Running a sea-going vessel sustainably and reliably increasingly involves collecting and analyzing a host of relevant data. That's where the mtu NautIQ Foresight equipment health management system (EHMS) can help maximize uptime and minimize fuel consumption. Initial experience during pilot operation of the system aboard the Halunder Jet, a vessel equipped with four mtu 16V 4000M63L engines, has been thoroughly positive.
It's a bright August day, and the North Sea is reflecting the sun like a millpond: the crew on the bridge of the Halunder Jet is having an easy passage. The high-speed catamaran operated by ferry company FRS left Hamburg at 09:00 hrs, and after a short stopover in Cuxhaven it's set to enter Heligoland harbor at around 12:30 hrs. Day travelers among the 600+ passengers aboard will then have about four hours on the island during which they can stroll to the 'Tall Anna' sea-stack, watch guillemots and gannets, or engage in some duty-free shopping. They want to make the most of every minute on the island – secure in the knowledge that they'll be back on the mainland in time to catch their onward connections.
Uptime and reliability are therefore top priority for the Halunder Jet's operators, closely followed by cutting fuel consumption – and thus carbon emissions – which is also an increasingly important aspect in times of rising fuel prices and growing environmental awareness. mtu NautIQ Foresight can help with both. Soon, the system will be monitoring technical conditions throughout the vessel and, thanks to targeted evaluation of the collected data, enabling anticipative maintenance before a component fails. It is also designed to help the crew operate the vessel at maximum efficiency.
Flexible and customizable
Chief Engineer Andreas Deckert sits in his chair on the bridge, looking at his notebook which is running the new EHMS. Right now, only the on-board monitoring system can be seen on the permanently installed monitors, but that is set to change soon and when it does, the captain will also be able to access live data from mtu NautIQ Foresight at any time. Nautical information, current performance figures on each engine, and up-coming planned maintenance dates: much of the clearly presented information the new system provides was also available from past on-board solutions. “One of the benefits of mtu NautIQ Foresight is that it's much more flexible,” says Deckert. “If need be, we can attach more sensors to record other metrics we need to see aboard. Also, the software can be customized at any time to show these.”
Since the EHMS went into service a few months back, newly added features include vibration control sensors and a sensor for checking the oil quality on one of the engines. The next step will be to install knock sensors on individual cylinders. “By specifying minimum and maximum values we can detect irregularities early on,” explains the chief engineer. “The three other engines are now also to be fitted with oil sensors.” Right now, he has been looking at crankcase pressure on his notebook. While the figures for three of the engines are in a very similar range, the figure for the inboard starboard engine is conspicuously higher. “Might just be the sensor playing up,” suspects Deckert, “so I'll have it moved to the inside port engine to test the theory. If the fault persists, we'll need to troubleshoot the cause.”
Solutions from bridge to propeller
The familiarization stage for crew and system in this pilot has come to a successful conclusion, and the task now is to add more functionality bit by bit, and ultimately exploit the full potential of mtu NautIQ Foresight. “We're delighted to be partnering with FRS, whose regular feedback helps us continue making improvements,” emphasizes Bart Kowalinski, Manager, Marine Automation at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. At first glance, collecting live data aboard a vessel doesn't seem like a complex task, “But in reality this is a milestone because the quality of data and merging it into a single tool makes mtu NautIQ Foresight very special indeed.” The successful launch of the system underlines Rolls-Royce's claim to offer solutions as a one-stop-provider – from bridge to propeller. For fleet managers, Rolls-Royce is going to digitalize the maintenance strategy and combine it with data-driven forecasting. mtu NautIQ Foresight will provide system status data at the click of a button, making uptime management easier than ever.
NautIQ Foresight is part of a complete vessel automation portfolio called 'mtu NautIQ' which includes a range of new and proven platform management and vessel management systems for craft of all types and sizes. Kowalinski reports that additions to the product family are being planned. “We now have whole new capabilities for intelligent crew support, autonomous control and remote control,” he says, citing the example of a virtual co-pilot that makes it possible to navigate more precisely. Another new product enables tugboat skippers to leave the wheelhouse and maneuver their vessels from somewhere with better visibility, improving safety and efficiency and producing other benefits as well. “We're continuously adding to our expertise as a solution provider, creating real added value for our customers.”
Artificial intelligence creates new opportunities
Among the other benefits of the new EHMS aboard the Halunder Jet, Kowalinski points to the fact that the data produced is now also available on land where people such as the fleet manager and the chief technical officer can use it whenever they need to. Components from other manufacturers are already included, such as ZF gearboxes. “And once we've collected and analyzed enough data, we can use artificial intelligence and let the system use its machine learning capabilities to detect automatically when something's not quite right.” As examples, he cites calculation of the remaining service life of injectors, and situation-related suggestions for adjusting speed to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. Bart Kowalinski is convinced that “there are many ways we can use AI to create added value.”
FRS fleet manager Jörg Erdtmann is very satisfied with the experience so far. “Our current overriding objectives are to prevent damage and save fuel,” he says, adding, “and we're well on our way towards getting there.” He reckons that, for the components already fitted with sensors, it will soon be possible to specify limits and program alarm levels: “And when those levels are exceeded, the system will then automatically send alerts to a cell phone, enabling fast diagnostics via a rapid access interface.” Among other things, a performance measuring system and ultrasonic monitoring by means of knock sensors on individual cylinders are being worked on for the near future. Erdtmann is responsible for a current fleet of 72 vessels across the world and can well imagine more widespread use of mtu NautIQ Foresight going forward. “Just giving the fleet manager, chief engineer and crew access to the same data is very helpful indeed,” he says. “It means we can discuss matters there and then, and find solutions quickly and easily.”
“Everything's doing what it should do”
Back on the bridge of the Halunder Jet, the port of Heligoland can already be seen in the distance. Andreas Deckert has served on the high-speed catamaran since the very beginning, but he never gets bored with the route. “The sea and the vastness of it all are my thing really,” he says. “This is where I unwind, and it's why I love this job so much.” On passage, he monitors the engine room from the bridge, and while in port on the island he sees to any work that needs to be done aboard. Today, an oil filter has to be changed, and some minor work done on an auxiliary engine. “Nothing special to report,” reports the Chief Engineer contentedly. “Everything's doing what it should do.”And so, passengers can be sure they will arrive safely on schedule in Cuxhaven and Hamburg that evening.