Key factors driving turbocharger servicing include predictive maintenance and combating challenges such as poor fuel quality
Predictive maintenance and reducing complexity and cost are some of the main trends driving forward turbocharger repairs.
Innovative methods for managing wear and tear were unveiled by panellists at the Turbochargers Service & Repair Forum webinar, part of Riviera Maritime Media’s ongoing multi-week series of webinars.
KBB has launched the Knowledge 2 Swap programme, which negates the need for taking the vessel out of service to carry out maintenance. Once a new part is chosen from KBB’s hub, it is transported to the vessel and exchanged with the old unit which is then returned to KBB.
KBB key account manager Florian Hermann said “This is the answer to not letting risks and costs go through the roof. Costs and conditions are fixed. It is possible to send out the part within two hours; within 48 hours it will be at the vessel.”
The importance of predictive maintenance was underlined. PT Ship Management managing director Patrick Toll said “Our aim is to reduce complexity and identify upcoming issues. Predictive maintenance is a huge theme.”
Simplex-Turbulo company director James Hogg said “There are extraordinary extra costs with unplanned failures. Being able to look into the future and avoid extra costs must be an essential part [of servicing turbochargers].”
He added that lubricants must be examined very carefully as 65% of all machinery failures are related to incorrect oil specification, oil age/total base number, liquid contamination and particle contamination.
It is also important to check bearings. A cost-effective solution is to use a hand-held acoustic bearing checker. Mr Hogg said “As long as you take readings down you can start to do trend analysis, which will give you very good early warnings.”
Using acoustic bearing checkers has been especially effective on larger container vessels, where slow steaming has caused problems with auxiliary turbochargers.
Indeed, the panel flagged up problems associated with slow steaming. Tufton Asset Management fleet efficiency and project manager Paul Morgan said “It is common knowledge that slow steaming causes problems like carbonisation of the engine, which affects turbochargers. Slow steaming in the short term is ok, but if it is long-term, a lot of changes need to be made within engine maintenance.”
Issues can include increased wear and clogging up the turbocharger due to the increase in particles. “There could be a particle counter on the lube oil system to get a permanent read out of particles to give you a warning,” Mr Hogg suggested.
Panellists also highlighted poor fuel quality as having an impact on turbocharger functionality.
Mr Morgan noted that poor quality fuel had led to problems with carbonisation, with the impact on turbochargers being on the “front line”.
Mr Hermann said “We have seen shifts in fuel quality.” He said bad quality HFO could lead to radial turbochargers showing the kind of wear after only 1,000 hours of use more often seen at the standard 12,000-hour inspection intervals.
Future developments could progress to mitigate the impact of poor-quality fuels. Mr Hogg said “It is possible to measure the balance of fuels. Equipment that will measure sulphur levels can be developed to measure other chemical mixtures and if we knew what we were looking for, it would be possible to warn crew when they have a particularly difficult fuel.”
In conclusion, panellists highlighted their most important focus. Mr Toll emphasised “I believe the focus should be to make it as simple as possible for the crew and not overrun them with complex measurements.”
While Mr Morgan summed up “What is key to the people who run the ships is reliability and cost – everything comes down to that and it is good to see that companies are working towards that to help the shipowner.”