STORY Commercial Marine

ECHO sets sail

Posted on May 20, 2021 by Rolf Behrens, Images by FRS

An mtu EHM system monitors the entire propulsion system of the “Halunder Jet” – helping to reduce downtime and protect the climate.
Helgoland, Germany
The year 2021 is special for the shipping company FRS Helgoline and its “Halunder Jet” in several respects: the high-speed catamaran finally resumed its passenger service between Hamburg and the island of Helgoland on 20 May after an extended winter break due to Corona. For the first time, a new system is on board that provides the vessel’s operator with all important data on the condition of the entire propulsion system in real time: It is called ECHO and is a novel Equipment Health Management System (EHMS) jointly developed by the partners FRS, Rolls-Royce Power Systems and MAC System Solutions.

The “Halunder Jet” is the first test vessel for this innovative system, which is intended to ensure maximum availability of the ship and make an important contribution to reducing fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions.

Most important goals: maximum availability and climate protection

“The reliability of our ships is of crucial importance to us,” explains Tim Kunstmann, Managing Director of FRS Helgoline. “Our customers expect us to bring them to Helgoland and back reliably and on time, even in the most difficult weather conditions.” Climate protection is also at the centre of the company’s considerations: “We want to save resources as much as possible and reduce our emissions,” says Kunstmann.

ECHO is to play an important role in this by, on the one hand, reducing or completely avoiding downtimes of the “Halunder Jet” and, on the other hand, helping to ensure that the complete propulsion system is used as efficiently as possible. The basis is the permanent monitoring of the complete propulsion system from the mtu engines to the gearboxes to the waterjets – and above all the evaluation of this data and the display of the relevant results in real time.

This is made possible by close cooperation with the data analysis specialists from MAC System Solutions. “Collecting and analysing data is basically nothing special these days,” explains Goran Berkes, founder and director of the company which has been collecting and analysing data on several hundred ships for years. “What's important is that you collect the right data and analyse it with the right methods – only then will there be added value for the customer.”

Solutions from a single source from the bridge to the propeller

For Rolls-Royce Power Systems, the project is an important milestone in the PS 2030 strategy, with which the company is transforming into a provider of integrated sustainable propulsion solutions: “Our goal is to provide marine customers with solutions from bridge to propeller from a single source,” explains Bart Kowalinski, EHMS expert at Rolls-Royce. "With ECHO, we are delivering for the first time an electronic monitoring system that analyses the condition of a ship’s entire propulsion system and potentially an entire fleet in real time. It doesn’t matter which manufacturer the propulsion components come from.”

ECHO is now being tested on board the “Halunder Jet” and will be permanently adapted, expanded and improved in close coordination between the project partners. After the successful pilot, the goal is to be able to map the state of health of entire fleets of ships in real time – and thus make their use even more reliable and climate-friendly.

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