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Monitoring technology gains ground

January 30th 2018
Remote and condition monitoring are gaining ground with shipowners starting to take their first steps into these areas

Sirius Shipping has announced that it is deploying condition monitoring systems on its fleet of 10 tankers to prevent machinery failures and to reduce maintenance costs. It has teamed up with SKF to install sensors on its oil and chemical carriers to remotely monitor machinery performance.

Sensors have been deployed on ships to detect machinery operating parameters and transmit signals to SKF’s certified remote diagnostic centre in Hamburg, Germany, where specialists can detect and report machinery deviations to the Sweden-headquartered tanker owner.

Sirius technical superintendent Stefan Johansson explained that information from these sensors and reports enable his company to prepare maintenance before there are machinery failures that would lead to an unscheduled stoppage and voyage delays.

“It is very costly if something happens, so we want to prevent the risks as much as we can,” he said. On average, a typical shipyard stoppage can take around 6-7 days for routine maintenance, but if there is a major breakdown, repairs can take several months, which Mr Johansson is keen to avoid.

A recurring challenge facing Sirius’ maintenance department is to increase the reliability of critical rotating equipment on board. Monitoring the reduction gearbox, which drives the propeller shaft, and the generator, which is also driven by the reduction gearbox, increases the safety and reliability of the system.

Sirius is installing online status monitoring with measurement sensors on selected machine components to increase control of rotating equipment. So far it has installed SKF’s IMx-8 system on tankers Nimbus and Marinus. It intends to install IMx-8 aboard Neptunus and Scorpius later this year.

The fleet of 10 tankers transports oil and chemicals to ports in northern Europe, particularly Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Sirius has ordered two chemical tanker newbuildings from AVIC Dingheng shipyard in China and automation systems that will link the power management systems and the cargo systems for these ships from Høglund.

Leading offshore vessel operator Bourbon has also taken a first leap into fleet digitalisation through a strategic partnership with classification society Bureau Veritas. With the help of Kongsberg Maritime and Airbus subsidiary Apsys, Bourbon will test digital technology for remote monitoring of offshore support vessels.

Bureau Veritas and Bourbon will jointly develop and deploy automation, real-time monitoring applications and developing digital technologies, while mitigating cyber risks. But first, they will test some of these smart-ship technologies for verification of dynamic positioning (DP) operations in real-time.

A pilot has been implemented on Bourbon Explorer 508, which is operating in Trinidad waters. This monitoring technology was developed by Kongsberg Maritime, which is already a strategic partner of Bourbon and is certified by Bureau Veritas.

It collects data from the DP system that can be used on board and by onshore support teams to improve DP operations. Bourbon expects this to improve safety and reduce fuel and DP maintenance costs.

Apsys is helping the partners to identify and mitigate cyber security risks linked to data collection and communication between Bourbon’s vessels and onshore infrastructure. It will also help Bureau Veritas create certification and class notations covering cyber security.