RDS in Newbuilds: Remote monitoring takes the guess work out of performance

Compelling cost benefits accrue to owners who protect their assets from the outset by investing in remote diagnostics technology at the newbuild stage.

Though widely adopted, the Remote Diagnostics Services offered by ABB are mainly delivered to existing vessels. Requests to install such capability as part of the vessel’s specification are the exception rather than the rule.


This appears counter-intuitive, given that the whole point of preventive maintenance is to maintain equipment in its best possible condition. The RDS offered by ABB monitors, measures and alerts to faults on vessel thruster systems, propulsion systems, drilling systems, motors, generations, drives, transformers and switchgears through to protection relays, instrumentation and automation systems. In general terms, the company says RDS can lead to a 25% reduction in maintenance costs.

In fact, arguments for installing remote condition monitoring are even more compelling for owners at the newbuild stage. Baseline data drawing on the service history of critical equipment will deliver immediate and through-life benefits, the company points out.

Immediate response

The benefits of RDS have proved persuasive as a support for operations because skill-sets onboard ships are being faced by increasingly greater technical sophistication.  RDS identifies system anomalies in real-time and logs them centrally in high definition data. This enables the ABB engineers to start fault-tracing immediately after the remote connection is established.

Kenneth Nakken, ABB Global Solutions Manager, Remote Diagnostics Services, says: “The root causes of most technical problems onboard are often very clear, with the benefit of hindsight. But identifying them at the time can be difficult and complex due to a lack of data consistency, or the fact that information is just not available.  

“Using RDS, Jobs are logged and the advisory service usually kicks in within half an hour of an inquiry being made, with a guarantee that a response will be forthcoming within an hour. There is always a technical engineer on duty at the ABB Global Technical Support center, so that the ship’s engineers can be offered guidance as quickly as possible on any technical issue. The approach is also the fastest way to identify root causes, and whether an ABB engineer needs to be dispatched to the ship.”

Benefits from commissioning and beyond

Installation of RDS capability at the time of construction is both the most logical and the most cost-effective moment to commit, he says. “Using RDS, processes throughout commissioning and sea trials can be streamlined. For example, we have systems engineers located in service centers in Oslo or Singapore that can offer commissioning support very quickly based on complete records, drawing on our complete fault-finding capability, but also input from our software specialists should any changes be required. Backing up engineers on the ground enhances their insight and their ability to offer a fully informed response.”

"Using RDS, processes throughout commissioning and sea trials can be streamlined."

The possession of complete historical data is also advantageous when it comes to defining maintenance planning. “For the shipowner, establishing signal signatures at the outset provides a better basis for gathering accurate and reliable data,” says Nakken. “For electrical systems onboard ship, a condition-based maintenance regime based on reliable condition monitoring (CM) data can eradicate or limit Class inspections at the renewal survey stage; this offers cost-saving potential.

Onboard ship, facilitating RDS involves the installation of fiber optic cabling, but Nakken says pre-planning and commissioning at the newbuild stage should result in lower costs than would be the case under retrofitting.

“The segment that has taken fullest advantage of RDS to date has been the LNG carrier and drillship market, where remote locations and the sheer cost of failing to meet a contractual obligation mean that the installation cost is not seen as a major issue,” says Nakken. “Off-hiring a drillship for unscheduled maintenance could lead to considerable revenue losses. A similar amount could be used to have all ABB systems onboard a drillship equipped with RDS capability at newbuild stage.”

Some facts about ABB's Remote Diagnostic Services

  • ABB's Technical Support center is located in Billigstad, Norway, and provides global 24/7 support to vessels.
  • RDS concept comprises of 3 components: remote connection, diagnostic solutions and service agreements.
  • RDS reduces repair time, improves the availability and safety of operation and enables condition monitoring.
  • RDS4Marine is the diagnostic tool used for troubleshooting and condition monitoring of electrical and mechanical systems installed onboard.
  • ABB’s RDS is installed on some 60 vessels globally, with the number of installations steadily increasing


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