How shipmanagers use data analytics to optimise engine performance

Riviera Maritime | BY Martyn Wingrove

Combine engine condition monitoring with ship performance analytics to optimise the whole vessel, using data analytics to lower fuel costs, reduce emissions, minimise propulsion issues and prevent vessel downtime

These were the key conclusions from a panel of technical experts at Riviera’s How operators use data to optimise engine performance webinar. Sponsored by Aquametro Oil & Marine and Propulsion Analytics, the webinar was held on 3 March 2021 during Riviera’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week.

On the panel were FML Ship Management director and general manager Sunil Kapoor, Thome Group technical manager Rajiv Malhotra, Aquametro Oil & Marine international sales manager Thomson John, Propulsion Analytics engine performance manager Sokratis Demesoukas and Propulsion Analytics communications and marketing executive Zoe Lygizou-Karlou.

They discussed how owners and operators can harness engine and fuel-flow monitoring data to optimise engine power and performance.

Condition monitoring

Mr Kapoor said monitoring vessel speed and fuel consumption ensures vessel operators can keep to their commercial contractual and efficiency requirements. While ship operators “can avoid breakdowns” by detecting potential problems and “rectifying issues”, they can also reduce emissions, he said.

FML has developed a portal for 24/7 vessel performance monitoring. It combines data from the ship and weather information. “We can monitor and compare performance with sister ships or vessels of similar design,” said Mr Kapoor. He provided case studies demonstrating how these information sources enable FML to detect operational issues, under-performance and ways to optimise trim to improve efficiency.

Mr Malhotra explained the benefits of engine performance monitoring and analysis. He said the main focus was ensuring “engine availability and reliability” on managed ships. Thome technically manages more than 200 ships for owners worldwide.

Engines should be monitored “to minimise downtime, for energy efficiency and emissions control” said Mr Malhotra. Monitoring is also used to prove compliance with forthcoming environmental regulations.

He went on to explain the importance of using accurate data “to achieve those objectives”. To improve operational data accuracy, shipmanagers can use validation in the system, manual screening in the office and train crew and vessel managers in its use. Installing measuring equipment such as torsion, energy and flow meters, in-line sensors and automatic data loggers minimises human intervention in data collation.

Mr John presented the Aquametro range of onboard sensors and meters including Controil flowmeters for measuring the actual fuel consumption of the engines, power meters “and sensors for monitoring and analysing the recorded information of fuel, power and other engine parameters”. Aquametro also provides Viscomaster for fuel viscosity measurement and Homogenizer for fuel treatment to improve the fuel combustion.

“The use of high-quality sensors along with real-time monitoring and analysis strategies will provide an excellent opportunity to improve the efficiency and safety of ships and related equipment,” said Mr John. “Collecting high-quality ship data with reliable sensors will open up new ways to optimise and extend the lifecycle of the vessel according to the highest standards of operation,” he added.

Mr Demesoukas said sensors and information from bridge systems can be analysed with weather information to evaluate whole vessel performance in different conditions. “All data should be collected with high frequency, perhaps every five minutes,” he said. “Data can come from the navigation signal, such as speed over water, position and rudder angle, and from engine revolutions, power management and fuel consumption, with weather data coming from sensors on vessels.” This data is then uploaded to a cloud-based database for analysis by software.

Propulsion analytics

Ms Lygizou-Karlou introduced Propulsion Analytics’ new analysis product VesselQuad, a combination of an engine performance management suite and Quad vessel performance evaluation software. “This fusion is the most accurate vessel and engine performance assessment software,” she said. “It combines engine monitoring, machine learning, vessel performance and data analytics.”

There was general agreement from those attending the webinar that speed and consumption performance optimisation is significantly enhanced through using high-frequency auto-logged data collection using in-line sensors, such as flowmeters, shaft power meters, anemometers and speed loggers. Of those who responded to the poll question, 51% strongly agreed and 34% agreed, while just 4% disagreed and 11% did not have an opinion.

When the audience was asked which methods they considered to be the most reliable for fuel consumption measurement, 82% said fuel-flow meters, 16% said tank soundings and just 2% bunker delivery notes.

Around 94% of attendees then agreed continuous power and torque measurement of an engine were critical for optimising vessel performance.

They were then asked which of the following was the most important feature in a vessel performance monitoring system, with half (50%) of the responses for reliable measurement sensors, while 31% said it was real-time data, 12% thought it was predictions and actionable insights based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, and 7% thought user-friendly interfaces.

In another poll question, attendees were asked whether advanced engine performance monitoring technologies were able to compensate for shortcomings in crew competence in engine performance evaluation. 45% agreed with this statement, 25% strongly agreed, while 9% disagreed, 6% strongly disagreed and 15% remained on the fence.

Attendees were then asked their opinion on operational and environmental issues. They were asked which factor showed the greatest potential for improving the Energy Efficiency Operating Index (EEOI) to achieve the IMO 2030 greenhouse gas targets for carbon emission intensity.

Based on their operational experience with managed vessels, 54% said engine performance optimisation, 23% hull and propeller performance optimisation, 18% thought speed optimisation and just 5% commercial operations optimisation and better fleet utilisation.

On another question, 71% of those who responded thought EEOI was the more appropriate carbon-intensity index for assessing the carbon footprint of a vessel and 29% said annual emission ratios.

Attendees were then asked, besides engine power limitation, which other solutions did they foresee contributing the most to enable existing vessels to meet the required Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index levels set by IMO.

45% said engine upgrades, such as modifications to turbochargers, fuel injection components, exhaust valves and control systems, for greater efficiency.

28% said propulsion improvement devices, including post-swirl and pre-swirl devices or rudder and propeller modifications, 16% thought using waste-heat recovery systems, 9% said installing shaft generators and just 2% said air lubrication.How operators use data to optimise engine performance webinar panel

Riviera’s How operators use data to optimise engine performance webinar panel were (left to right): Aquametro Oil & Marine international sales manager Thomson John, FML Ship Management director and general manager Sunil Kapoor, Thome Group technical manager Rajiv Malhotra, Propulsion Analytics communications and marketing executive Zoe Lygizou-Karlou and Propulsion Analytics engine performance manager Sokratis Demesoukas