According to the Allianz Safety & Shipping Review 2016, “the continuing weak global economy, depressed commodity prices and an excess of ships are pressurizing costs and raising safety concerns. Machinery damage (36%) is already the most common cause of shipping incidents, and preventative measures are often among the first shipboard expenses to suffer.”
The danger is that these purely short-term cost considerations lead to increased safety risks. Now, slowly but surely, top marine executives are changing their thinking. “We’ve recognized that predictive maintenance on ships improves safety, boosts competitiveness through increased uptime, and ultimately reduces costs,” says Lars Ljoen, Managing Director of Carnival Maritime, the marine service unit for the Costa and AIDA fleets. Carnival Maritime recently opened a global fleet operation center (FOC) in Hamburg, Germany.
A state-of-the-art fleet information hub
Standalone, on-board condition monitoring (CM) systems (that, for example, check bearings and notify crewmembers if action is required) are already widely used. But Costa Groups’ central hub is different. Supported by state-of-the-art technology, it integrates near real-time information from 26 cruise vessels and operates 24/7. Data is sent directly from the vessels to 14 remote specialists for analysis.
So how does it work? An important factor are the sensors that monitor machinery on-board. Signals are wirelessly transmitted to the central onshore facility (or hub) where experts can support decision making with almost instant guidance on the best way to maintain particular machines or components. In this way, future-oriented technology and software enable centralized long-term monitoring and machine efficiency evaluation across entire fleets.
The greatest benefit for extended ship uptimes is predictive monitoring of critical machine conditions. This allows fleet managers and marine engineers to plan and execute remedies of defects with perfect timing—avoiding serious damage and unnecessary dry dock times. Subsequently, maintenance intervals can be extended, breakdowns prevented, and high operational safety ensured, while the service life can be enhanced and repair costs considerably reduced.
Easily understandable results make the difference
As always, the right technology matters. However, people remain an important factor. They must understand that remote technology is not about personal control, but about providing maximum support, efficiency, and safety to vessels. Everybody on-board and off-board has to quickly understand measurement results and draw the right conclusion—not just the chief engineer or the fleet manager. This is why modern marine software converts data into easy-to-understand, color-coded results that clearly indicate the urgency of required actions.
Why wait another ten years?
Considering the numerous benefits, why has the marine industry been so slow to move towards connected CM systems? One reason is that crewmembers may feel like their managers are looking over their shoulders. But another obstacle, especially for owners of smaller vessels, is the added technical complexity of managing such an operation.
Today, cloud-based systems can reduce this complexity and shorten the time to value. Shipowners will quickly identify how one ship saves fuel and transfer this knowledge to the entire fleet. For this reason, many smaller players will choose cloud-based systems and handheld data-gathering equipment. Martin Johannsmann makes a bold prediction: “Within ten years, it’s likely that every major shipowner will be using some kind of global online system via the cloud.”
The route (kit) to future-oriented ship maintenance
At this year’s SMM trade fair in Hamburg, SKF will present its new CM Route Kit, which enables predictive maintenance in applications across the maritime sector. The solution features cloud connectivity and can be used on any kind of vessel or offshore platform. Moreover, it includes all the tools needed to implement an integrated approach to fleet-wide condition-based maintenance based on reliable remote and onboard monitoring. Make an appointment and find out more from September 6-9.