Experts at Riviera’s Enhanced turbocharger care from drydock-to-drydock webinar provided insights on how operators can bring financial and operational predictability to the running of their turbochargers
ABB Turbocharging global product manager Irina Lang said drydock-to-drydock servicing faces challenges from unexpected and variable costs, time pressure, difficulty in co-ordinating work and complying with maintenance requirements.
Fixed prices can help flatten costs across an operator’s fleet and lessen a shipmanager’s administrative burden while constant monitoring and maintenance can help increase clarity about the turbocharger’s condition, she said.
Ms Lang added that turbocharger manufacturers should shoulder some risks related to additional part replacements, overtime costs and other elements. Manufacturers must ensure they have a more widespread presence in order to fix labour rates and allow customers to select the shipyard and country of their choice.
Ms Lang said saving additional costs through parts replacement affects all companies. "Smaller companies may find it hard to spare the cash for replacements,” she said, adding that bigger companies with bigger fleets seeking to plan the budget for the complete fleet will benefit from the flat-rate costs.
Currently, 52% of webinar attendees outsource their turbocharger maintenance and 71% complete overhauls while in port or in service.
Wilhelmsen Ship Management vessel manager Andrew Madge said companies running on tighter budgets or running global operations will require these measures far more than a large company with ample resources, quality crews, regional operations and the time and money to perform maintenance.
“You stop the ship and lay it up and there is no cost coming in. With these [subscription pricing] concepts, there is a monthly or annual bill to pay for the care package,” he said.
Mr Madge also noted that turbocharger performance has grown more reliable over time. "There was a history of compressor wheel failures in the 1990s and early 2000s. Fortunately, we do not see them, or we see them very rarely under normal circumstances,” he said.
“The biggest concern I have is being able to track the age and running out of components. If you get to turbocharger servicing in different places around the world with different companies, you are not necessarily getting the full picture of how parts have been interchanged between vessels or between turbochargers.”
On the question of whether turbocharger maintenance is dependent on the type of fuel and gas used, Ms Lang said the general principle is judging turbocharger parts based on their condition during an inspection.
With more alternative fuels entering the market, Mr Madge said he expects “the performance of the turbocharger, the margin for error and the deterioration of performance is going to get less and less wide”.
Both panellists discussed the huge amounts of data transferred from ship to shore and the challenges posed by the process in terms of connectivity, consistency, cyber security and costs.
Ms Lang said it would be beneficial if the applications turbocharger manufacturers come up with do not require constant operational data transmission.
"Looking at vessels already in operation, the automation systems are not yet capable of transmitting data every second to the cloud," she said.
To overcome the lack of connectivity, managers and owners may have to get more familiar with existing systems, Ms Lang said.
"When you are responsible for a big fleet, you have a large variance in automation systems. But it is possible to extract the data locally and send it via email to your head offices or to your suppliers."
When polled, 29% of webinar attendees said their companies have adopted big data and a further 52% said their companies are actively investigating the possibility of doing so.
Mr Madge said introducing big data on a large scale can help OEMs tailor services to their customer’s needs and capturing variations in turbochargers is “invaluable”.
“This can lead to some machine learning and AI intelligence to identify faults and areas for improvement on a ship ownership manager level. We can understand how different captains, different chief engineers are operating their enginerooms and driving the ships can also show areas where there is room for improvement in fuel consumption, and operational reliability. If you operate a large fleet of 20 ships, and you have one ship as a failure, you use can this data to see what was different,” he said.
Shipping’s decarbonisation is driving collaboration and increasing data sharing, and the panellists predicted this trend will grow.
A majority, 61% of webinar attendees said they were open to sharing data but a significant portion – 39% – felt differently.
Cyber security concerns persist with reports of cyber attacks becoming more frequent. In response, ABB said it has launched a new partnership with Kongsberg on a method to extract data automatically from the automation systems into the cloud where suppliers can gain access.
In ABB’s model, data ownership stays with the customer directly and will not be shared with competitors or other companies. Ms Lang said.
"So if we have an agreement with the customer, ABB can use the data but it still stays with the customer."
Ultimately, Ms Lang said the key concerns are finding a fixed cost for turbocharger care and extracting operational data. Mr Madge said going forward new ships coming into the market will integrate issues related to life service cost management and data collection.
"It has its place in the market; I think that place will grow. But currently, there is the challenge for shipmanagers to sell this to the owners as a concept,” he said.
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