Alfa Laval, one of the market leaders in the exhaust gas scrubber market, is in the process of retrofitting 20 of Safe Bulkers’ dry bulk carriers with its PureSOx systems.
The order, signed originally in 2018, comprises retrofits to 12 post-panamax, six Kamsarmax and two Capesize vessels, with deliveries running until March 2020. The retrofits, all being undertaken at Cosco shipyards in China, involve installation of open-loop systems connected to the main engine and three auxiliary engines.
“Good communications with the owner and yard ensured that these projects have been running smoothly and any issues were resolved quickly,” says Steven Pieters, sales director, exhaust gas cleaning systems. “Throughout the process, we have partnered closely with the yards, providing support through locally based project managers with strong backing from our PureSOx product centre in Nijmegen.”
With the majority of the PureSOx retrofits now completed, Safe Bulkers is looking at ways of securing long-term, trouble-free operation. With this aim in mind, it has recently signed a customised service agreement. This will, for example, use data analysis to optimise scrubber performance and predict maintenance needs, while ensuring availability of genuine Alfa Laval spare parts, service kits and sensor calibration.
Safe Bulkers’ crew members and superintendents will be trained at the recently opened Alfa Laval PureSOx Training Centre in Shanghai, China, where a full-size PureSOx system has been installed.
In addition, Safe Bulkers will use the PureSOx Connect software platform for compliance and performance monitoring, generating automatic reports for handing over to local authorities. In addition, scrubber data will be analysed with advanced algorithms, enabling health monitoring, root-cause identification and remote service support when needed.
Alfa Laval refers to recent reports of major delays at some retrofit yards as the reason why having good cooperation between shipowner, shipyard, engineering company and scrubber supplier is so important. The company points out it now has local project managers in China, Japan and Korea, where the majority of its retrofits take place.
“By being close to the shipyards, we can easily overcome issues without delay. We also have site support engineers available for each project, who support the shipyard to make sure both installation and commissioning go as smoothly as possible,” comments Pieters.
Alfa Laval has further responded to customer concerns at the fact that over the past year some ports have banned open-loop scrubber discharge. “To ensure our customers have a future-proof scrubber system, we have introduced an update of our patented Water Cleaning System,” says Pieters.
“Our open-loop systems are all offered as hybrid-ready, meaning the open-loop equipment we deliver is ready for upgrade, and our customers receive information about the sizing of closed-loop components, to prepare the proper space on board if needed. We have now seen the first hybrid upgrades, where customers had chosen first to install an open-loop system. These systems have now been upgraded with hybrid equipment, giving customers the flexibility to sail in either open-loop or closed-loop modes.”
In 2019, Alfa Laval says it saw the market return to a ‘wait-and-see’ approach, after a big wave of scrubber orders in 2018.
Pieters suggests: “If shipowners were not able to install a scrubber before the January 2020 deadline, we expect that they decided to wait to see how the fuel prices would develop and how the scrubbers would perform, before investing again. Prices for compliant fuels have increased since 1 January, increasing the price difference with HFO. This makes the business case for scrubbers more compelling.”