Collaboration about mobile networks on ships

DFDS works with Telenor and other partners to test the use of the powerful 5G mobile networks that allow for much faster data transmission. Ark Dania is the testing ship. MAN, Alfa Laval, DFDS and Telenor discussed and explored the opportunities at a workshop at DFDS House.


5G mobile coverage is well underway ashore, but also at sea where it is not so much about fast data for smartphones. It is rather used a new infrastructure that paves the way for the next generation of digital tools and business models, because we can communicate much faster than today and reduce the latency in transmission time to a few milliseconds. This will enable much closer monitoring of equipment, which in turn enables equipment manufactures to offer better and more circular solutions where the equipment can be upgraded and improved throughout the entire lifetime of the ship.

Workshop at DFDS House

“Telenor Maritime and DFDS have been working closely together for several years and it is natural for us to explore the opportunities in those new technologies and tools together,” says Jakob Steffensen, Head of DFDS’ Innovation and Partnerships department.

“But Telenor and DFDS are not the only companies to benefit from new digital opportunities. Therefore, we had arranged a workshop with MAN, Alfa Laval, DFDS and Telenor to explore and discuss how an effective standardised mobile infrastructure can support the work to improve the technical operation of ships in various areas,” says Jakob.

Augmented reality could ease work and collaboration

At the workshop, which took place at DFDS House today on 21 February, MAN said that a good digital infrastructure may open opportunities for supplementing technical manuals with a new generation of support tools that use Augmented Reality to inform the engineers (Augmented Reality is a tool that can show a virtual picture of the engine and its inner and moving parts). It can make teleconferences for troubleshooting practical as an alternative to sending a specialist to the ship.

Open innovation

“We discussed a lot of other opportunities which will be too much to report about here. I am extremely proud that the new mobile network and the use of it is being tested on Ark Dania, and that we can share our ambitions, thoughts and knowledge as we did today to innovate and improve. This is open innovation which is the best way forward for a more efficient and sustainable shipping,” says Jakob.

Ark Dania in contact with quay

Extreme wind conditions caused contact and damage above the waterline when Ark Dania arrived at Esbjerg. Photo by Peter Therkildsen.


In spite of tug boat support, Ark Dania unfortunately came a bit too close to the quay at arrival in Esbjerg today under extreme wind conditions. As the picture shows, the contact caused some damage to the hull above the waterline.

The damage has now been assessed by the yard and classification society, and the plan is to repair the ship while in port.

“We expect that she will be able to depart on Friday 14 February. Luckily, Fleet Management has been able to charter the freight ferry Misida to replace Ark Dania until Friday. Misida will be leaving Vlaardingen today and be in Immingham for Ark Dania’s scheduled departure tomorrow. This means we will only be losing today’ sailing from Esbjerg to Immingham,” says Kell Robdrup, SVP, BU North Sea South, who has already informed the customers about the delay this will cause the customers scheduled to leave Esbjerg today.

Ark Dania damaged above the waterline when hitting the quay in Esbjerg.

Prototyping wireless data transfer for ships

Jacob Mygind Pedersen has developed a wireless sensor data system for use on ships. It communicates with an on-board device developed by the Smart Data team that collects useful data and then sends it to the team when at the quay.


A new prototype for onboard wireless data transfer has just been installed for testing on Ark Dania, and it has a unique job to do.

Pulling signal cables for large ships is a lot of work and can be costly, and conventional radio data transfer does not work in the radio-hostile environment inside a ship. So how do you make the task of data transfer both simpler and cheaper for our ferries? The answer could very well lie in the combination of long-range radio (LoRa), Internet of Things (IoT) technology and edge computing.

Jacob Mygind Pedersen, Head of Projects & Implementation, Technical Organisation and the Smart Data team have developed the prototype. Jacob says: “This is much more than ‘just’ the world’s first maritime LoRa-based sensor data system; we’re including the ships in the digital strategy. It makes it easy and cost-effective to pull in data from all sorts of systems on board, to visualise these for the crew, send data between systems and log the data for later analysis onshore. We can optimise operations and explore possibilities for automating reporting requirements, hence limiting the growing administrative requirements from our ships.”

The Smart Data team has developed a data logger that connects to the sensor data infrastructure and receives the wireless transmission. A fast and stable internet connection is out of reach for most of a ship’s journey, making direct streaming of data for analysis unfeasible.

Martin Morset, Data Engineer in Smart Data, says: “We have deployed an IoT (Internet of Things) device running edge computing software on Dania, with the installation done by Jacob. The idea is to have a device on board the vessel that can save useful data during voyages and send it wirelessly to a cloud-based storage system when the vessel is at the quay. The idea is that the same piece of software can be reused across multiple vessels and be deployed simultaneously without anyone having to physically board the vessel.”

He adds: “The Smart Data team continuously evaluates and executes optimisation and automation use cases through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the business. By digitising our physical assets, we make it possible to also use our expertise to run optimisation projects on our vessels.”

