Global carrier Matson has installed Parker Kittiwake’s LinerScan on several of its vessels as part of a range of condition monitoring tools. The payback was immediate, as on the first voyage after installation, the LinerScan system indicated increased wear on the cylinder liners. On investigation, Matson detected damaging levels of cat fines in the system on one of its vessels, identified the cause, and addressed the problem before damage occurred.
The cylinder liner is a crucial part of a ship’s engine. Monitoring wear not only extends its operational life but also prevents unexpected and costly repair bills. The average cost for a replacement liner is over US$150,000.
Matson takes a proactive approach to condition monitoring in order to maintain its fleet efficiently and ensure the safety of its vessels and crew. The company purchased five LinerScan systems in January 2014, with the first installation made on Manukai in March, the second on RJ Pfeiffer in May and the third on Maunalei in August, with the remaining two installations to follow.
The LinerScan system can be used to minimise liner wear, improve maintenance scheduling, decrease sampling and testing costs, optimise lubricant feed rate, and detect the result of the ingress of catalyst fines. Using magnetometry to quantify the iron in used cylinder oil, the LinerScan sensors report changes caused by abrasive wear and even routine inspection, highlighting periods of increased physical or thermal stress.
By monitoring wear levels in real-time, engineers are alerted to developing cylinder liner damage and are able to react quickly to changes, enabling preventative maintenance during the ship’s passage to the next port and helping to prevent expensive downtime.
On RJ Pfieffer’s first voyage following installation of LinerScan, high levels of wear were being reported in the used cylinder oil following a fuel switch from marine gas oil (MGO) to heavy fuel oil (HFO), suggesting the presence of cat fines in the fuel. On inspection, it was discovered that a fuel filter had been incorrectly installed in the main fuel line.
Filters are installed as a precautionary measure in addition to the purification system and in this case Matson had instigated the installation specifically to prevent damage. LinerScan was able to detect the increased level of wear in the cylinders due to cat fines, resulting from the filter not performing correctly, meaning that engineers could identify the issue and evaluate the best way to resolve it. This prevented any damage that would have resulted from this problem remaining undetected.
Offline monitoring such as laboratory analysis of used oil was also part of operational practice on board RJ Pfieffer at the time. However, owing to the time lag between collecting and examining oil samples and the lack of a standardised collection point, this did not pick up the higher levels of cat fines and so did not indicate to the engineers that there could be an issue.
Given that LinerScan is a fully-automated online tool enabling real-time monitoring, it offers considerable benefits compared to offline devices. Dependent upon trade, load, running hours and other factors, constant real-time monitoring is the ultimate technique for safely optimising operational efficiency and managing costs. “There is a clear benefit in knowing what is going on at an exact point in time – not just when the engineer can get to a machine for a routine, scheduled sample and analysis,” said Gene Myers, maintenance and repair manager at Matson. “By monitoring the scrape-down oil for ferrous wear, LinerScan can continuously and automatically provide complete sets of trend data showing levels of wear in each cylinder, enabling immediate corrective action to be taken if abnormal wear levels are indicated.
“This allows the application of corrective measures to avoid damage to the liner, including checking the fuel cleaning system, increasing the feed rate of cylinder lubrication oil, preventative maintenance during the ship’s passage to the next port, or even a route change if necessary.
“The main objective of installing condition monitoring equipment such as LinerScan, and ensuring that proactive onboard monitoring is an integral part of our operational practices, was to achieve a better understanding of the factors influencing wear, as well as monitoring change and seeing wear developing. The LinerScan sensors are very reliable and a good trending tool. By monitoring wear particles, we are alerted to escalating cylinder liner damage and are able to react quickly to changes.” MP