2016_1 keep the ships sailing out of africa master

Keeping the ships sailing out of Africa

Digitalisation is now a fundamental tool for improving efficiency in the marine services sector. With new products to analyse and make sense of the tidal wave of information, Wärtsilä can now help customers all over the world – including a growing presence in Africa – better manage and maintain their fleets.

Text: PAUL CONNOLLY Photo: WÄRTSILÄ

The advent of big data is transforming all industries.But all that information is worthless to the marine services industry if the data cannot be used to improve the performance or reliability of a ship.

The most important element of the whole process is not the data itself or even the software used to analyse it. It is the analysis by experts to produce intelligence that can have a positive impact on operations.

Simon Auseth, General Manager, Business Development, Marine Agreements for Wärtsilä, outlines how the fruits of digitalisation can benefit a Wärtsilä customer.

“If they discover something that's wrong with their engine, and they need help, previously they would have had to contact Wärtsilä, and we would have to send experts onboard to fix the problem. This was quite costly and slow. Now, using cutting edge technology, we can interrogate their system and offer immediate help. This is new and drives cost savings, and the reliability it provides helps the customer sleep better at night.”

Wärtsilä is at the forefront of the use of smart technology to minimise the risk of disruptions to operations. And it’s just won its first marine maintenance contract in Africa, signing a five-year maintenance agreement with Bonny Gas Transport Limited (BGT), a subsidiary of Nigeria LNG Limited.

Wärtsilä will monitor and service the engines on board BGT’s six new LNG carriers and deliver spare parts, as well as provide expertise for inspections and major service overhauls.

The contract marks the beginning of a new era of cooperation between Wärtsilä and BGT and is the first of its kind for Wärtsilä in Africa.

Nigeria LNG Limited exports most of its cargo to the European and Asian markets. The six LNG carriers are equipped with five Wärtsilä 50DF engines each and operate primarily on gas.

The agreement is also the first to apply Wärtsilä’s Data Acquisition System, part of Wärtsilä’s Genius services, a tool that seizes the opportunities that digitalisation offers and helps customers optimise their operations. The system provides real-time access to and analysis of data, both onboard and ashore at Wärtsilä’s Expert Support Centre.

With this system, sensors on all the engines monitor their performance 24/7/365 to enable Wärtsilä to do predictive and proactive maintenance work. But this digitalisation also means that Wärtsilä is able to provide remote support.

As Simon Auseth explains, “It’s almost like when you call a help centre for your IT problems at home or work. They can log into your computer remotely, and they can help you. That's the sort of service we are offering – immediate service from our experts sitting in Wärtsilä’s Expert Support Centre.”

This maintenance contract is part of the Wärtsilä’s Lifecycle Solutions suite of services, which are based on Dynamic Maintenance Planning (DMPTM). “DMP means we actually carry out the overall maintenance work when it's needed, rather than according to running hours,” says Auseth.“This means we don't necessarily follow a set maintenance schedule.This approach guarantees the operational reliability, performance and uptime of a customer’s assets.”

The goal of this optimised maintenance and remote operational and technical support is maximised uptime. Then, adds Auseth, “Through condition monitoring and audits, together with performance improvement plans, higher asset availability and reliability are achieved.”

The improved and maintained ship efficiency, operational reliability and maximised uptime that Wärtsilä’s Lifecycle Solutions provide lead to savings in operational costs. Customers gain both cost predictability and performance guarantees.

With all the potential benefits of such a contract, expectations are high.

According to Auseth, “It's a big agreement and the first one in Africa and, of course, very high on their agenda is availability. Meaning that they don't want disruptions and breakdowns, because these carriers will carry gas from Nigeria around the globe. We are now installing an automatic measuring system where we can actually measure their availability. So the KPI is to have enough power at all times - and if we don't deliver, there are financial consequences.”

And Wärtsilä is gearing up for more growth in Africa.

“We are also hoping, of course, for some similar customers,” says Auseth. “Perhaps some LNG vessels but also across the marine sector as a whole in Africa. We're working hard, and there are a lot of potential customers out there. We already have some big prospects that we're working on.”

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