Web-enabled condition monitoring keeps shipping fleet afloat

A shipping company operates a fleet of 29 tankers, carrying crude oil, oil products and liquefied natural gas around the world. It has made shipboard plant-equipment data accessible to its engineering superintendents anywhere in the world. Ship engineers manually collect data on levels of vibration and other variables, such as pressures and temperatures, for critical plant equipment on a routine basis. The data is then automatically e-mailed via the ships' satellite communications to their central database.

At the monitoring centre, the data is collated and analyzed. Each month, reports on the condition of the plant equipment are available through a secure site, which can be accessed by personnel with the necessary security clearance. Each ship has its own Web page, which provides technical information for the vessel and collates all analysis reports, technical documents, manuals and user guides. At the click of a button, ship engineers can obtain help from condition monitoring experts via an online e-mail form.

The user receives two major benefits from Web-enabling its condition monitoring data:

  • It provides a cost-effective means of collecting and analyzing data from what are basically mobile factories. The company has already realized savings by reducing unexpected breakdowns and repairs, thereby enabling better planning of routine maintenance.

  • It helps reduce survey costsincurred to keep the ship registered with its classification society, Lloyd’s Register. Lloyd’s Register normally requires that all ajor plants onboard be inspected on a five-year rolling basis. However, because Lloyd’s Register is able to carry out “virtual” assessments of the plant's condition just by checking the condition monitoring reports online, the approved condition-monitoring programme exempts the ships from a large portion of these costly shipboard checks.

- Pramod Kaushik