Let’s agree to cut emissions

5 min read

22 Apr 2021


Charlie Bass



5 min read

22 Apr 2021


Charlie Bass



In the discussion around decarbonisation, vessel owners and operators are faced with an array of options in terms of fuel-saving hardware and software. But one basic thing is sometimes overlooked: ensuring that the engines themselves are operating as efficiently as possible. Wärtsilä’s range of lifecycle service agreements is designed to offer the right level of service to ensure just that. 


The starting point for optimal engine performance – and therefore minimised emissions – is to make sure that the powertrain is set up to match the vessel’s operating profile. “Your powertrain needs to be optimised and have flexibility built in for the sailing speed your application requires, whether you’re operating a fixed-route A-to-B ferry or a cruise liner or merchant vessel traveling at variable speeds,” explains Henrik Wilhelms, Director, Agreement Sales, Performance Services, Wärtsilä. 

When it comes to optimising engine efficiency, his colleague, Jesper Bonde, Director, Business Innovation, Performance Services, Wärtsilä, is a big fan of David Brailsford's ‘marginal gains’ approach from the world of cycling. When applied to the maritime world, this philosophy translates into lots of small improvements that can add up to a substantial fuel saving – and therefore emission reduction.


Data is knowledge is power

As in cycling, the key to identifying these opportunities in marine assets is data. Data collection and expert analysis has an increasingly important role in helping to reduce a vessel’s overall carbon emissions. “Every single component has a part to play; exchanging a filter or cleaning an air cooler at the right time can help to cut fuel consumption, and therefore emissions, by something like 2%, but we need data to know when that time is,” Wilhelms points out. “On the other hand, we can also recommend when it’s safe to not replace a component or perform an overhaul because we know that everything is working fine; this saves the costs and carbon emissions associated with manufacturing, shipping and fitting parts unnecessarily.”

With accurate engine data available, many common operational issues – for example an engine not starting or operating at sub-optimal efficiency – can be solved remotely via Wärtsilä’s collaboration applications. In these cases, Wärtsilä’s Operational Support experts on how to troubleshoot and resolve these issues. Bonde points out that this also plays a part in enabling more sustainable operations. “Remote support eliminates the need for anyone to travel – no labour needs to be mobilised and issues are resolved more quickly for the customer, so it’s a win-win.” 


Three kinds of agreement, one goal

Wärtsilä lifecycle service agreements are available with varying levels of support depending on the customer’s needs, but all are based on solid, actionable data. With Wärtsilä Enhanced Support, customers benefit from better, faster support from Wärtsilä experts based on operational data gathered from their engines. Using this data Wärtsilä can also help to forecast when parts will be needed and schedule maintenance activities to support improved maintenance planning. “With Enhanced Support we are helping customers to visualise the data so they can monitor the status, condition and performance of their vessel’s engines. This helps the crew to maintain and operate their engines more efficiently and therefore more sustainably,” says Wilhelms. 

Wärtsilä Optimised Maintenance takes things further with continuous proactive support and recommendations from experts in Wärtsilä Expertise Centres. This approach improves long-term cost predictability and asset availability by planning and scheduling maintenance procedures according to the customer’s business operations. 

“An Optimised Maintenance agreement typically includes our Expert Insight service, which uses artificial intelligence and advanced diagnostics to take predictive maintenance to the next level,” explains Bonde. “Any anomalies are flagged and followed up, and the customer gets actionable advice and recommendations from experts who know their assets and the vessel’s operational profile inside out. Expert Insight uses a combination of rule-based and AI analysis techniques to identify potential issues with an engine. “By comparing data across, say, several cylinders we can more easily say whether a slight deviation in one indicates a potential problem well before reaching the level when an alarm would normally be raised,” Bonde says. “Again, it’s often about marginal gains, small changes that can have a big impact not only in terms of uptime but also in terms of optimising engines to reduce fuel consumption and therefore emissions.” 

A Guaranteed Asset Performance agreement contains all the elements of Enhanced Support and Optimised Maintenance, but also includes mutually agreed performance targets based on the customer’s business needs. The measurable indicators can include, for example, availability, emissions and fuel consumption, with Wärtsilä guaranteeing that these targets are reached and maintained.

Wärtsilä’s partnership with cruise operator Carnival is one example of how focusing on specific performance targets for a customer pays off. It is also a great example of a business model based on a behavioural change – exactly the kind of change that is needed on the journey to decarbonisation. And it is data that enables this change in behaviour – without it you would not be able to measure anything or prove the worth of the agreement.

“With Guaranteed Asset Performance we are changing the business model so both parties have skin in the game to reach a joint target. Performance monitoring and data-driven analysis provide the needed transparency and insights,” says Bonde. “Because we guarantee performance levels across the fleet for efficiency and reliability, fuel savings and emissions reductions are predictable and unplanned maintenance costs are minimised for the customer. With this kind of agreement, we both have an interest in cutting fuel consumption and therefore emissions.”


Refined, actionable data only

What sets a Wärtsilä Optimised Maintenance agreement apart from competitors’ offerings is that Wärtsilä takes on the role of in-house expert and problem solver on the customer’s behalf. The goal is to use refined data to provide valuable insights and actionable recommendations. “Rather than gathering a bunch of data, dumping it into the customer’s lap and saying ‘You have a problem’, we analyse the data to see if there really is a potential issue brewing, liaise with the customer to advise on how best to tackle it and stay on the case until everything is resolved to their satisfaction,” Wilhelms explains. 

“This three-layered combination of rule-based limits, anomaly detection and human expertise is what keeps our customers’ assets not just up and running but running in a way that contributes to rather than takes away from the overall decarbonisation efforts of the vessel and its owners.”

- Henrik Wilhelms, Director, Agreement Sales, Performance Services, Wärtsilä

Read more about Wärtsilä lifecycle service agreements and see which one is best for you:

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