New superintendent in Technical Organisation

Dear all,

It is a great pleasure to announce, that Allan Kaae Jensen has agreed to move on to new challenges shore side as superintendent in Technical Organisation as of 1 March 2019.

Allan commenced his career in DFDS in 1996 and has a long and distinguished track record with DFDS, building up the true DFDS DNA, living and breathing the DFDS Way. Besides from that he is extremely technical well founded, 41 years old, and a really fun and pleasant gentlemen.

Allan comes from a position on Pearl Seaways as Chief Engineer.

After a thorough introduction and docking of Ark Germania in April, Allan will take over the responsibility for Germania and Dania and be based in Head quarters West (Esbjerg).

Please help me in welcoming Allan to the DFDS Dream Team. I am confident that you will have a long and great cooperation with him.

Best regards / Med venlig hilsen

Thomas Mørk, Vice President Technical Organisation

Ark Dania and Ark Germania reunite in Esbjerg

Happy sibling reunion, when Ark Dania and Ark Germania were berthed side by side in the Port of Esbjerg last week. It was a rare occurrence, since the sisters were last seen together when they went into operation in 2014. Luckily, Ivan Bakken Jepsen, Superintendent, was there to capture the meeting.

Both vessels were built by the now bankrupt shipyard P+S Werften in Stralsund, Germany, and were specially designed after special requirement for the Ark Project. They were built to be part of DFDS’ Ark fleet of five ships. The Ark ships are, according to our contract with the military, available for the transport of military equipment for the Danish and German armed forces.

Our purpose is blossoming

Gothenburg RoRo terminal, photo by Bjørn Wånge.

In December we launched our purpose “We move for all to grow” and ever since, implementations and workshops have taken root in many DFDS locations.

“It’s great to see our purpose germinating in all locations and it is great to see people’s commitment to spreading the word. We have received quite a lot of photos from the events, which we were eager to share with everyone. We hope that the purpose will begin to bloom in all corners of our business, as a vital element of our future employer branding strategy,” says Rikke Gransøe Lange, Head of GBI and member of the purpose committee.


Felixstowe, photo by Mark Woodard

Crown Seaways, photo by Kristian Kristensen

Ark Dania, photo by Per Petersen

Larkhall photo by Robert Murdoch

Anglia Seaways photo by Kim Carlsson


The future at sea is by air: Wireless data transfer technology can pave the way for new digital trends

Civil engineer Jens Andresen of DEVELCO in Aarhus and Jacob Pedersen, Technical Organisation,  on board Ark Dania  where they placed the LoRa transmitters to investigate the opportunities in the LoRa wireless data transmission technology to speed up digitisation of ships and ship operation.


Jacob Mygind Pedersen from Technical Organisation – Projects has spent two days with the Aarhus engineering company DEVELCO on board Ark Dania to find out if a brand-new signal transfer technology can be used on board ships. The potential is vast. Read more about the exciting LoRa technology below. 

By Jacob Mygind Pedersen

LoRa (Long Range Radio) has been developed to transmit the data of the Internet of Things around the smart cities of the future where everything communicates and contributes to large amounts of data (big data). But why not use the technology to transmit sensor data on board and to and from ships – such as  sending emission data directly and continuously to the authorities – localise trailers in the terminals or start and stop pumps and other equipment without the need for expensive cables?

I considered these questions after reading about this technology online. In line with the general DFDS strategy to haul our on-board systems down the information highway in order to analyse and work smarter with our data, the project department moved quickly to implement their ideas. They were spurred on by the low-priced compact devices easily retrofitted on a vast array of systems capable of receiving and transmitting all current types of digital and analogue signals.

The challenge at sea has always been the many tonnes of steel that can block wireless signals. The tests on board Dania indicated that the LoRa signals can travel unobstructed despite the steel barrier. As part of the test, sensor data from the bow thruster room was transmitted to a LoRa gateway on the bridge and despite 0.02 W transmitting power, the data was successfully sent through steel, cargo, air and the windows of the bridge to the gateway.

DFDS are pioneers

Why haven’t we started using this technology a long time ago and why haven’t we purchased devices for installation on frequency converters, lights, GPS, AIS, trailers and other things? Well, the answer is simple: These devices do not exist yet. We are the first to conceive of this technology in a maritime context and if we want to use it, we first must develop the components.

In this way we are once again the proven frontrunners of the digital world and it is up to us to lead the development. We are the only ones who can. We are also more than happy to take the lead in cooperation with our partners but if we want to be at the front, we must run faster than everybody else because no-one will carry us.

The Dania test has shown us the potential of this technology. The entire ship can be covered and neither steel in deck or bulkheads nor the worst noisemakers in the engine room could keep the data from reaching preselected locations onboard. We have the blueprints for devices capable of receiving and transmitting all sorts of signals and our next step is to flesh out the production.