Planning and communication are the keys to a successful BWMS installation, panellists at Riviera’s BWMS retrofit installation and operation webinar said -- and don’t forget to plan for crew training
The concluding webinar in the Ballast Water Webinar Week series of Riviera webinars was sponsored by specialised marine environmental provider BioMarine Services and by ballast water treatment system manufacturer Hyde Marine.
BioMarine Services director John Loaiza gave a detailed breakdown of a project to install a ballast water treatment system and prepare for sampling. Communication is the key, he said.
“It is very important to plan in advance and provide constant updates to get everyone involved in the project. Everyone needs to know how to mitigate any delays,” he said.
These project management elements have become especially important during the era of the coronavirus pandemic, which more than three-quarters of webinar attendees surveyed agreed or strongly agreed had delayed the execution of projects from start to end.
Crew training is another important aspect and does not have to be left until the installation is complete. “Start the crew training early – get them involved. They need to understand the maintenance of the system. They will be the ones operating it at sea,” he said.
He offered the following advice: before the commission testing, make sure the ballast water pipes are flushed and the tanks are clean.
Maersk Line project manager Shobhit Agarwal has been the ballast water treatment project manager for the group for the last three years. He said that a project starts “10 to 12 months before the start of the implementation of the project. We need to make sure that all the drawings are class-approved, the specifications required by the shipyards are ready and all the technical clarifications with the shipyard are done,” he said.
The planning should also include the days and time required for superintendents to be on site. One of the first tasks is to assess the condition of the existing ballast water system – are the pumps, gauges, pipework and tanks pressure tested and in good order? The commissioning engineer needs to track paperwork, including customs clearances and alert the commission testing laboratory in good time.
Before installation, any prefabricated parts should be accompanied with their certification: material, welding, pressure testing and non destructive testing certification. In a survey, nearly everyone (98%) agreed that prefabrication of piping and associated foundation materials for the BWTS is critical to a timely and efficient retrofit.
When the vessel arrives in the shipyard, the supervisor plays a critical role in preventing delays and ensuring the timeline is meet. Mr Agarwal advised that some items can be forgotten.
“Take into account the commissioning time for the ballast water treatment system – we have noticed this is not always taken into consideration while planning the job. It differs from maker to maker and a suitable time should be made available for commissioning, training crew and sufficient time to take the sample,” he said.
Surprisingly, engaging the crew from design to commissioning the ballast water treatment was treated with some ambivalence. In a survey, only 29% strongly agreed with this approach. There was agreement from 40% of those surveyed but 17% felt it was of middling importance and 14% of those surveyed felt it had little importance.
Hyde Marine sales engineer Tom Hazen provided some interesting details on the state-of-play for owners and operators when it came to choosing a ballast water treatment system. It is estimated that around 10,000 vessels will require a ballast water treatment retrofit installation.
Although IMO has approved nearly 80 systems, Mr Hazen noted that only 37 were currently US Coast Guard type-approved.
“We can actually reduce that list even further,” said Mr Hazen, “It’s a little hard to be exact, but about 20 to 25 products are type approved in accordance with the modified IMO type-approval guidelines.”
Therefore, is there the capacity of the pool of type-approved system manufacturers to provide the systems required, given that 12 months is regarded as the minimum time required to commence the planning and implementation of a retrofit?
“It is fair to say that not one of us (manufacturer) is going to be capable of handling that huge demand alone,” he said. “A quick turnaround may not be possible due to equipment availability, which could result in owners needing to either take their business elsewhere or ultimately accepting a system that may not be configured precisely for the vessel,” warned Mr Hazen.
Having a BWTS configured specifically to the vessel is a top priority. According to a survey, 67% said it was of absolute importance and 31% agreed it was very important to have the ballast water treatment system configured to the vessel.
Mr Argawal said, “It is very, very critical to have the system dedicated to the vessel requirements. And it has to be a perfect match to ensure not only the successful installation, but also smooth operation during the life of the vessel.”
Another question was how long does it take to gain the results from the sampling of the ballast water? Mr Loaiza said that it could take two to three days to have the results from a laboratory. As noted in the previous ballast water week webinar on compliance monitoring, there are also indicative tools which give an indication if the system is working.
In the concluding statements, Mr Hazen asked owners and operators to prepare their ballast water treatment plans early to give manufacturers sufficient time to meet deadlines. Mr Argwal noted that experience of installations and training was improving and wished that things would return to a pre-Covid-19 normality. Mr Loaiza echoed these sentiments and reiterated that planning and communication is key to successful ballast water treatment retrofit installations.
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From left to right: BioMarine Services’ director, John Loaiza, Maersk Line’s project manager, Shobhit Agarwal, Hyde Marine’s sales engineer, Tom Hazen (Image: Riviera)