Monitoring the entire world from a secluded control room

Norwegian publication, Kystens Næringsliv, published an interview profiling how Corvus Energy uses digital solutions to remotely monitor Corvus energy storage systems installed on maritime vessels around the world. Below find an English version of that article translated and republished by Corvus Energy.

Photo Caption: Henning Dahl (left) in the Corvus Energy control room. From this control room Corvus monitors more than 400 ships with their battery systems installed. Photo Credit: Arvid Steen

From this control room in Bergen, Corvus monitors their installations on the seven seas.

“Before the captain and shipowners even know that anything is wrong, we are calling them,” says Henning Dahl, SVP Aftermarket and Digital at Corvus Energy.

From a secluded office in the district of Fana in Bergen, two Corvus employees sit and monitor a few hundred ships with battery packs supplied by the company. There are also some Canadian colleagues sitting there. The control center is open 24/7.

On the large screen on the wall small green symbols light up that show where the customers’ ships are at all times. [All are] ships that have purchased battery packs from the company as part of the propulsion system, usually a hybrid solution [batteries] with diesel, but many boats are also fully electric.

Monitoring battery packs 24/7

On another screen, the two operators can view the state of the ship’s batteries – and all the information about the ships.

“If there are any irregularities with our batteries, or the battery compartment becomes too hot, cold or the power goes out – we will be notified seconds later. Depending on the degree of severity, we call either the vessel or the shipping company. In many cases, we can remotely control our battery packs and fix them from the control room,” says SVP aftermarket, Henning Dahl to Kystens Næringsliv.

The battery giant offers two different [digital monitoring] solutions; a free solution and a second, paid solution with extended service and help. There, the customer also gets access to the company’s own customer portal, where they have a full overview of their batteries.

Have there been any serious incidents?

“No, fortunately not. We stay close to our battery customers to anticipate any problems. It is part of our service. We do not want anything to happen to our battery packs, which is why we follow up with our customers very closely. For many captains and shipping companies, it is new to have battery solutions as part of the propulsion system,” says Dahl.

Photo Caption: Corvus Energy Control room screen showing where all the ships with Corvus batteries are at any time.

400 ships spread across the seven seas

It’s quite a bit to keep track of for employees in the control room, looking at a world map of where ships with battery packs from the Bergen company are [currently] located.

Some ships are calmly chugging around outside Bømlo on the west coast. A cargo ship glides elegantly off Antarctica. Many sail in the China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. About twenty ships cruise around the Mediterranean.

“We have an overview of just over 400 ships. The number is increasing rapidly. We know almost exactly where all our customers are at any given time. It provides security for us – but of course also for the shipowners,” says Dahl.

Not Afraid of hackers

Last week Kystens Næringsliv wrote about DOF as they have hired a dedicated expert to tackle cyberattacks. This type of “hacking” is increasing according to the expert company Norma Cyber.

But can advanced battery systems which are part of a propulsion system get hacked?

“No. Fortunately, that is not possible. Our battery packs are not connected to a network where outsiders can connect. Our battery solutions are well protected in the ships where they are installed. We have one of the safest solutions, which we have developed with Microsoft. Having said that, you are not the first person to ask whether battery packs can be hacked,” says Dahl.

“Because in a world where hacking of companies on land and at sea is becoming more common, shipowners are also more nervous,” emphasizes Dahl.

Photo Caption: Henning Dahl. SVP Aftermarket and Digital in Corvus. On the screen you can see one green dot for every ship with a Corvus battery pack onboard. Photo Credit: Arvid Steen

“If you want to damage our batteries, you will have to physically go into the battery room onboard a ship. Then you also will need to have the understanding of how you can do it.” says Henning Dahl, Corvus

“Corvus has a market share of around 50-60 percent for marine battery systems. Batteries are an important part of the vessel’s propulsion. Not all of the vessels are 100% electric, since our customers mostly have hybrid solutions. But we have noticed in the past year that attention to cyber security at sea has increased considerably,” says Dahl.

Corvus’ battery solution Orca Energy is cyber security certified by DNV. Work is underway to certify the new products, which will start delivery later in 2024. “If you want to destroy our batteries, you have to physically enter the engine room of a vessel, and then you also will need to have the understanding of how you can do it,” he says.

Experienced a cyber attack.

The biggest threat for Corvus is therefore not that their battery packs will be hacked, but the company’s offices can be put out of business. This actually happened autumn 2021.

“I remember exactly where I was when I got the message: “Corvus has been hit by hackers. Turn off all electronic equipment.” We quickly switched to a closed chat group on mobile and had to use paper and pen to send messages. That incident was an eyeopener. Now we have upgraded our firewalls, and sleep safely at night,” says Dahl.

“We have a strong brand, but the technology is relatively new. The safety level at sea needs to be a lot higher then on land as you cannot just evacuate. This also means that battery operation and hybrid solutions are vulnerable to major accidents. That is why we are so extremely keen to look after our customers,” he says. “This is also why we recommend all shipowners to be connected to a monitoring system”.

Shipowner from Bergen sleeps well

Shipowner, Misje does not worry about their ships with battery systems. The shipowner has hybrid ships with Corvus batteries as part of the propulsion system. “We are very happy with the support we get. We do not have a paid [digital monitoring] solution but know Corvus will be there to support in case something happens.”

Why monitoring energy storage system performance matters?

Each battery system is designed to a specific operational profile. As a result, operating within the designed range improves overall energy efficiency and can extend the lifetime of the system. Conversely, not operating within the designed range, which can and does happen, reduces efficiency and can cause unintended wear-and-tear. For these reasons, monitoring actual use is critical to get the most out of your battery system.

Corvus Energy developed an industry-leading digital monitoring tool that allows shipowners to monitor system energy flows and key metrics, such as temperature, anytime and from anywhere in near real-time. This allows shipowners to optimize battery system use, improve energy efficiency, and proactively troubleshoot, supporting overall system lifetime and safety.