Shipping companies are increasingly benefitting from condition monitoring, maintenance and sensor networking
Vessel owners are improving their ship maintenance through improved monitoring of onboard system performance, with real-time and packaged data from the main engines, diesel generators, boilers and emissions-abatement technology.
NYK Bulkship (Asia) operations director Capt K K Mukherjee explained some of the main benefits of deep-level sensor networks and condition monitoring during Riviera Maritime Media’s Extending intelligent monitoring of onboard machinery webinar, on 9 September.
He said shipowners and managers should invest in intelligent systems to understand the huge amount of hidden data in a ship. This should involve installing networks of sensors, if these are not already commissioned; centralising onboard data capture and processing, sending information over a secure virtual private network from the ship to the shore-based management office; plus data analytics for trend analysis and real-time monitoring.
“This can lead to data mining during inventory control and various optimisation of the onboard operations in relation to navigation or running machinery,” said Capt Mukherjee.
“You have to have an intention or mission to transform your digital resources and not to waste them,” he said.
Online and remote monitoring can be used for maintenance management, system optimisation, operational advice, reporting and spare parts management of some onboard systems, said Capt Mukherjee. The most common equipment monitored by ship operators are the main engines, diesel generators, boilers, scrubber systems, selective catalytic reaction (SCR) devices, voyage data recorders and vessel navigation aids. Capt Mukherjee said remote monitoring provides owners with early warning of issues and alerts if there are performance problems.
For example, NYK monitors main engine loads and revolutions. It watches fuel oil and cylinder oil consumption, exhaust gases and auxiliary blowers. This Japanese owner then monitors consumption and load sharing of the ship’s diesel generators and voyage information from the bridge.
“Cognitive maintenance is the only way forward. We are having serious problems with getting a complete crew on board”
Capt Mukherjee said the future for condition monitoring and cognitive maintenance will involve virtual reality and digital twins. These will help in repair and maintenance over a ship’s lifecycle and enable owners to identify areas that need action and improvement, he said.
Steel Ships chief executive Dr Ranjan Varghese explained during Riviera’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week why regular onboard system monitoring and deploying a maintenance decision support system were becoming more important as the global coronavirus pandemic limits travel between shore and ships.
“Cognitive maintenance is the only way forward. We are having serious problems with getting a complete crew on board,” Dr Varghese said.
Implementing the cognitive maintenance system is already producing results for Steel Ships. “We have increased availability and maintainability by 15%,” he said. “Failures have reduced by 30% and energy consumption by 6% to 10%. The reduction of spare parts consumption is between 7% to 15%.”
This all leads to operational expenditure reductions through optimisation and intelligence. “The ultimate goal is to keep the lifecycle cost of the vessel as low as possible. At the same time safety is not compromised,” said Dr Varghese. He noted how safety remained the most important element of shipping operations.
Data can be sourced from various sources on ships and used for different purposes, but this data needs to be processed and delivered to the correct people in a timely manner.
“There are tonnes of data coming from the vessel,” continued Dr Varghese, “all kinds of data for different parties, consumers, charterers, agents, owners and shipmanagers.”
He explained that to achieve fleetwide efficiency, all this data must be distilled properly. “It needs to be as easy to understand by the senior managers and the non-technical people as it is by the staff who are technically managing the ships.”
World Maritime University (WMU) associate professor (safety and security) Dimitrios Dalaklis said new technologies were enhancing performance and the condition of ships. These include smart sensors, fleet digitalisation, cloud computing, internet-of-things and digital twins.
When combined, these solutions can contribute towards improved safety, logistics, fuel costs and lower emissions. “Take the concept of a digital twin for example,” Mr Dalaklis explained. “We can now create a theoretical model and manipulate it in real time to make changes that have an almost instantaneous result in the real world.”
This optimises the decision-making process by “using highly accurate data, saving costs and having a huge impact on efficiency, both during the development stage and when the model becomes a reality,” Mr Dalaklis said.
Class society ABS has launched a platform for digital information from ship fleets. ABS My Digital Fleet provides data-driven insights for shipowners to improve fleet efficiency, reduce costs and help manage risks. This web-based platform fuses multiple data sources into a centralised digital system.
Applications within this platform can deliver real-time alerts to owners, enabling managers to see an asset’s performance in terms of regulatory compliance, fuel efficiency, structural and mechanical integrity.
“ABS My Digital Fleet aggregates these data sources into one online environment and derives insights by leveraging emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence,” said ABS chairman president and CEO Christopher Wiernicki.
Höegh Autoliners partnered with MAN Energy Solutions and Kongsberg Digital to optimise engines and maintenance on a fleet of vehicle carriers in September 2020. MAN and Kongsberg cemented a memorandum of understanding (MoU) they signed in October 2019 with a firm agreement to collaborate in developing digitalisation solutions in the maritime industry, with Höegh Autoliners being the initial project.
These partners are validating real-time engine monitoring and digital assistance to optimise performance on a fleet of car carriers on fixed trade routes worldwide.
“The ultimate goal is to keep the lifecycle cost of the vessel as low as possible”
“For us at Höegh Autoliners, this collaboration is an important step towards the utilisation of digital solutions in optimising the running and maintenance of our engines in a safe and effective way,” said head of technical operations Geir Frode Abelsen.
Part of this project involves MAN’s PrimeServ Assist for engine data analysis. Kongsberg Digital is also providing its data infrastructure solution, Vessel Insight, for real-time data transfer.
Hanson Marine is investing in real-time monitoring of machinery on its new aggregate dredger, Hanson Thames. This is under construction by Damen Shipyards in Galati, Romania, and is expected to be delivered in Q1 2021.
Hanson Thames will feature Royston Diesel Power’s electronic fuel management system (EFMS) Enginei, as part of a comprehensive suite of advanced digital technologies.
Enginei uses Coriolis flow meters and sensors to accurately monitor the fuel being consumed by each vessel engine, when tracked against GPS data, voyage details and operational mode. The data is collected, processed, and relayed to bridge- and engineroom-mounted touchscreen monitors to enable the ship’s master to adjust vessel speed and take actions needed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions and equipment maintenance.
Future applications of AR/VR and digital twins
NYK Bulkship (Asia) operations director Capt K K Mukherjee expects developments in augmented and virtual reality and digital twins to enhance fleet management in the following areas: