KBB’s K2S programme provides ship owners with the ability to swap out special cartridges, minimising out-of-service time and assuring the most up-to-date components
A turbocharger breakdown resulting in vessel downtime for a ship owner and operator can be costly, particularly if it requires a complete overhaul and re-balancing in a workshop. Even when parts can be replaced on board, the right components and the engineering capability need to be available, otherwise owners can expect a longer-than-anticipated time to get a turbocharger back into service. Ship operators that use re-engineered or third-party parts can risk invalidating their equipment warranty.
Addressing these ship-owner concerns, Germany’s Kompressorenbau Bannewitz GmbH (KBB) launched the Knowledge 2 Swap (K2S) programme last year to make genuine OEM turbocharger parts available to ship operators quickly. Through the programme, the German turbocharger manufacturer and its service partners deliver specially designed cartridges that can be installed quickly by onboard crew. This helps ship owners manage the risk of planned and emergency maintenance, eliminating concerns about vessel out-of-service time normally associated with installing new components or a new turbocharger.
Working with its service partners, KBB designed K2S following a comprehensive analysis of its inventory and installed base to understand the flow of parts and the capacity for overhauling and reconditioning. This analysis allowed KBB and its service partners to design a cartridge programme that covers the most popular KBB turbocharger models, while offering a level of flexibility in the components included.
A strong impetus for the creation of K2S has been KBB’s rapid growth over the past decade, both in the number of new units on the market and the demand on its service functions. KBB reports that its products now cover 1,100 engine types and applications — almost twice as many as the 600 in 2013. This has led to a 20.5% increase in the number of different stock parts the company needs.
The growth has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in the complexity of KBB’s service operation and the challenge of making the right parts available to customers at the right time. The review that accompanied the development of K2S will ensure that KBB’s service programme can accommodate recent and future growth.
Since KBB and its service partners are responsible for all warranties and liabilities, a strong cooperation is assured and a joint, condition-based service programme can be implemented – optimising scheduled maintenance and emergency response, enabling good value repairs and competitive total cost of ownership, as well as ensuring that units in service are of the newest standard.
The K2S service is currently available for the most widely used specifications of KBB’s HPR series of turbochargers – single-stage, high-pressure turbochargers for medium-speed engines with a power output of 500-3,000 kW, as well as the ST series for engines up to 6,000 kW. These turbochargers are used on Wärtsilä, Hyundai Himsen, Yanmar and Caterpillar MaK engines.
The cartridge is a ‘plug and play’ solution as there is no need for the vessel to be drydocked or the engine or turbocharger brought ashore for cleaning and balancing. It includes the core components of the turbocharger, including the bearing housing, the rotor and all bearing systems parts. The nozzle ring and diffuser are not typically included, but can be on request.
An extended cartridge option with diffuser and complete compressor casing can also be used for an adjustment-free installation. This further simplifies the installation for crew, who only need to check the gap on the turbine side after switching the units. The extended cartridge provides further safety against damage to the aluminium alloy compressor impeller.
Customers are initially charged the full price of the swap unit and a 30% deposit is refunded if the old unit is returned within 60 days. The swap units include new or reconditioned parts protected under a two-year guarantee.
The cartridges can be shipped as airfreight to almost anywhere in the world within two days. After receiving the new unit for installation, the ship operator can put the old unit in the box and send it back.
Designing the programme
Last year, KBB launched K2S with turbocharger service specialists PJ Diesel Engineering in Denmark and Tru-Marine Pte Ltd in Singapore. Both companies have extensive experience with swap programmes and are certified and approved to match KBB data with the demands of their own customers in order to prepare the appropriate swap units.
When announcing her company’s cooperation with KBB in March 2020, PJ Diesel Engineering chief executive Anne-Mette Elsborg called the programme a “groundbreaking and important step that ensures that ship owners and operators [have the] flexibility and high quality that KBB and PJ Diesel Engineering is known for.”
Service partners provide the swap unit from stock or create it, as well as overhaul the replaced unit in their workshops and (if agreed) cover transport of the units. Because of their different regional coverage and customer bases, the service partners allow KBB to cover a wide range of units and to scale the service.
KBB envisions expanding the service to different KBB turbocharger models and to more customers or in-service units as the installed base grows.
TORM slashes turbocharger breakdowns
Danish ship owner TORM has used an exchange programme covering four-stroke engine turbochargers across its fleet of around 80 product tankers for more than five years. It has also established a 100% planned maintenance programme with PJ Diesel Engineering covering its radial turbochargers.
According to TORM technical division head Jesper Jensen, TORM has reduced the number of turbocharger breakdowns by 95% over the past five years. The introduction of full planned maintenance has meant that TORM is no longer dependent on shore-based repairs for its radial turbochargers, nearly eliminating the costly downtime associated with these repairs.
“The collaboration between TORM and PJ Diesel Engineering really showed us the benefit of skills and experience as well as the importance of 24/7 support, access and availability based on fixed prices,” said Mr Jensen.
While ship operators gain the advantages of greater predictability of servicing, faster delivery and installation times and reduced service and lifecycle costs, there are other benefits.
One of these is having exactly the right, up-to-date parts to fit their application. While buying new components guarantees the reliability of the part in isolation, often parts can change specification. For example, the newest components can include security updates that are missing on earlier versions. Relying on guidance from engine manufacturers will ensure the part fits, but not necessarily that it is the latest version. By passing liability to KBB and its service partners, customers have the assurance that whenever they replace a swap cartridge it will feature the very latest component versions.
Ship owners looking to minimise CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chain benefit, too. Using swap cartridges that include reconditioned and overhauled components reduces the environmental impact of your business by minimising the manufacturing of new parts. By making best use of its pool of parts, KBB’s K2S programme offers a service solution that follows the ideas of circular and sharing economies, based on the principle of ‘waste less, lose less’. This makes K2S a valuable addition to your company’s environmental, social and governance agenda.