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SMM: Technology highlights

Digital solutions to environmental challenges

There are transformative times ahead for the shipping industry, as digitization and increased environmental awareness continue to make waves in the sector. At SMM 2018, over 2,200 exhibitors presented the most pressing issues and showcased their solutions. Here are some selected highlights.

There was a clear focus at this year’s SMM fair in Hamburg. With green technology and digitization taking center stage, many exhibitors presented innovative products that reduce environmental impact. These developments support compliance with environmental regulations, help shipyards build more eco-friendly vessels, and increase the reliability and efficiency of ships.

Emissions monitoring for cleaner shipping

The push to reduce environmental impact will intensify in coming years. Ambitious targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) aim to halve greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. Achieving this calls for innovative technologies. Fortunately, digital tools go hand in hand with environmental solutions. But for this to work, software needs to help users make sense of the masses of data.

Emissions monitoring systems support shipowners in numerous ways. They provide a clear overview of all the ship’s emissions and log the collected information. This facilitates inspections, audits, and compliance, as the shipowner has a complete record of emission levels. But some systems, like SKF BlueMon, come with additional features, such as the ability to take the ship’s location into account. Crewmembers receive a notification when the vessel is approaching a protected region or a maritime boundary. In addition, SKF BlueMon can automatically adjust valves to control emissions in line with regulations applicable to the ship’s current location.

Similarly, there are monitoring solutions that give ship operators an accurate record of the contents of bilge discharges. Such systems can be installed in combination with an oily water separator to prove that the oil content in bilge water complies with MARPOL 73/78 regulations. An example of a bilge water monitoring system is the Turbulo HycaLogger, which was unveiled by SKF Marine at this year’s SMM. This product can be deployed as part of an integrated bilge water treatment system (IBTS) to help prevent oil pollution in the sea.

Stabilizer solutions keep vessels on the level

While stabilizers ensure a comfortable journey aboard passenger vessels, they also increase drag, fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions. One way to reduce these undesirable results is by using retractable fin stabilizers. Until recently, however, it was only possible to deploy the stabilizers fully or not at all. This means that they are often used wastefully. Moreover, the ship operators have to rely on their own experience and judgement to know when to deploy the stabilizers.

At SMM 2018, SKF Marine debuted a software solution to help captains of passenger vessels to use their stabilizers more efficiently, without sacrificing passenger comfort. EcoMode monitors the pitch of the stabilizers to obtain realistic drag data. The software then combines this information with other parameters such as roll and vessel speed to deliver recommendations for stabilizer deployment. This helps ship operators understand the system’s impact on fuel consumption and improves decision making. By deploying fin stabilizers in a way that suits the sea conditions, ship operators can cut their fuel costs while reducing environmental impact.

An eco-friendly oil alternative

Oil is by far the most common marine lubricant. But could there be a viable, more environmentally friendly option? Water lubrication has returned to the spotlight in recent times as it offers a green, economic solution for sterntubes. Water-lubricated systems eliminate the risk of oil contamination, therefore ensuring compliance with environmental protection regulations such as the US EPA’s Vessel General Permit (VGP) rules. These systems can also reduce costs and operational risks. SKF Marine launched its own portfolio of water-lubricated sterntube solutions at SMM 2018, named Simplex BlueRun.

An important platform for shipping

SMM 2018 once again justified its status as one of the most important events in the maritime industry. Exhibitors and visitors alike gained an insight into the future of the sector. Through workshops, networking services, and a careers market, the event promoted knowledge sharing—and provided inspiration for a cleaner maritime future.

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