Coronavirus has accelerated shipping’s drive to adopt condition monitoring and predictive maintenance to minimise downtime and maximise profits
While the consequences of coronavirus, Covid-19, remain open-ended, the pandemic is enforcing the case for condition monitoring of shipboard equipment. Owners and operators are recognising the benefits of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) support in the digital age, according to MacGregor.
Condition-based information backed by responsive specialist support and technical expertise has become increasingly key to effective maintenance planning and maximising operational availability. On top of this, coronavirus-related restrictions have consolidated the appeal of equipment condition monitoring, says MacGregor senior vice president for global services John Carnall.
“In the past, the service organisation footprint and logistics management capabilities required to effectively support ships in operation and maintaining a schedule have perhaps not been fully recognised,” he explains to Maritime Optimisation & Communications. “With the current limitations on travel and provision of onboard support, this has changed and customers are seeing the value of locally based specialists and remote technical expertise in ensuring the right parts are available in the right place at the right time,” says Mr Carnall.
Shipowners, operators and managers are seeing the benefits of OEMs with local specialists supported by engineering centres and technical experts, says MacGregor vice president for digital and business transformation Dennis Mol.
“Customers are recognising the value of condition-based information as a maintenance planning advantage,” he adds. “It provides peace of mind with respect to mission-critical systems and operational continuity and is something we expect will be increasingly required by shipowners and operators to maximise the efficiency and value of expensive assets,” Mr Mol tells MOC.
Condition-based maintenance management is a vital tool for shipping companies in keeping their fleet optimised with minimal downtime.
“As an industry, we are moving towards predictive tools, which will help to eliminate unplanned downtime, ultimately reduce maintenance costs and increase revenue and profitability,” says Mr Mol.
OEMs’ extensive knowledge is being channelled into developing algorithms that can predict when certain equipment requires maintenance based on use and condition, rather than relying on conventional time-based service schedules. MacGregor’s digital advances in this arena include OnWatch Scout, with two merchant and offshore pilots currently in operation and more awaiting installation.
“High quality, accurate, predictive maintenance is possibly one of the most important elements of service provision,” says Mr Mol. “OnWatch Scout is a predictive tool developed to ensure equipment is able to operate more or less continuously,” he says.
OnWatch Scout detects variations in the behaviour of components and predicts if there are anomalies. “We then have the ability to notify the customer and advise them of the preventative steps that need to be taken to avoid component failure,” Mr Mol explains.
“The crew and operation centres engaged in the pilot programmes are very happy with the ease of system use and information being made available, which is providing common visibility of the crane operating information. This, in turn, is supporting effective ship to shore communication and co-ordinated decision making.”
Future development plans include extending the OnWatch Scout capability beyond cargo and load-handling cranes to include hatch covers, deck machinery and other critical equipment and systems.
Making expert knowledge available to customers through simulation-based training is another information-based capability that enhances crew capabilities, operational safety and equipment reliability.
OnWatch Scout provides real-time, condition-based information. “Digital twin services provide a dynamic environment that enables procedure demonstrations and training to take place. The ability for this type of training to be undertaken by crew on board is a planned development of MacGregor’s,” says Mr Mol.
Good maintenance practices positively support business operations, but Mr Carnall emphasises that saving costs does not mean cutting down on maintenance itself. “It means being focused on doing it the right way,” he says.
“OEMs know their equipment better than anyone else,” Mr Carnall continues. “This enables us to more easily assess and determine its condition, ensure parts are not replaced unnecessarily, and to develop tailored, cost-effective plans for repair and renewal. Technical personnel can also make relatively small adjustments to operational parameters that deliver material performance benefits.”
This is important with reported shipping incidents on the rise and an increased level of scrutiny applied to equipment failure-related insurance claims, particularly where genuine parts have not been used or maintenance not carried out.
“In many cases, these incidents could have been avoided through periodic visual inspection, but the prolonged industry downturn and current coronavirus crisis has meant maintenance budgets have been impacted,” says Mr Carnall.
“All equipment, if left unchecked, will gradually deteriorate in performance and efficiency, and ultimately fail. Shipowners and operators know this, and that planned maintenance is more cost-effective because emergency repairs are almost always more expensive.”
It is understandable that longer term cost benefits may not be the highest priority when short-term survival is in question. “But ongoing operational reliability and potential reputational damage must also be considered,” says Mr Carnall.
“When we are able to have an effective dialogue with customers, jointly plan required work and then carry it out as agreed, we are the best at what we do,” he continues.
“With this being increasingly combined with the availability of condition-based information to support effective maintenance planning, we can further enhance the world-class operational support expected of MacGregor, even in the most challenging of times.”
MacGregor has 850 specialists and 60 service centres located in 31 countries worldwide. It has recently expanded support to customers operating in the Americas.
Dennis Mol will be on the panel of Riviera’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week webinar: Digital Twins: How digital twins drive vessel efficiency and voyage performance, Wednesday 13 May, 9.00-9.45 BST.
Digital twins are dynamic digital replicas of machinery, systems and assets that can help to solve operational challenges, predict faults and reduce downtime. Using proven examples, our panel detail how digital modelling can significantly improve vessel efficiency and voyage performance.