The ever increasing importance of technology in maritime service
Commercial Director Marine
Gone are the days of fixing assets after they broke down. This way of doing things is considered as ‘too little, too late’. The maritime service and maintenance sector is ever-progressing, constantly looking for ways to increase uptime and reduce costs. In the last decades, the role of technology has become more and more important, and this trend is showing no sign of slowing down. To learn more about the latest developments, Damen Offshore Wind Journal caught up with Jochem Neuteboom, Commercial Director Marine at Pon Power, the Netherlands-based Caterpillar dealer.
“The industry moved away from corrective maintenance many years ago,” begins Mr Neuteboom. “It was followed by preventative maintenance, and now we are moving into the early phases of condition-based maintenance.” How does he see that happening? “Data is the future,” he answers. “Caterpillar has established Marine Asset Intelligence (MAI), a completely new division.” The new programme is based on extensive data collection to build an enormous database that will serve as the baseline for comparison analysis.
“MAI is about the continuous measurement of many components that are installed on a vessel,” he explains. “It goes well beyond monitoring just the engine. This is about collecting data from all the systems and equipment on a vessel – compressors, oil separators, HVAC, radar. This is really a big step – it’s total vessel monitoring.” The key to MAI is the way the data are analysed: “The power of this system is that data are collected and then compared to baseline measurements. For example, it’s not just comparing engine injector data from one engine, not from the whole fleet, but from the entire database.”
Furthermore, by combining various sets of data and looking for relationships between them, the system becomes even smarter, creating an overall picture of the vessel’s operating state. Mr Neuteboom tells of one real-life example of this all-inclusive approach: “The port engine of the vessel was running at just a slightly higher load, its rudder angles had slightly changed and the vessel’s position in the water had also altered.”
Nothing remarkable about any one of those snippets of information, but when viewed as a whole it’s a different story. “By combining these three small pieces of information, we could warn the owner of a problem. Divers inspected the vessel and found a rope on the prop shaft – its timely removal saved thousands of dollars.” By comparing and combining data, it’s clear that taking quick action can prevent substantial damage.
Looking specifically at the offshore wind market, where productive vessels with large operational windows are vital, such an advanced service programme could be a way to extend and optimise maintenance on complex vessels. “This system is for companies that have safety and reliability as priorities.”
With MAI now in the pilot stage, Caterpillar is talking to leading maritime companies, including Damen, about the setup. “It will be up to the owner to decide the scope of coverage – which systems and components to monitor,” says Mr Neuteboom. “After all, this is more than preventing breakdowns, it’s about owners gaining control and being able to plan their maintenance schedule for their whole fleet to maximise their uptime. This can only work if it’s beneficial to the customer.”