Remote monitoring link to fuel efficiency

Anticipating the maintenance of equipment on board ships in order to increase fuel efficiency could be a “real game changer in the future,” says Andreas Zito, chief technical officer of the V.Ships group of companies.

Condition-based maintenance, through remote monitoring, is usually considered a way to prolong intervals between maintenance. Now engineers are discovering a correlation between maintenance and fuel efficiency. The idea is to anticipate maintenance in a way that will increase fuel efficiency.

“It’s a pretty novel concept,” says Zito, whose company is working with universities and manufacturers in this area. “We are doing some trials and testing, developing some systems. It’s all still at the research and development stage because it’s quite a novelty. But in the future, we may be able to offer something to others.”

The research involves using data to develop “self-learning tools” that can adapt to and indicate trends for maintenance and fuel efficiency. Zito stresses that, since his company is a service provider, “we don’t directly control the asset. So we can’t dictate what systems are installed on a vessel. 

Next big step

“We’re not a manufacturer, so we need to team up with manufacturers. But what we can bring to the table is a lot of know-how about operations. And that’s quite a good mix because our knowledge of what is important and how to link it to various information is vast.”

Zito believes the future of ship management is more integrated decision-making support, both on board and ashore, through remote monitoring. Data analysis and data filtering is the way forward, he adds. “It’s my firm belief that to manage ships effectively, there will be a lot of support from remote monitoring, remote diagnostics and condition-based maintenance.”

Decision-making support in the form of programs for captains and officers in emergency situations, such as the evacuation of passenger vessels or progressive flooding, already exist. But, according to Zito, more integrated decision-making support for the management of vessels is the “next big step.”

“Ships are no longer insulated from the world, so you can efficiently collect data onboard and transmit it ashore. However, what is missing – and what I think the industry will develop – is expert systems able to filter the data and indicate trends. All the data is useless if we can’t interpret and filter it,” concludes Zito.
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