Testing times – how water in oil assessment can safeguard operational efficiency

‘Africa Mercy’ – benefits from Kittiwake’s onboard test kits ‘Africa Mercy’ – benefits from Kittiwake’s onboard test kits

Martin Lucas, business unit manager for Parker Kittiwake warns shipowners about the adverse effects water in oil can have on overall operational efficiency, and how these effects can easily be minimised.

In the current financial climate, efficiency is crucial for shipowners. However, with fuel price pressures and environmental regulation taking centre stage, ship operators can neglect the issue of onboard maintenance, leaving themselves at risk from large bills for replacement parts and potentially hazardous operational environments.

Checking water levels in oil used by generators and engines is one simple yet crucial procedure that can lead to substantial savings and the smooth running of a vessel. On average, testing for oil in water alone can generate efficiencies of more than 70% on shipping costs - savings that can then be applied to other operating expenses.

Whatever the equipment, water can displace the oil at contacting surfaces, reducing the amount of lubrication and activating surfaces, which may themselves act as catalysts for degradation of the oil. Water contamination within lubricating oil storage tanks can lead to microbiological growth, forming yeast, mould and bacteria that will clog filters and very rapidly corrode fuel systems. There are many potential sources of water contamination in any system, which include the purifier, tank condensation, deliberate adulteration as well as leakage from tanks, oil coolers, charge air coolers and steam heating coils among others.

Mercy Ships, an international organisation with a mission to increase health care access throughout the world, has recently realised the benefits of onboard testing. Through the deployment of the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, Mercy Ships works with host nations to help fill the gaps in health care systems and serve the immediate needs of their population free of charge.

Parker Kittiwake supplies the Africa Mercy with the FG-K2-101-KW EasySHIP Water in Oil reagent pack to test the levels of water in lube oils used by generators and main engines. As the Africa Mercy is on an outreach mission in Guinea, being able to test the lube oils on-board is very important, as there are no pit stops. It would be very difficult to have the Africa Mercy serviced so preventing downtime is paramount.

Mercy Ships relies on funds raised through members and charitable donations. It is therefore very important to have the right equipment and keep the Africa Mercy in good working condition. Any failures of machinery will result in delayed medical help to those who need it most and unaffordable costs to a charity heavily reliant on fluctuating income. These donations need to go to offering free medical services and humanitarian aid and that’s why maximising the longevity of lube oils in generators is very important. The longer the oil can be kept, the more donation money can be put towards helping more people.

The EasySHIP reagent sachet has been developed solely with ease of use and shipping costs in mind. Engineers onboard the Africa Mercy require little training to use the Kittiwake test kits, as they are intuitive and easy to use. Largely made up of volunteers, there is always a high turnover of staff. Individuals on board are there for short periods at a time and therefore, the simplicity of using these kits is important to the crew aboard the Africa Mercy. The non-hazardous, single dose, no mess sachet requires no pre-work and no mixing before use.

Parker Kittiwake continues to work together with Mercy Ships and has recently donated EasySHIP Water in Oil reagent products to ensure they can continue to channel funds into providing care to the people of West Africa.


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