Published on 27 Jul 2022
Technical Superintendent – Maintenance Strategy
Smart and proactive vessel maintenance reduces the risk of issues with onboard systems causing downtime. BSM introduces Condition Monitoring and successfully completes the pilot phase.
Published on 27 Jul 2022
Maintaining sea-based equipment and machinery is hard, time-intensive, and costly work, especially repairing broken ones. In the maritime industry, it is still general practice to carry out regular maintenance, so-called preventive or planned maintenance, hoping to catch any defect and attrition in time and avoid having to deal with broken equipment aboard a vessel. But what if there was a way to eliminate failures and related repair costs with early detection of complications and at the same time extend overhaul periods while the equipment is still functioning properly? At Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), experts are looking into how to monitor and predict equipment maintenance by using modern technologies.
Normally technical equipment on vessels is maintained in planned intervals which are issued by the maker (Preventive Maintenance). In contrast, Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) is an evolved process for proper equipment maintenance. The related Condition Monitoring (CM) makes a vessel’s maintenance process more flexible by determining the actual health status and condition of the machinery instead of doing maintenance in fixed predefined intervals.
BSM’s Smart Maintenance (SM) project is coordinated and led by Group Technical Superintendent – Maintenance Strategy, Theodore Ioannou. It has been initiated to increase crew safety, asset reliability and lifetime, reduce OPEX, increase Time Between Overhauls (TBOs) and availability of spare parts. This is done by using state-of-the-art technologies such as vibration analysis, drain oil analysis, smart glasses, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machinery fault detection techniques, maintenance process monitoring tools, but also class notations and collaboration with original equipment manufacturers (OEM).
Ioannou says: “Condition Monitoring helps us to know the health condition of our machinery without the need for opening them up.” It enables BSM to collect data with non-invasive techniques. “And like a good medical doctor, we are able to diagnose a treatment outside the fixed boundaries of a planned maintenance system.”
BSM can better plan maintenance routines using condition monitoring. “We can achieve better spare prices since we will order them in a timely manner,” he explains. “We can perform corrective actions to expand the asset’s life and increase the time between overhauls.”
By applying Condition Monitoring, in particular a vibration device for analysis and measurement, the project team achieved during the pilot phase for four vessels a total cost saving of over USD 90,000 for the ship owners, ending up charging merely USD 2,500 per year and vessel for the service. “This is a huge success,” says the project leader.
On a chemical and oil tanker, managed by BSM, a vibration analysis and measurement device by HAT Analytics was used for the first time as part of the condition monitoring process. For six consecutive months of measurements, the device indicated that the condition of monitored engine room vent fans, boiler FD fan, motors of major pumps and compressors, and main engine auxiliary blower was impeccable. The Technical Superintendent of the vessel, with the owner’s approval, decided to skip the opening and overhaul of this equipment, resulting in USD 35,000 of savings for the client.
In the case of another tanker, the vibration device had detected a problem with the main engine lube oil pump. The Chief Engineer followed up, opened the equipment, confirmed the problem, and managed to overhaul it in time. Ioannou confirms: “If we hadn’t identified the issue in time, it could have resulted in larger damage and higher maintenance costs. Acting timely saved our client USD 8,600.” In a similar case on another ship involving the defect of a fuel oil circulating pump of the main engine, a further USD 2,400 was saved.
At one of BSM’s container ships, a set of blind tests to assess the accuracy and predictability of the vibration device was conducted. “We had identified two problems on the cargo hold fans and the auxiliary engine lube oil purifier, which had already been planned for overhaul,” the project manager explains. Would the vibration device detect these issues as well? “It did. And by doing so – had our crew not already been aware of them – the device would have saved an estimated USD 45,000.”
Remote Maintenance is another crucial factor that will be included in BSM’s maintenance strategy. BSM is creating the conditions for all the necessary infrastructure, e.g. WIFI anywhere onboard and smart glasses, in order to be able to perform overhauls on major equipment and also be able to arrange remote surveys without the need of sending a service engineer from the maker’s side or a surveyor onboard the vessel.
It is planned to roll out CBM techniques and processes to all managed ships whose owners wish to do so, at least 40 in the running year. In addition, the project team is working towards Predictive Monitoring. “Predictive Monitoring gives us the ability to know the remaining useful life of machinery equipment and prepare for maintenance routines, order spare parts timely and at good prices, and reduce downtime and off-hire,” says Ioannou.
For that, BSM cooperates with major engine makers MAN and WinGD, and is currently piloting their monitoring tools on the main engine. Together with MAN and WinGD BSM intends to move towards predictive monitoring of the main engine by jointly creating the necessary processes and analyses. This will include machine learning and rule-based algorithms which require collection and utilisation of big data from permanently installed sensors on the engine. Similar collaborations were initiated with the equipment manufacturers Furuno and Alfa Laval.
“Using CBM as the core of our Maintenance Strategy will allow BSM to move from the present Preventive Maintenance Philosophy to Condition-Based Maintenance, then to Predictive Maintenance and finally to the more advanced type, Reliability Centred Maintenance,” outlines Ioannou.
Break-down Maintenance: There is no maintenance plan beyond complete replacement upon failure, still very much applicable to many components, e.g. navigation lights.
Preventive Maintenance: Otherwise called Planned Maintenance. This calls for structures, systems and components to be opened out for inspection and overhaul at specified time periods, or after a specified number of running hours, in order to ensure that the structure/system/component is in a satisfactory condition for continued operation.
Condition-Based Maintenance: In this case, the need for maintenance is based on the performance or physical state of the structure/system/component, as determined by regular or continuous checks of applicable parameters. Maintenance is only undertaken when conditions have approached or reached the lowest acceptable standard and before serious deterioration, breakdown or failure occurs.
Predictive Maintenance: The core of this type is almost the same as CBM, however it uses more advanced Condition Monitoring analysis, complex algorithms and machine learning techniques to identify acceptability for continued service or the requirement for maintenance. This introduces the possibility of identifying the Remaining Useful Life (RUL) of a component, and based on PMS daily routines, port calls, spare part availability, time to receive spare part, it suggests the most optimum slot to perform the maintenance.
Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM): The RCM philosophy employs all the above techniques in an integrated manner to increase the probability that a machine or component will function in the required manner over its design life cycle with a minimum of maintenance. This means that we could have equipment under Preventive Maintenance, other under Run-to-Failure and other under Condition Based Maintenance for the same vessel.
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Technical Superintendent – Maintenance Strategy
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