Over the past year ABB Turbocharging has pioneered new service concepts to simplify and improve turbocharger maintenance
In a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, what is the best way for turbocharger suppliers to help shipowners? For ABB, the answer has been to focus on bringing predictability, peace of mind, simplicity and clarity to turbocharger operations. Two improvements to its service offering highlight those efforts.
In June, ABB Turbocharging introduced an innovative, holistic service package that offers shipowners financial predictability and peace of mind, while reducing complexity and enabling greater insight into equipment health. Turbo MarineCare offers a turnkey solution to maintenance at a fixed price, providing continuous cover from drydock to drydock. Designed for customers with turbochargers for two-stroke engines, the plan covers standard overhaul parts, wear and tear components, unplanned events (including unexpected repairs), labour, waiting and overtime, and intermediate inspection.
Shipowners are traditionally covered by a limited warranty only in the first few years of a new vessel’s life. Turbo MarineCare can be applied from new or at any stage of the life of the vessel or turbocharger, subject to access to its service history and operating data. By offering comprehensive cover, the service brings the peace of mind afforded by big fleet service agreements within reach of all shipowners.
“In challenging markets, it is even more important for companies to reduce and simplify day-to-day costs”
“In challenging markets, it is even more important for companies to reduce and simplify day-to-day costs,” says ABB Turbocharging head of service Roland Schwarz. “Turbo MarineCare allows owners and operators to flatten the cost of turbocharger care over the span of an overhaul period, making their outgoings fully predictable while safeguarding access to original parts, the latest technologies and authorised service teams.”
Turbo MarineCare allows operators to dramatically simplify maintenance regimes. Unanticipated replacement of parts and repairs during drydocks can cause delays, create an administrative burden and add cost. Under the new service agreement, ABB takes on these risks, rather than the shipowner or operator. ABB identifies which parts and services will be required at overhauls and takes responsibility for shipping of parts ahead of drydocking and carrying out the service.
Monitoring of operational turbocharger data is a precondition of Turbo MarineCare. This allows ABB to provide a complete health assessment of rotating components, as well as enabling early detection of abnormal data trends that can help to avoid potential turbocharger faults.
“From the moment customers sign up to Turbo MarineCare, the financial risk and worry of the extra cost associated with turbocharger service are removed from themselves and transferred to ABB,” comments Mr Schwarz. “This will create peace of mind, eliminate unexpected expenditures and reduce bureaucracy in their daily job.”
Embracing Lean Six Sigma
Underpinning ABB’s service offering is a global network of service stations. Here too the company has changed operations to make its turnaround of spare parts even faster. The company’s Singapore service station has embraced the Lean Six Sigma methodology of business improvement, leading to the introduction of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. It has the potential to save huge amounts of time for engineers and service teams. Customers are also set to reap the rewards.
Lean Six Sigma is a continuous improvement methodology based around discipline, statistics and data measurement to help make operational processes as efficient as possible. In this instance, ABB Turbocharging used Six Sigma to work out how to change the way parts are tracked throughout the production line, making it a lot easier to manage workflow.
Spare parts availability is core to ABB’s service business. Turbocharger customers need a fast turnaround on parts to keep their engines running in optimal condition, and that means ABB needs to keep on top of its ever-changing inventory. This is easier said than done, with materials and parts currently found in 11 different locations. There are over 300 pallets in a workshop, and the manual recording and tracking of parts means it can take longer for engineers to locate what they’re looking for. Using the previous system, it could take up to 30 minutes for employees to track down specific parts. The new process has slashed this to around two seconds.
The updated digital operations process revolves around RFID and barcode technology. When jobs arrive at ABB Turbocharging in Singapore, they can be instantly tagged to a specific location. During operations and as they move throughout a warehouse and assembly line, ABB engineers can quickly scan the part using a handheld scanner and assign its latest location. This offers the ability to see exactly where a part is in a warehouse or on an assembly line, in real time, increasing efficiency and making it possible to optimise storage.
Done manually, it’s necessary to carry out a full count of parts, with engineers needing to take specific care to update information throughout a part’s journey, whether it has just arrived at the warehouse, it’s being held or worked on in a specific area, or it’s already been completed and is pending delivery. This all takes time, and it’s difficult to know where parts are being stored and how long they’ll be held for.
The Singapore service team spent three months evaluating the best technology and solutions, before testing and implementing a trial run. The digitalised operation process was officially rolled out at the start of 2019, offering the potential to save 450 man-hours per year.
Mobile service app
“We are constantly developing our service offerings to tailor them to our customer’s expectations and create additional long-term customer value,” says ABB Turbocharging head of global service product management Thorsten Bosse. “For the shipping industry we have made several offerings available both for two- and four-stroke engine applications, with different value propositions depending on the specific customer segment.”
For four-stroke applications, for example, ABB is in the process of releasing the newly designed MXP turbocharger dedicated to marine auxiliary engines. It has been designed for self-maintenance. The crew on board the vessel can perform the turbocharger service using a mobile app, which provides specific instructions for parts replacements and the related service work to be done. It is also planned that spare part ordering can be initiated directly from the app.
Performance optimisation is also key in many application areas, especially with respect to fuel efficiency. ABB is constantly adding to its portfolio of upgrade solutions. It has recently introduced a new dedicated upgrade solution for marine applications of its TPL-C turbocharger family that will enable ship operators to optimise their performance at part load. A similar upgrade is being developed for the forthcoming TPL-A.
A recent example of the value of ABB’s service offering was a turbocharger upgrade on a fast ferry application featuring TPL65 turbochargers. The exchange and re-specification of the turbocharger cartridge enabled a part-load optimisation with up to 5 g/kWh fuel savings. Since emission-critical components were exchanged, the upgrade required a full set of onboard NOx measurements with the corresponding class society being present. The certification process was fully managed and conducted by ABB.