Technological advances in sensors, interfacing, cloud computing and data analysis are giving new dimension to the scope and application of condition-based maintenance (CBM).
Although the industry is still predominantly reliant on a time-based, prescriptive approach to maintenance of ship’s machinery and propulsion equipment, there are a number of factors challenging the long-held norm.
The increasing complexity of shipboard systems, heightened expectations and competitive needs as to ship and plant availability and efficiency, and the influence of the data revolution on vessel operations, favour a properly structured CBM regime. It will not replace all planned maintenance, but it will eliminate that which has no practical value, reducing downtime, inspection and unnecessary servicing work.
Levels of uptake of CBM in the coming years will also be spurred by the strategies and offerings of original equipment manufacturers(OEMs), for whom service and support today forms a major, and growing, source of revenue and business in its own right.
Whereas condition monitoring (CM) constitutes the technology platform, CBM is a process and dedicated maintenance strategy. By implementing CBM, emerging problems and potential damage can be identified at an early stage, allowing corrective action and maintenance to be planned flexibly and cost-effectively. Class-approved CM, moreover, can reduce the amount of time that equipment or the ship is out of service for survey.
An increasing number of OEMs are integrating means of CM into new products, although prominent marine engine designers and manufacturers have provided a data gathering basis in their hardware for some years. As an example, all MAN Diesel & Turbo engines delivered since 2000 have integrated data interfaces, which can be upgraded to complete local systems for engine monitoring under the proprietary CoCoS EDS system. If online access is facilitated via the data interface, engine and turbocharging operating data and additional information can be made available to service technicians ashore for analysis.
Data analytics and the adoption of ‘smart’ sensors are creating new possibilities for more cost-effective, safer and warranted maintenance. These sensors have the capacity to handle large amounts of data, streamlining the information that can be passed on for review and analysis. Critical components can be monitored more closely, with data transferred to shore using fast, reliable connections.
Taking the concept a stage further can lead to a predictive maintenance structure, although decision-making must be founded on reliable and thorough data acquisition and data management. The latter is in turn contingent on the capability to collect, handle and analyse very large amounts of data.
The advocates of change argue that a move from scheduled, rule-based maintenance to a data-driven, risk-based approach can lead to more accurate and timely maintenance, resulting in lower costs, greater availability of ship systems, and increased safety.
MAN Diesel & Turbo’s after-sales business PrimeServ remotely monitors engines and turbomachinery worldwide from its German control centres in Augsburg and Oberhausen and is working towards fully automated evaluation of data. Stefan Eefting, head of PrimeServ Diesel in Augsburg, suggests that automated monitoring could be standard within the next five to 10 years. “CBM, where maintenance is no longer scheduled at fixed intervals but provided according to the actual condition of a unit, will be one of the major steps in development,” he said.
In the view of ClassNK: “Remote machinery monitoring, condition-based maintenance, data analytics and preventive maintenance can significantly improve and optimise numerous functions in operations and ship management, ensuring safety and reducing lifecycle costs of onboard machinery.” As a response to the demand for systems that monitor and interpret the condition of ships’ machinery and manage maintenance to keep costs down, the society has released a new and expanding suite of software tools that encapsulate the drive towards digital lifecycle management. The CMAXS series is the outcome of joint R&D carried out by ClassNK, Diesel United, IMC Co, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (MES), and MES Technoservice Co.
In one of the latest applications, dating from June, the CMAXS LC-A machinery CM and automatic diagnostic solution has been applied to a Japanese-owned 310,000dwt VLCC. The LC-A software employs an innovative sensor anomaly detection algorithm, and is distinguished from other CBM systems by its ability to analyse correlations between multiple sensor data in the engine room in real-time. It detects early signs of malfunction and potential damage to machinery. The software automatically shows the settings for the main engine and troubleshooting instructions based on the results obtained by the analysis.
The system also has the potential to simplify surveys in the future by enabling ClassNK to monitor machinery condition remotely and only despatch surveyors when necessary.
As a leading supplier of automation, power and propulsion systems and services, ABB has combined new digital technologies with its technical know-how and services by implementing a concept dubbed Integrated Operations. This encapsulates the Internet of Things, Services and People (ITSP), ABB’s version of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Whereas the group’s traditional focus was on the sale of automation, power and propulsion equipment to customers, its system deliveries today include more sensors and monitoring hardware and software. As a result of improving communications and data analytics, the ‘package’ sale can now embrace comprehensive system and ship monitoring by ABB from the shore. A ‘digital twin’ of the ship can be created for the purposes of through-life maintenance and updating.
By the end of 2016, ABB plans to convert all its Marine Service Centres and Competence Centres into Integrated Operations Centres. These will support customers, ships and the group’s own workforce worldwide, around-the-clock, using new software tools and Cloud services. The majority of vessel equipment and systems supplied by ABB now have a basic scope of Integrated Operations features.
By 2020, ABB aims to be connected to 3,000 vessels. It anticipates that Integrated Operations features will form part of every new ABB-supplied vessel by 2020.
Increasing application of digitalisation to the service business is core to one of Wärtsilä’s primary goals, that of securing further growth through an ability to offer customers the most efficient lifecycle solutions. Wärtsilä subscribes to the transformative process known as ‘servitisation’. This provides an opportunity for manufacturers to increase revenue by generating long-term or through-life revenue streams and to differentiate its offer from those of other producers, including manufacturers in lower-cost economies. It also infers reduced risk and increased efficiencies for the customer.
Service and support constitutes a growing part of the increasingly diversified group’s revenues, reaching 43% of overall net sales in 2015.
With the advent of real-time monitoring, the shipping industry is now in a position to be able to conduct asset maintenance keyed to performance. This constitutes an evolution of CBM as it determines not only the condition of machinery and equipment but also the fall or rise in performance.