Wallem and AO Schiffahrt uses FluidScan for Shipboard Condition Monitoring - Case study

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Courtesy of Spectro Scientific

With depressed freight rates and overcapacity of shipping on lucrative trade routes, most shipping companies across the world are now practicing 'slow steaming' operations. Operating the main 'two-stroke' engines at 40-60% of their nominal output results in dramatically lower fuel costs but at high risk of cylinder cold corrosion if lubrication is not carefully managed. Adding to the complexity is the recent expansion of low sulfur emission control areas (SECA) on the most profitable trade routes, requiring ship operators to switch over to low sulfur fuels in these zones. These business and operational variations are driving ship owners and operators to look for technologies that can keep pace with change and provide more insight to the engine lubrication conditions.

Wartsila and other engine manufacturers stress the need for more regular piston underside inspections and the need to measure the residual BN frequently to optimize cylinder feed rates and avoid cold corrosion. The Wartsila Two-stroke Services Team (Winterthur. Switzerland) recently released a new technical bulletin, RT-161 with updated requirements concerning cylinder lubrication management and new guidelines on shipboard condition monitoring in the current operating climate.

Ship operators such as Wallem Ship Management {Hamburg. Germany) deal with this challenging business and its environment and are employing new tools to monitor the changing lubrication conditions on board. The goal is simple -find ways to maintain and improve ship reliability while keeping costs under control.

'Implementation of ultra-low sulfur fuels changed most engine manufacturers' recommendations concerning engine performance parameters as well as cylinder lubrication and corrosion control techniques,' says Tomasz Placzek, Technical Superintendent for Wallem. 'Today operators are more focused on daily monitoring of drained oil piston undersides and from stuffing boxes. Measuring base number together with other parameters helps to define cylinder lubrication actual feed rate and inlet base number of the lubricant in use.'

Cylinder oil remains expensive and applying the right amount at the right time is the ship's goal. In todays market, prices of new cylinder oil can range from $1300 to $2500 per tonne. A ship powered with a 12 cylinder engine may easily consume 300 tonnes of cylinder lube oil per annum. Over lubrication (a conservative approach to prevent cylinder corrosion and scuffing) can cost ship managers and owners over US $100.000 per year, per ship in lubricant costs - a number that can be trimmed with closer BN monitoring to calibrated feed rates.

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