Growing importance of advanced fuel management

05 Jul 2016
Under project Ecoship, real time data provided by the fuel monitoring system enables vessel speed and operation adjustments to be made

Under project Ecoship, real time data provided by the fuel monitoring system enables vessel speed and operation adjustments to be made

Damian McCann, enginei product manager at Royston diesel power, says that the MEPC’s recent call for the reporting of vessel fuel consumption highlights the growing importance of advanced fuel management systems.

The IMO’s 69th Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 69) has now drafted mandatory requirements for ships to record and report their fuel consumption.

Under the system, ships of 5,000gt and above will be required to collect a variety of data, including consumption data for each type of fuel they use. The data will be reported to the ship’s flag state after the end of each calendar year, which will review it and issue a Statement of Compliance to the ship. Flag states will be required to pass this data to IMO for inclusion in a Ship Fuel Consumption Database.

The draft requirements will be put forward for adoption at MEPC 70 in October this year and could enter into force as part of Marpol in 2018.

The mandatory data collection system is intended to be the first stage in a three-step process in which analysis of the data collected would provide the basis for an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate in the MEPC on whether any further measures are needed to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

Greater focus

The IMO’s decision brings the issue of fuel consumption and operating efficiencies into even greater focus and reinforces a marine sector trend in favour of effective fuel monitoring that is rapidly gathering pace.

For example, in the oilfield services sector, with the fall in oil prices resulting in considerable E&P and cost reduction pressures coming from the oil and gas majors, the fuel consumption efficiencies of OSVs has already attracted considerable interest.

As a result, many international oil companies (IOCs) now require the inclusion of fuel monitoring data in offshore support contracts to provide better visibility of operational costs, to encourage improved working efficiencies and to combat fuel security issues.

Similarly, in the passenger transport market, Scottish ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) announced recently that the installation of advanced fuel management systems across its large vessel fleet had put the company on track to meet its own 2% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

Under project Ecoship, CalMac says that the real time data being provided by the fuel monitoring system enables the master and chief engineer to make small vessel speed and operation adjustments that are reducing fuel consumption and emissions, without affecting timetable performance.

Together these examples demonstrate how next generation fuel monitoring systems are already being used to provide the robust, accurate and comprehensive data needed for owners and operators to properly analyse and measure vessel performance.

Fuel management systems

The most modern fuel management systems have taken both the hardware and software elements of traditional fuel management systems and increased their ability to gather comprehensive and real time engine performance data, as well as take into account a range of other operational factors and conditions.

In doing so, sophisticated on board flowmeters and sensor systems are now combined with powerful data capture software to produce a complete picture of the mission critical information required to assess and maintain vessel fuel efficiencies.

Importantly, new data options include the measurement of fuel consumption by individual engines so that operators can more accurately determine actual engine loads for the scheduling of service and overhaul requirements.

Fuel consumption figures and trends can also be provided for different operating tasks such as standby, in transit and manoeuvring, as well as during loading and discharging routines – with the fuel consumption levels associated with the latter now coming under particularly close scrutiny by charterers and vessel owners.   

In the latest and most advanced fuel monitoring technologies these changes in operational mode can be detected automatically, removing the need for manual intervention by the crew and improving the quality of the fuel consumption data by eliminating the risk of human error.

This gives operators a complete picture of how different vessel types perform in different conditions and allows the comparative fuel efficiencies of individual vessels to be measured and used as a guide to their suitability for specific types of work or for future contracts.

In this way, detailed engine performance and fuel management data can also be used to support a wide range of environmental considerations. For example, with density measurement of fuel, operators can now use the fuel data to verify when switches are made from heavy fuel to low sulphur fuel in ECA and SECA zones, which are especially prevalent in the USA in relation to a vessel’s SEEMP.

Modern fuel monitoring systems also facilitate the compilation of daily reports and vessel energy efficiency plans in different formats. For example, as well as presenting fuel data on board via touchscreen monitors installed on the bridge and in engine control rooms, data transfer from ship to shore means that live and historical performance figures can be accessed through a simple web dashboard for full vessel performance analysis.

As a result, the ability to remotely access and interrogate the information captured on board directly through online portals and web dashboards means that onshore fleet management and supervisory staff do not have to rely solely on daily crew or voyage reports.

As the recent IMO MEPC announcement confirms, advanced fuel management systems have a crucial role to play in optimising vessel performance and providing the range of data needed for more informed decisions to be taken on the control of vessel emissions.

Royston is an expanding diesel engine supply, service and repair company that has operated successfully within the global marine and offshore market for more than 30 years.

The company’s advanced enginei integrated fuel management system is compatible with all marine engine types and can be interfaced with new-build engine installations or retrofitted to operating vessels.

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