The perfect fit

Using laser measurement for precise retrofitting

Updated regulations are helping the maritime industry to clean up its act and reduce its impact on the environment. However, they sometimes require entire fleets to be retrofitted. Laser measurement and 3D scanning technology help make this process more efficient and more accurate.

In line with the Ballast Water Management Convention, it will be mandatory for all ships around the world to have a type-approved ballast water management system (BWMS) installed by 2024—this has been mandatory for all newly built vessels since 2017. While this will help prevent the spread of invasive marine species, it will have sweeping repercussions for the entire maritime industry as shipowners have to purchase and implement BWMSs across their entire fleet. Not only that, but many shipowners are currently retrofitting their fleets with scrubbers to clean vessel exhaust gases and achieve compliance with the upcoming global sulfur cap.

A surge in retrofitting expected

These changes in global regulations have put significant pressure on shipowners and operators to act. In the coming months and years leading up to the implementation deadlines, there will be a sharp increase in retrofitting activity. According to leading classification society DNV GL, “Compliance with regulations regarding ballast water management will be one of the biggest challenges for the shipping industry in the near future.” Due to the complexity of retrofitting a BWMS, shipowners and operators should look to suppliers that offer specialist  services—ensuring that the system is installed safely and maintained properly throughout its lifecycle.

Preparing for precise installation

Laser measurement is one of a number of services that help ensure correct installation for retrofits. If the shipowner or operator has already chosen a BWMS or a scrubber, a third party can conduct a dimensional inspection to check that the system matches the customer’s 3D model with the correct dimensions and tolerance. This helps prevent any issues and delays to the installation which would have a significant impact on costs.

But laser measurement and 3D scanning are also very useful in cases where the shipowner has not yet decided on the system they are going to retrofit. Using handheld devices, a supplier can perform a 3D scan of the engine room while the vessel is docked. To create a full picture of all the objects in the area, including piping, the service engineer needs to scan in different positions, walk around the whole area, and position reference points. The engineers that carry out this service must be well trained and have the expertise to know exactly how to reposition the scanning equipment. Having done that, the engineer then combines the separate scans into a point cloud model that provides a full visualization of the engine room.

“Compliance with regulations regarding ballast water management will be one of the biggest challenges for the shipping industry in the near future.”

Source: DNV GL

Making the right decisions in uncertain times

With a detailed point cloud model, shipowners and operators have a comprehensive view of the space in which their BWMS or scrubber will be installed. This helps them form a clearer idea of how the system will integrate into the vessel. For example, they are able to see any obstructions and how much space will be available for engineers to carry out maintenance in the future. Services like these help shipowners navigate the challenges brought by upcoming regulatory changes and reduce the risk of costly installation issues down the line.

SKF Marine is an example of a supplier that will provide a special service for BWMS retrofitting. The company has already completed a number of laser measurement assignments on behalf of other service providers. In addition, it will also offer its own type-approved ballast water treatment system with a market launch set for the end of 2019. By offering 3D scanning and BWMS implementation from a single source, SKF Marine will help its customers reduce the number of providers involved in the project, which streamlines the process.

Want to keep up with the latest developments concerning ballast water management? Subscribe to Engineering at Sea, where we will be covering technical and regulatory topics throughout 2019.

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