Wärtsilä Expertise Centres use the unique combination of big data, analytics, and human expertise to bring value to its marine customers. From preventing problems to providing solutions that improve performance, the centres are a force to reckon with. Read on to see what are its other prominent features.
Vessels travelling at sea need to achieve optimal operations, by preventing problems rather than solving them as they occur. That is why Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres like the one in Vaasa, Finland, play a critical role in bringing value to marine customers with Wärtsilä’s lifecycle solutions. By providing performance guarantees, optimising maintenance and thereby operations, the Expertise Centres help customers avoid and address unforeseen operational and technical events. This will save money, extend the life of their engines, and minimise the impacts to the business.
“We support our customers in the most effective way possible, both on the operations side and in maintenance, quality and safety,” says Erik Ristiluoma, General Manager, Maintenance and Operations Management.
At its Expertise Centres, Wärtsilä facilitates different kinds of service levels to its customers through a collaboration between the company’s contract managers, data scientists, maintenance planners, and remote supporters. “Especially for LNG customers, we have proactive guidance and advisory services. Wärtsilä is looking through the data we get from the ships. Big data combined with analytics and human expertise results in optimised ship lifecycle efficiency and improved performance.”
In the Expertise Centre in Vaasa, Wärtsilä’s technicians can connect online to the engine control room of vessels running on LNG, located anywhere in the middle of the ocean, to ensure its top operational and installation performance. The vessels send data daily to the Wärtsilä Expertise Centre, which analyses the results so technicians can help the ship’s chief engineer and crew make the most of their engines, as well as troubleshoot and prevent engine problems from occurring.
“The LNG carriers usually have dual-fuel engines, which are technically more advanced than traditional diesel engines, and we can remotely tune them with the latest solutions provided through the Expertise Centres, taking cyber security solutions into account with our customers,” says Ristiluoma. “We optimise the operational experience for the customer, which improves the availability and reliability of the asset. Moreover, being able to predict equipment condition and service needs minimises unscheduled downtime.”
A key function of the Expertise Centres is the emergency operational support they provide to the hundreds of LNG customer vessels located across the globe. As long as the ship has a satellite signal, it can receive support.
“No matter where the customer is, they will get emergency assistance anytime, anywhere. If something of special competence needs to be done on board, by a high quality engineer, we have them link to the Expertise Centre. These experts often know the ships and the crews, they’re dedicated to their own customers, they know the history of the ship, which makes dealing with the ship smooth,” says Ristiluoma.
Furthermore, Dynamic Maintenance Planning (DMP)—which involves frequently monitoring a vessel’s equipment, making periodic inspections and preventative changes to ensure it is running at optimal condition – enables Wärtsilä to extend the time between engine overhauls, improving equipment availability, and therefore saving time and money. For example, in the case of LNG customers using advanced dual-fuel or tri-fuel engines, the remote technicians at Vaasa ensure vessels’ engines operate on gas as much as possible, since it is the most economic, efficient fuel and can extend the engine overhaul time.
A feature of Expertise Centres is the support they provide customers through engine performance monitoring.
A feature of Expertise Centres is the support they provide customers through engine performance monitoring, says Wärtsilä’s maintenance planner Dimitra Bostantzoglou, based in Athens, Greece. “Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) support owners and users in avoiding engine malfunction, and providing a better interval maintenance and performance of engines, extending major overhauls. At the same time, we are reducing the operational costs for the owners,” she says.
Through CBM, Wärtsilä conducts “a daily follow-up of conditions and calculations of ideal operating parameters, based on engine design type, and analyses the quality of the fuel because this has a big impact on the recommended maintenance intervals.”
Wärtsilä receives data from each engine, which is analysed by the company’s experts. This enables real-time optimisation of the equipment while predicting operational and maintenance demands. At the same time, through the use of different software programs, maintenance managers can monitor vessels’ history data, including its location, arrival and departure dates, running hours and other information, providing them a big picture of operation and maintenance.
“Each component has a lifetime, so we follow each component and offer services and high quality follow-up maintenance,” says Bostantzoglou. “Every month we follow the interval maintenance and we agree with the ship manager on needed measures, since engines are a crucial part of the vessel’s reliability.”
Ship owners have gained tremendously from Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres. “We have constant support,” says Loukas Kavouras, Senior Ship Manager, Fleet Management, for Gaslog, which operates LNG carriers out of Piraeus, Greece. “We had some challenges at the beginning with the dual-fuel engines, and we got help through these support centres, where they caught issues early on and identified signs of premature failings, enabling us to avoid any damages.”
The relationship is also one of collaboration and mutual benefit. “We’ve gained substantial technical experience and we feed this knowledge back to Wärtsilä, and vice versa,” says Kavouras. “The engines are a crucial part of the vessel. Having these centres and rescheduling the maintenance activities to align with the trading commitments of the vessel is of great assistance. We have a win-win situation and we all benefit from this: we provide feedback, and point out issues, and challenges encountered on board, in order for Wärtsilä to consider further adjustments and improvements to components or maintenance activities.”
Ultimately, the role of Expertise Centres is to enhance the lifecycle efficiency of Wärtsilä’s customers’ assets. “The first target,” says Ristiluoma, “is to define the optimal maintenance intervals and, in the end, to ensure the operational and installation performance Wärtsilä is responsible for towards its customers, whose interest, in turn, lies in providing timely services towards their own customers.”