CBM systems are getting smaller and smarter

Farstad Shipping’s 'Far Scorpion' benefits from the Rolls-Royce Hemos monitoring system Farstad Shipping’s 'Far Scorpion' benefits from the Rolls-Royce Hemos monitoring system

Bandwidth is becoming irrelevant despite the huge amount of data being made available to condition based monitoring systems, writes Wendy Laursen.

Over the past four or five years fleet broadband capabilities have improved enormously, but so have the data producing capacities of ship engines and components. Machinery manufacturers such as Wärtsilä, ABB, Caterpillar, Rolls-Royce, and condition monitoring specialists like Kittiwake now produce components and systems that generate self-reporting data. “With all those components producing performance data – just as with airlines or land-based power generation facilities where this has been an issue for years – there is now a big data problem on ships,” says Dr Dale Neef, managing director of independent data management consulting company, DNA Maritime in the US.

However, the answer is developing quickly, says Dr Neef. First, companies wanting to capture significant amounts of data – even if they only hold it for a short period of time – are using data historians for data mining such as companies like OSIsoft. The second important development is computer based maintenance software that resides on both the ship and at the shore office (or simply on a third-party server with access through an internet portal). The software interrogates the data held in the historian using sophisticated analytics and pre-set parameters. Only data that is outside the norm is flagged and captured. The software has rule editors that allow the owners (or OEMs) to set normal, cautionary and unsafe parameters, and good CBM systems can actually ‘learn’ from repetition what performance is normal and what data indicates high temperature, excess vibration, etc., outside the safe normal parameters. Data that is relevant is then packaged and sent via broadband, usually only once or twice a day.

“To do whole vessel monitoring, that is to be able to capture and interpret data output from the wide variety of OEM components all over the ship, requires CBM software that is open-systems based and can consolidate data from many different sources,” says Dr Neef. “That type of CBM software is fairly new and still fairly rare I believe. That is why ESRG is so unusual. ESRG is already doing that as a CBM platform, capturing 5,000+ data points for 120+ US navy ships and sending all the boiled down data to be monitored by the group in Virginia Beach. Band width is made pretty much irrelevant with new technologies, but all of this means that companies will need to invest in a CBM system in order to take advantage of the software’s data filtering capabilities.”

ESRG (the US-based Engineering Software Reliability Group) claims independent audits undertaken for the US Navy have shown that for generators alone, using its analytics currently saves $70,000 per ship per year. “When you are looking at 30 different systems on a lot of these ships, you end up very quickly with hundreds of thousands of dollars a year,” says ESRG general manager Robert Bradenham. The ESRG system uses existing electronic data on board the ship so the hardware installation is small. The software has been designed from the beginning to handle large amounts of data and to provide easy to use analysis tools on a laptop computer. It is independent of any particular OEM, offering owners the power to decide the trade-offs on maintenance they want, says Bradenham. The system is suited to both commercial and military vessels, and ESRG announced in August that its OstiaEdge SmartShip remote monitoring and condition based maintenance system has been provided to the Republic of Korea Navy for its new FFX-class multi-purpose frigates and KMLS-II mine layer ship.

Wärtsilä has developed a unified software platform for the different condition monitoring services it provides, including PCMS for rotating equipment and CBM for engines. The synthesis will enable all data collected to be available in one place and will include a number of enhancements to the user interface. As well as making the unified dataset available for in-house experts, the system is available to customers. “The shipowner has access to the reports and can also select a timeframe to examine particular sensors or trends more closely. Seeing the actual data behind the reports creates transparency, and we see this as very important,” says Tommi Kauppinen, general manager for optimisers at Wärtsilä Services. Wärtsilä Optimisers is a development programme launched by Wärtsilä Services with the target of providing customers with integrated e-services and data warehousing which enables them to optimise their life-cycle operations.

The PCMS system already has the necessary class approvals to facilitate extended overhaul intervals without compromising safety and availability and Mr Kauppinen cites a recent success story where the company’s systems were able to detect a crack in a toothed gear several weeks before it actually broke loose and damaged the gearbox. The industry-wide dataset available to Wärtsilä from many installations enables increasingly accurate predictions of the equipment’s remaining life. Looking ahead, the large amount of ambient measurements taken by Wärtsilä’s condition monitoring systems will further be used to assist ship operators in fuel management. “It is not just operating costs and fuel savings that we can achieve with these monitoring services, it is also increased reliability and if you are on track with the required maintenance, spare parts logistics becomes much easier,” he says.

