Hull condition assessment software reduces maintenance

One of Portlines’ bulk carriers undergoing hull recoating as part of the Flagship HCA trials One of Portlines’ bulk carriers undergoing hull recoating as part of the Flagship HCA trials

Flagship, the Pan-European maritime transport project part funded by the EU, has developed software that can forecast the condition of a ship’s hull to help improve the efficacy of surveys and reduce the amount of time a ship is out of service.

Flagship-HCA (hull condition assessment) is designed to accurately predict the condition of a vessel’s structure, coating and components, enabling ship owners and operators to schedule maintenance in a more efficient manner and thereby reduce maintenance costs while improving safety at sea.

The principal economic objectives of HCA software are to extend the life of the existing fleet of tankers and bulk carriers by up to five years, with a 10% to 20% reduction in service repair costs for ships throughout their life-cycle. In this respect a primary concern for ship owners and Class societies is that of corrosion of the ship’s structure and this is the primary focus of the Flagship-HCA project.

Ben Hodgson, project manager at BMT Group and Flagship-HCA sub project leader commented: “Management of corrosion is being addressed through separate tools that meet the specific needs of the ship owner and the class society. The enhanced data exchange that these two tools will promote between class and ship owner will quite possibly lead to the development of enhanced class rules which will ultimately lead to better maintained, more available and safer ships.”

Flagship-HCA includes three primary tools which enable the ship owner and class to exchange hull data in real time, based on crew inspections and maintenance work as well as periodic measurement campaigns. Firstly, the toolset includes the ‘survey advisor tool’ (SAT) which advises surveyors where individual ships are most vulnerable and therefore where they should concentrate their investigations.

Secondly, the ‘hull health programme advisor (HHA) optimises the survey and maintenance programme taking into consideration the vessel’s work schedule and the predicted structural integrity of the vessel. Finally, the ‘corrosion parameter prediction tool’ which takes the results of a survey or set of surveys and update a database if corrosion parameters associated with every aspect of a ship’s hull, based on observed rules and results.

Designed as a tool for ship owners and surveyors Flagship-HCA enables ship owners to schedule vessel maintenance and ship replacement more accurately than has been possible to date. The HCA tool not only optimises existing asset lifecycle and investment decisions but can also provide the class societies with more robust data upon which to base their rulings.

Herman de Meester, coordinator of Flagship, commented: “Flagship has pursued the twin objectives of reducing still further both risk and the environmental impact of the world’s commercial fleet whilst generating the opportunity for real commercial benefits. Flagship-HCA is a tangible example of the maritime industry collaborating to improve performance and efficiency in everyone’s best interest.”

The HCA project was led by the BMT Group in the UK and was supported, delivered and trialled in conjunction with MARINTEK of Norway; Bureau Veritas and Sirehna of France, Germanischer Lloyd of Germany and PORTLINE - Transportes Marítimos Internacionais, of Portugal.

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