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Secure at sea

Machine monitoring looks after the fleet

A breakdown at sea can quickly become very costly due to service disruption, repairs, and downtime. This is the reason many ship operators use condition monitoring (CM) to spot potential issues before they become a real problem. SKF worked with a shipping company to tailor an effective CM solution that offers peace of mind for the future.

Sometimes defects are not recognized until it is too late, and the consequences can be severe. Condition monitoring has already proved itself in many industries as an effective way to identify issues and prevent machinery downtime. But maintaining control of a ship’s condition and analyzing the data can be complex. Fortunately, new technology makes CM at sea easier.

For example, CM systems can be used to observe the health of a gearbox by examining vibration data at critical components. Data is stored in the cloud, where it can be accessed by CM experts in an onshore center. Analysts then identify trends and provide onboard service technicians with recommendations on how to act. As a result, shipping companies can continue to focus on their core business knowing they are protected against unexpected breakdowns.


Making maintenance more efficient

SKF has released a new product, the Multilog Online System IMx-8, designed to be installed closer to the application that requires observation. Its compact design means it can be installed in tight spaces – making it perfect for components such as thrusters and reduction gearboxes. It is also easy to set up due to enhanced usability. An intuitive app enables service engineers and crew to view data instantly. Even though the system is mainly targeted at the marine industry, many other sectors can benefit from it, too.

In a recent project, SKF installed these new CM systems for a shipping customer. Currently, they are installed in the gearboxes on two ships of the company’s fleet, where they monitor bearing and gear mesh wear. The systems are also used in the generator, helping the customer to identify any unbalance and misalignment problems between the generator and shaft.

As part of the service, raw data from the machinery is sent to the cloud and analyzed at SKF’s Remote Diagnostics Centre (RDC). The experts there interpret the data to spot any changes in asset condition and send the customer event reports. These include clear and detailed recommendations on the actions the crew need to perform. In addition to preventing against major breakdowns, this also helps the customer to plan their maintenance more efficiently. With a transparent overview of the vessel’s health, the company can switch from planned maintenance to condition-based maintenance, minimizing the required frequency of repairs and ensuring the availability of spare parts.

 Saving ship operators time and money for years to come

This project is a prime example of how cloud-based monitoring systems are becoming more prominent in the marine industry. Fundamentally, the SKF Multilog Online System IMx-8 increases ship reliability and uptime. But it is most effective when used in combination with the RDC service. Since implementing the solution, the shipping customer benefits from the experience and expertise of SKF analysts and has made significant cost savings. This advanced product, alongside the remote diagnostics service, offers a solution that can save ship operators considerable time and cut costs for years to come.


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