Condition monitoring improves offshore vessel thruster reliability

Individual ThrusterSCAN monitoring unit Individual ThrusterSCAN monitoring unit

UK company Kittiwake Developments has recently launched ThrusterSCAN, a new addition to the company’s line of asset protection technology, aimed at the offshore market.

The company says that ThrusterSCAN can help to predict failure, enable preventative maintenance and ultimately insure against costly downtime of azimuthing thrusters. Individual ThrusterSCAN monitoring units are installed local to each thruster and consist of a touch screen machine interface, metallic particle sensor, oil condition sensor, moisture sensor, oil temperature sensor and sampling pump. A central control room touch screen display provides an overview of the condition of all thrusters.

ThrusterSCAN is said to deliver early warning of thruster component damage, lubricant degradation and seal leaks/failures, while providing critical information to help optimise thruster operating parameters and effectively manage overhaul schedules. Real time feedback can highlight any changes in status as they start to occur, rather than at scheduled inspections when, according to the company, it may be too late to heed the warning and implement preventative measures.

Peter Pilon, CEO of Kittiwake’s US operations, has specialist offshore industry experience and has been closely involved in the introduction of the new technology. He commented: “With 30 years’ experience within the upstream oil and gas industry, I am intimately familiar with the constant battle against downtime fought by oil and gas operators. With colossal average day rates, the cost of any loss of productivity can quickly escalate. Added to which, exceeding the agreed levels of downtime during a tender can incur a fine, and of course records from previous tenders can also provide competitive advantage. It is eminently clear from trial data that Kittiwake’s ThrusterSCAN product can both manage risk and reduce costs; maximising uptime and enhancing the drilling contractor’s performance and subsequent returns.”

The system is claimed to be simple to retrofit and compatible with existing condition monitoring systems, and to continuously monitor wear debris, water ingress and oil quality, enabling maintenance engineers to make fast and informed decisions with confidence.

Pilon concludes: “Understanding thruster condition is critical to the drilling operation; refurbishment is essential and failure to be avoided at all costs. Not only can ThrusterSCAN predict failure and enable more efficient lubricant usage, the system can demonstrate the effect of operating conditions, informing parameter adjustment to prolong life. The system can also potentially extend service intervals based on condition, rather than hours of operation, which assumes thrusters are running at 100% capacity, 100% of the time.”

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