Condition monitoring offers cost-cutting potential at sea

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Sensors record baseline data on board ship for weekly remote analysis, enabling reliable servicing and maintenance scheduling for Chief Engineers at sea

Condition monitoring offers cost-cutting potential at seaSKF has created a preventative maintenance programme for the BP Shipping fleet that has the potential to cut costs and decrease maintenance. The detailed maintenance management programme enables a range of benefits, from optimising engine management to cutting maintenance costs and demands on manpower. The innovative system of monitoring and reporting, devised and managed by SKF, enables on-board engineers to perform maintenance and replace components by providing specific data as to which tasks need to be performed and when.

BP Shipping currently maintains a fleet of 53 vessels, transporting a range of products from crude oil to aviation fuel. At the beginning of the project, SKF engineers visited each of the vessels to examine critical machinery and identify which units should be regularly monitored, and subsequently applied measurement studs to each machine. Sensors were then attached to the studs to enable the recording of baseline data, enabling SKF engineers to produce a precisely detailed report for each vessel on the current condition of the machinery.

The next stage of the project was to provide basic on-board training for the Chief Engineer of each vessel in the use of a hand-held computer to collect data from the machines. This enabled the vessel’s engineers to collect vibration data from equipment, including diesel generators, turbochargers, gearboxes, pumps, fans, motors and turbines. The information was then downloaded to a condition monitoring database on the ship’s server before being automatically sent electronically to SKF for remote analysis.

Back on dry land, SKF acknowledged receipt and conducted detailed analysis of the data on a weekly basis, sending reports and recommendations back to each Chief Engineer along with any necessary reminders when new data sets were due. This equipped the Chief Engineer with a precise and valuable data record, enabling the vessel’s engineers to prioritise their work schedule and thereby increase efficiency. On a monthly basis, an automated programme interrogated the condition monitoring database and determined which machines were to be monitored during the following month. The feedback from SKF also generated a work order in the vessel’s maintenance management system, ensuring that each Chief Engineer was aware of all current issues when scheduling maintenance. This service aids reliability of the BP Shipping fleet by keeping their many vessels at sea and operating at maximum performance.

Comprehensive reporting

Having conducted the analyses, SKF generates a status report for the Chief Engineer detailing action that needs to be taken. The comprehensive report clearly lists the name of each machine, its ID and condition, the date on which data was last collected, the most recent date on which that data was analysed and whether the unit is classified as being ‘in alarm’; i.e. in need of urgent attention. The Chief Engineer can then request further analysis and add any comments on equipment behaviours before returning the report to SKF.

SKF initially took on the task of supporting the fleet for three years, which has now been doubled in duration to six years, an endorsement that underlines SKF’s potential to provide asset efficiency optimisation for the marine sector. For further information about the SKF’s maintenance management programme, visit the website at

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