At the beginning of the pandemic, MAN Energy Solutions turbocharger repair and maintenance services operation faced a number of significant challenges, given both the constraints on worldwide travel and limitations on freight capacity with regard to the delivery of spare parts.
However, says Stefan Kratzer, head of technical services: “We quickly adapted to the prevailing circumstances and overcame these issues due to our numerous service and repair centres worldwide, which were able to supply labour and spare parts wherever they were needed. As a result of our strong and strategic response to the pandemic, even in the cruise liner business, which was heavily affected by Covid-19, several operators reached out to us for extensive turbocharger maintenance, repair and retrofit projects. All other sectors, such as tanker, container and offshore shipping, remained solid over the course of the year.”
Furthermore, MAN Energy Solutions has pressed ahead with the digitisation of various service processes to overcome the logistical constraints being faced. In particular, it has made extensive use of PrimeServ Eye Tech, a web-based software platform for online assisted reality collaboration, through which the company has been able to carry out technical consulting, commissioning, operations and maintenance, as well as troubleshooting, remotely.
Kratzer says: “This has meant that we have been able to even serve customers located in restricted areas, because distance becomes less relevant with this modern technology. Other than faster troubleshooting and the ability to access the service from anywhere in the world, benefits also include cost and time and greater flexibility in terms of the service schedule.”
PrimeServ Eye Tech can be used with smart glasses, notebooks, smartphones or tablets and works alongside PrimeServ Assist, the company’s predictive monitoring service that intelligently analyses live data to provide proactive optimisation and performance updates.
However, the company has not merely relied on remote technology to sustain turbocharger activities, highlighted by the fact that engineers from MAN PrimeServ attended a hopper dredger several times in the last quarter of 2020.
During these visits, PrimeServe engineers serviced, upgraded and retrofitted not only turbochargers but also the entire air management system onboard. Kratzer adds: “We also responded to requests for emissions reducing solutions, such as our selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system, on other vessels. In these cases, the objective of our attendance onboard was to examine the SCR modules, which are installed inside the SCR reactor housing, and to confirm they were behaving as expected."
Throughout the inspection of the inside of the SCR reactor, the mechanical condition of the catalyst modules was monitored, samples were taken and then examined in the laboratory at MAN headquarters to check catalyser activity and the influence of possible residues of fuel, lubricating oil and additives in the exhaust gas.
Kratzer says: “The inspection of the SCR catalyst modules was challenging due to Covid-19 and the resulting restrictions on travel, and required testing of attending personnel. There were accordingly requirements to wear face masks during the various activities and a strict separation from the crew was maintained.”
Close collaboration between the MAN PrimeServ engineers onboard these ships and experts located remotely at headquarters in Augsburg was critical to success. The use of Microsoft Teams greatly facilitated the exchange of knowledge and information between all parties, the company points out.
Kratzer comments: “The newly gained knowledge about SCR performance will be used as part of the continuous development process. It’s all part of our strategy for offering turbocharger maintenance and repairs, as well as retrofit solutions and upgrades, that comply with environmental conditions in the future.”
Another positive development over the past year has been the reorganisation of PrimeServ Germany, merging its turbocharger and engine activities. According to Kratzer: “This has optimised spare parts ordering for the entire system by having engine and turbocharger experts in one department, digital solutions for the entire system and one point of contact for our customers. Furthermore, all customer-related departments are now merged so we are able to react more quickly and offer a higher service quality.”