Full outsourcing of everything other than starting/stopping and running, commonly known as ‘power by the hour’, is offered by many OEMs. This type of arrangement has a number of benefits and, if it can be afforded, moves all of the angst, responsibility and stress from the owner to the OEM (or contractor), says Martin Briddon MBE, engineering manager for James Fisher Mimic. The company provides condition monitoring solutions based on its Mimic condition monitoring gateway software system.

“It is interesting to note that where ‘power by the hour’ is introduced the OEM will minimise his own risk by employing a condition based approach to monitoring the engine and triggering maintenance activities,” says Mr Briddon. “The OEM recognises that if he is responsible and needs to return a profit then he must be in control and to be in control he must have information. In turn the information must be derived from good quality data, measured from the right positions, at the right time and delivered to someone that can decipher and understand it. He invariably does not trust anyone other than his own sensors, systems and staff to retrieve this data, to analyse it and to make the appropriate condition status evaluation and maintenance decision.”

Mr Briddon says the best time to introduce CBM is during the build stage, or ideally during the design and specification stage. “Get it right at the design and get it right at the specification then the vessel’s engineer will be able to maintain operations instead of maintaining breakdowns.” Those ship owners that want to be in control of their own vessels and equipment (similar to the major OEMs), he says, must adopt this approach. They must find some way of deciding what data to measure and record and how to use it. “James Fisher Mimic has the knowledge, the software and the hardware to assist ship owners to make the right choices.”

Farstad Shipping has adopted Rolls-Royce’s advanced condition monitoring on two offshore support vessels in its fleet, Far Searcher and Far Scorpion, and the data have been used to lower fuel costs and to improve predictability and planning of maintenance. The Rolls-Royce Hemos system enables trends in the condition of equipment to be monitored and interpreted to facilitate overhauling before failure occurs. Service intervals can often be extended, says Rolls-Royce.

On the vessels, sensors have been fitted on the Helicon-X3 propeller and thruster control systems, Towcon winch control system and Icon DP. They are connected to standardised Hemos data acquisition cabinets that are hooked up to the Rolls-Royce integrated network. Information is stored at the on-board log server together with ship operation and navigation data available on the same network and data from the ship alarm and automation system. Analyses are performed and reports with real time information are presented on the Hemos display on board and also transmitted to shore. Acon@web is a new service using data from the Hemos system to provide a number of reports including fuel consumption and emissions. With Acon@web the shipowner may monitor a specific vessel, sister vessels or the entire fleet from a PC, laptop or iPad.

“We see several direct benefits from Hemos and continuous health monitoring. One is timely warning of the need for maintenance. Another is in planning work to be done during drydockings or port visits,” says Børge Nakken, vice president – technology and development at Farstad Shipping. “Rolls-Royce can improve its service offer by knowing well in advance what spares or exchange units are likely to be needed, so that they can be available at the right location at the right time. The process also helps with maintaining an optimal level of spare parts, reducing the cost of parts storage, and rationalising production of spares, with economic advantages to all parties.”

Icon’s Doctor monitoring software for diesel engines now includes evaluation of collected data to help engineers make maintenance decisions. Report capability is now standard and the diagnostic reports include summary of results relating to compression, pre-ignition, ignition point comparison, spread of flame and power balance. Possible problems are identified by automatic examination of the traces of dynamic cylinder pressure that the Doctor system produces.

Prüftechnik reports that the measurement component of its Rotalign Ultra iS laser shaft alignment system has an intelligent sensor that provides quick, easy and more precise alignment. During shaft rotation a large amount of measurement data is recorded automatically and continuously. This is claimed to be more precise than a measuring procedure based on three positions. The user will also receive information on the quality of the measurement. The system’s seven-axis sensor is capable of handling gross misalignments and measuring long couplings. If interference such as inadmissible coupling backlash or vibration influences from adjacent machinery occur, the system will provide hints on how to obtain better data. “The intelligent sensor actively supports the user by detecting and eliminating errors automatically. sensAlign thinks proactively and analytically, and evaluates the quality of the measuring results upon completion of the measuring process,” says Michael Stolze, managing director of Prüftechnik Alignment Systems.

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