When Canadian ferry operator Société des Traversiers du Quebec (STQ) was seeking to enhance reliability, optimise maintenance and ensure efficient performance for its fleet, it turned to Wärtsilä. Three of its vessels are now covered by a five-year Wärtsilä Optimised Maintenance Agreement, which employs equipment data insights, real-time operational support and data-driven dynamic maintenance planning to provide STQ with the operational certainty they need.
Ensure long-term reliability of three ferry vessels plying routes that are a critical part of the transportation infrastructure along the St. Lawrence River
Wärtsilä Optimised Maintenance Agreement including Wärtsilä Expert Insight and Data-Driven Dynamic Maintenance Planning
Customer can take their hands off the wheel and rely on Wärtsilä to manage all aspects of equipment maintenance, providing operational certainty and delivering cost savings and efficiency improvements
Quebec’s ferries are interwoven into the province’s rich history and provide vital links between communities along the St. Lawrence River, an often-unforgiving environment typified by challenging tides, harsh winds and icy conditions. STQ’s vessels ply a multitude of routes along the river, carrying passengers, vehicles and freight safely from shore to shore. The company operates a fleet of 19 ferries of various sizes and types.
“STQs services are of critical importance to the economy and communities of the province,” says Pieter Groot, Account Manager, Wärtsilä. “The ferry routes are critical because they are essentially extensions of the road network, so ensuring that the vessels plying them can operate reliably is of the utmost importance.”
STQ was seeking a hands-off approach where they could entrust all aspects of equipment maintenance execution and management to an expert partner. As the OEM for the engines and a selection of other systems onboard three of its vessels – the MV F.A.
Gauthier, the MV Armand-Imbeau II and the MV Jos-Deschênes II – Wärtsilä was the natural choice.
The F.A. Gauthier, a 133-metre Ro-Ro ferry with capacity for 800 passengers and 180 vehicles, is powered by four Wartsila 34DF main engines and has been covered by a Wärtsilä Optimised Maintenance Agreement (OMA) since March 2016. The success
of the agreement led STQ to conclude similar agreements for the Armand-Imbeau II and the Jos-Deschênes II in October 2021, which are smaller end-to-end ferries powered by four Wärtsilä 20DF main engines.
“The OMA agreements cover the main engines, the gas valve units and the Wärtsilä LNGPac fuel gas supply system and controls,” explains Cole Lowder, Agreement Sales Manager, Wärtsilä.
“The level of support we can provide under an OMA was of particular interest to STQ because of their relative unfamiliarity with LNG and the related equipment and systems, which is an area where Wärtsilä has vast experience as an OEM,” highlights Sanjay Katote, Contract Manager, Wärtsilä. His role is to act as the primary interface between STQ and Wärtsilä, continuously fine-tuning all aspects of the long-term agreements to make sure it meets STQ’s needs precisely for the duration of the contract.
Under the OMA, STQ benefits from an optimised maintenance programme that focuses on maintaining the engines and other equipment according to actual condition rather than following a rigid schedule based on running hours. Wärtsilä manages the entire process under a structure that delivers cost predictability and long-term savings for the customer.
“First and foremost, the goal is to ensure that all three vessels can operate reliably. The critical nature of the services that STQ provides and the challenging environments that their vessels operate in means that taking a vessel out of operation can have significant implications for businesses and communities in the province. This is why an OMA was ideal for their needs, because we are there 24/7 to provide support,” Katote explains.
The OMA scope for the three vessels includes Wärtsilä’s Expert Insight and Data-Driven Dynamic Maintenance Planning (Data-Driven DMP) solutions. Expert Insight uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence and advanced diagnostics to help vessel owners improve asset efficiency and reduce operating costs and emissions. With the help of a Wärtsilä expert, the service spots and addresses smaller problems before they can develop into major issues that result in costly downtime.
Data-Driven Dynamic Maintenance Planning applies a condition-based approach to maintenance rather than adhering to a fixed overhaul schedule based on logged running hours and infrequent reporting. With Wärtsilä experts monitoring all critical engine parameters in real time it’s possible to extend the time between overhauls – if the data shows that everything is in order – and eliminate the need for some time-consuming, often costly, intermediate inspections.
”Delivering support in this way, through remote monitoring and advanced digital tools, means we can be there whenever the customer needs us, often without having to visit one of the vessels,” explains Groot. “Whenever we spot something abnormal the customer is notified immediately and consults one of our experts for support in investigating and resolving potential issues.”
The OMAs for the F.A. Gauthier, the Armand-Imbeau II and the Jos-Deschênes II represent the evolution of an already rock-solid relationship between the two organisations, where there have been plenty of valuable lessons learned. “This kind of agreement was a completely new ball game for STQ, so we have worked hand in hand to help them understand how it plays out in practice and how to maximise the benefits,” says Lowder.
Groot continues by emphasising that the relationship has gone from strength to strength thanks to open, honest dialogue and clear communication. “Beyond the fact that they can focus solely on their core business and leave all aspects of maintenance to us, one of the biggest advantages for STQ with the OMA is that things are not set in stone. We are constantly listening, guiding and fine tuning these ‘living’ agreements to ensure the best possible outcome.”
The Wärtsilä agreements deliver the operational certainty that is essential for ferry service providers. Equipment reliability is enhanced, maintenance is optimised and efficient performance is assured – all of which enable cost savings over the long term.Luc Morneau, Director of Marine Operations, Société des Traversiers du Quebec