Bourbon targets maintenance improvements

Bourbon's reliability-based maintenance projects are expected to have a significant impact on vessel availability (credit: Bourbon) Bourbon's reliability-based maintenance projects are expected to have a significant impact on vessel availability (credit: Bourbon)

Aware that maintenance programmes have a significant impact on ship profitability, French ship owner Bourbon is investing heavily to improve the availability of its vessels.

The company has a team of 30 people based in Bucharest whose goal is to increase efficiency by anticipating possible breakdowns – hopefully taking Bourbon’s vessel availability above the 97% achieved today.

To make this gain in efficiency Bourbon is rethinking its maintenance programme, explains Anne-Laure Comte, the company’s head of maintenance. "It is essential to think of maintenance as being at the service of operations. The aeronautic industry has shown us the way by developing maintenance based on reliability. Today, we are closer to this logic.”

This means studying the functions that a piece of equipment must fulfil, its criticality, and assessing the best solution in terms of maintenance. A partnership is currently underway with SKF to acquire this skill. As a result of this project, profound changes are being made to Bourbon’s maintenance management strategy.

“Take the specific example of ball bearings,” says Comte. “Systematic change according to the number of hours of use is not necessarily appropriate. On the other hand, a vibration analysis will rapidly identify a change of condition and enable us to remedy it."

Bourbon also expects that the development of big data collection will enable it to perform large-scale analyses and improve its knowledge of operations. A pilot programme is underway with two vessels already connected via their vessel monitoring systems. Two more will follow by the end of 2018.

Comte explains: “This enables us to ensure that the vessel is operated in an optimal manner, for example for engine power. Maintenance is then performed according to the use of equipment and not according to a fixed calendar interval."

The project is a deep one, including the revision of Bourbon’s maintenance directives, procedures, and instructions. Aware of the difficulty of this profound change, the project team is working in liaison with each ship manager. Each vessel will be supervised by two ‘change officers’, who will be on board for more than weeks to ensure better compliance with the new practices by the crew.

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