes the operational sounds of a vessel's engine plant. The sound of machinery in operation is often an important factor used to diagnose the condition of that machinery. However, an unfamiliar sound is often difficult to convey to others. Kirari MUSE enables us to easily share sounds with others on ships and shore, and accumulated sound data can help us to realize small changes day by day. Analyses of abnormal sounds are performed by experienced crew members. The tool applied accumulates know-how of vessel operation over many years to allow us to perform highly accurate diagnoses and detect abnormal conditions and breakdowns of machinery at an early stage. Onboard trials will begin shortly.

<Vessels> Supporting Safe Vessel Handling [i.Master]

Docking and undocking is one of the tensest times in vessel operations. To provide assistance in reducing the risk of colliding with the quay, the Group has introduced i.Master software for handheld digital charts. The software gives crew members a bird's eye view of the vessel's movement and the surrounding situation. Via a tablet computer, the software shows crew members the course of a vessel and its docking or undocking speed and automatically identifies other vessels. Furthermore, the system allows crew members to monitor docking and undocking constantly without being on the bridge. Collisions with the quay could force vessels to lay up for long periods. As well as inconveniencing customers, such delays would lead to a loss of trust. By using i.Master effectively, we reduce the risk inherent in docking and undocking. i.Master is just one example of our innovative efforts to develop useful technologies for a range of operational situations and thereby build systems that ensure stable, safe, and efficient vessel operations.

<Vessels> Enabling Accurate, Easy Measurement of Tank Liquids [Honesty]

MTI and Semco Ltd. have jointly developed Honesty, an efficient tank sounding device (patent pending) that improves efficiency when measuring liquid stored in the vessel's tanks. Tank sounding entails measuring the depth of liquid stored in the tank or the distance from the top of a tank to the liquid surface. Honesty significantly streamlines the process of sounding the surface of liquids in tanks. Moreover, the device accurately measures cappuccino bunker, which causes the quantity of delivered bunker oil to appear greater than it actually is due to small air bubbles being in the bunker oil when bunkering. Honesty is able to measure accurately the quantity of bunkered oil, even cappuccino bunker, because its sensor does not react to bubbles on the surface of the liquid. In addition to bunker oil, the device can measure colorless and transparent liquid, such as lubricating oil, ballast water, and bilge. While incorporating a range of progressive features, the device has outstanding usability. It is lightweight and easily portable and does not require an external power source because it operates on standard batteries. Also, Honesty has received approval from the ship classification society ClassNK.

<Operations Management> Understanding the Status of Vessels [SIMS + LiVE]

LiVE (Latest information for Vessel Efficiency) portal site

Our vessels are equipped with various sensors for steering and understanding the status of the engine plant. SIMS enables this data to be shared with shoreside personnel, and LiVE is a portal for data visualization. This data enables shoreside personnel in charge of vessel operation and ship management to quickly understand the situation, and is utilized to identify optimal operation and trouble at an early stage. We are also conducting research and development into analyzing the data accumulated by SIMS.

<Logstics / Terminals> Providing Centralized Management of Complicated Cargo Movements [ICO terminals]

Unmanned gate system

Stringent storage and retrieval management is required for finished automobiles that are delivered to terminals by railway cars, transport vehicles, and vessels. At the ICO terminals in Belgium, we have achieved cutting-edge terminal operations by developing an integrated work management system that includes optimization of work plans and operations, and more efficient office work using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) with customers, unmanned gates, etc.

<Construction Sites> Building Environmentally Friendly Vessels [High-efficiency Propellers]

Testing a model propeller in a water tank (left) and observations of an actual vessel (right)

We have collaborated with MTI and Japan Marine United Corporation to develop sensors for measuring the status of vessel propeller operation in actual sea areas. The collected data was then analyzed and utilized to design a new high-efficiency propeller. The improved fuel efficiency of this propeller is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 1.2%.

Taking Part in "i-Shipping," a Japanese Government R&D Project for Advanced Safety Technology

IoT and other information technology are showing enormous potential to transform the shipping industry. Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is promoting research and development projects in this new technical area for a "productivity revolution in the maritime business" (i-Shipping). NYK, MTI, and other industry partners are now cooperating and pursuing technological development initiatives on four i-Shipping projects, including "vessel machinery plant trouble-prevention" and "collision avoidance and autonomous operation."

Promoting Innovation in the Maritime Industry

Investment in fundamental big data technology and involvement in active development are indispensable for achieving safe, economical, and environmentally friendly operations. The Group will promote a safe and efficient onboard IoT platform, in addition to digitalization initiatives, for innovation with shipbuilding companies, equipment manufacturers, ship classification societies, and various partners.