When a ship due for a BWMS retrofit changed its operating schedule, the work had to be done at an outer-port anchorage
Techcross has installed about 1,000 ballast water management systems (BWMSs) on newbuildings and in retrofit projects. Those retrofits ranged in size from 150 m3/hr up to 3,000 m3/hr and the manufacturer’s preference is to fit them during a drydocking period or, if that is not possible, during a voyage.
So when it proposed that a retrofit installation on a 4,800 dwt tanker be carried out during a voyage, it was already an unusual situation. But then the ship’s operating schedule was suddenly changed, making even that impossible.
Instead, the work was conducted in the outer port of Yeosu in South Korea in August 2017, so it became even more important to finish the installation promptly to suit the vessel’s schedule. This change of plan meant that the installers had to overcome the difficulties of an unstable working environment with no allowance given for the change from the original time frame.
Techcross has developed its Electro-Cleen System (ECS) to be simple, with no filter required, since a simplified system is crucial when retrofitting a BWMS on ships with space restrictions. Its task for this project was to fit one of its ECS300B ECS BWMSs, which uses direct electrolysis technology.
As a first step, Techcross carried out an onboard survey using a 3D scanner. Its dedicated retrofitting team finished the installation’s design work within two weeks, based on the survey result. Once the equipment had been manufactured and supplied, Techcross completed its installation in three consecutive stages.
First, without the luxury of a drydock, installation work in the outer port needed a separate tug boat with a crane and a means to transport and lift supplies from the port’s berths to the vessel, which made the task more complicated.
Second, the installers found that the ECS’s total residual oxidant sampling pipe and neutralising-agent dosing pipe had ended up partially blocking the vessel passageway. To deal with that situation, they immediately modified the design drawings and reinstalled the lines in an effort to resolve the inconvenience.
Finally, they made additional modifications to improve the efficiency of installation work by proactively managing their working time flexibly to meet the ship’s operating schedule. For example, in order to reduce the extra work that can only be identified once a job has started, they quickly removed fittings that needed adjusting so that the main welding work could continue.
Only highly specialised suppliers can draw on their own experience and expertise in this way, Techcross said, pointing out that it has engineering designs and performance records of onboard surveys from more than 200 vessels. Its team of engineers and designers has developed a variety of retrofitting programmes that can be optimised to each vessel’s particular installation environment.
Another crucial factor is the supplier’s sustainability. After-sales services will become increasingly important as the number of BWMS deliveries increase. From the perspective of long-term operation, shipowners have to take a closer look at how sustainable the suppliers it has in mind for a job will be in the future.
BWMSs require ongoing inspection and maintenance of equipment and accessories, such as spare parts. On top of that, support will be needed from the supplier, both periodically and irregularly after installation. So if the supplier withdraws from the market for any reason, shipowners that have selected that supplier’s system are very likely to find it difficult to obtain these long-term services.
Because of this, shipowners should pay great attention to how big and important the supplier’s BWMS business is when compared with its other activities and how many global partners it has that can provide immediate services.