Digitalization is changing the world. The speed and volume of data we generate, share, store and analyze is increasing exponentially each year – and shipping is no exception. Ships have become sophisticated data hubs. The mtu NautIQ Foresight equipment health management system (EHMS) is a case in point. It uses data to help ships travel more efficiently. The Halunder Jet catamaran run by ferry operator FRS Helgoline is now in its second season running this system.
It's a bright sunny spring day, and the North Sea is reflecting the sun like a millpond. The crew on the bridge of the Halunder Jet is looking forward to the passage. Shortly before 9 a.m., the four mtu 16V 4000M63L engines are started up, and at nine sharp we're off. Uptime and reliability are top priority for the Halunder Jet's operators, closely followed by cutting fuel consumption – and thus carbon emissions. mtu NautIQ Foresight can help with both. The system monitors the technical condition of the ship's main components – the engines, the gearbox and the generators. By evaluating data selectively, it enables components to be maintained proactively before they fail. It is also designed to help the crew operate the vessel as efficiently as possible. A load profile display shows them the precise loads being imposed on their engines, giving them a measure of control over the maintenance intervals.
A flexible, scalable system
Chief Engineer Branco Susanic sits in his chair on the bridge, looking at the monitor which is running the EHMS. Like the skipper, he is able to access live data from mtu NautIQ Foresight at any time. Nautical information, current performance figures on each engine, and up-coming scheduled 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 Susanic. “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.” For example, he has already had sensors installed for vibration control as well as for keeping tabs on the quality of his engine oil. “By specifying minimum and maximum values we can detect irregularities early on,” explains the chief engineer.
Creating real added value for customers
mtu 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. “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 called mtu NautIQ CoOperate enables tugboat skippers, say, 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 growing our expertise as a solution provider, creating real added value for our customers,” explains Bart Kowalinski who is responsible for the mtu NautIQ Foresight marine automation solution at Rolls-Royce.
Integrating components from other manufacturers
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 shore where people such as the fleet manager and the chief technical officer can use it whenever they need to. Aboard the Halunder Jet, components from other manufacturers are already included, such as ZF gearboxes and Volvo Penta generators.
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.” Erdtmann is responsible for a current fleet of 72 vessels around the globe 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. Branco Susanic 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.