System health management boosts intelligence of Chinese polar research vessel

The Xue Long 2 (XL2) polar research ship (H2560) is the first independently built polar research icebreaker in China. It is one of the most advanced polar research icebreakers in the world, and also the first intelligent ship in the world achieving China Classification Society (CCS) intelligent notations.

Steven-Yong Li

CN LPG AC R&D Manager, ABB Marine & Ports China

Evan-Fei E

CN LPG AC General Manager, ABB Marine & Ports China

The delivery of the ship not only filled in the blank of major Chinese equipment supply in the field of polar scientific research, but also marked a breakthrough in field support and support capacity of China's polar research, as well as a milestone in the development of ship intelligence. XL2 was selected as one of the top 10 Chinese significant country projects in 2018. ABB Marine & Port China provided the ‘electric propulsion health management system’ for XL2. As the core component of vessel’s intelligent engine room, the system helps the ship to realize intelligent power and propulsion equipment operation monitoring, diagnosis and maintenance advice.

The polar research vessels Xue Long 1 and 2
The polar research vessels Xue Long 1 and 2

Advancement and intelligence proposition

As one of the world’s most advanced polar research vessels, XL2 was designed to perform demanding work in global non-restricted waters, such as polar scientific research, polar supply and ice region rescue.

Advanced vessel power and propulsion system

To meet the tough operational demands, XL2’s power and propulsion system has the following characteristics:

  • Double-ended ice-breaking capability
  • PC3 level ice breaking capability to navigate at 2-3 kn in ice regions with 1.5 meter ice
  • 360 degree fixed-point rotation

In acknowledgement of their good reputation and leading technology and products, ABB Marine was selected to supply the whole power and propulsion system package for XL2. The scope includes

  • 4*MVDG + 2*transformer + MVSB
  • 2*(Azipod® VI propulsion + 24p converter + 2*transformer)
  • 2*BT

Operational intelligence

Besides advanced power and propulsion equipment, the owner also had enhanced requirements to further guarantee the operational safety and reliability of the vessel and onboard equipment:

  • Real time on board and on shore monitoring and assessing of main power and propulsion equipment
  • Timely technology support and maintenance advice from suppliers
  • All machinery data managed in an integrated platform
  • Applying for the CCS’s intelligent engine room and integrated platform approvals and acquiring the i-Ship (M) and i-Ship (I) notations
  • Minimizing environmental impact

Health management system

To help the owner realize intelligent operations, ABB Marine presented the Health Management System (HMS) solution based on its dedicated cutting-edge remote diagnosis and assessment technologies and products.

System architecture

The HMS is composed of remote diagnosis system and Asset Optimizer.

Its structure can be divided into four levels:

  • On shore operation – ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operations Center
  • Onboard comprehensive user station – Integrated platform/ ABB Ability™ Remote Diagnostics System UI & AO
  • Field data process station – ABB Ability™ Remote Diagnostics System cabinets
  • Field data acquisition station – DAUs & sensors

Its functional scope covers:

  • Propulsion drive
  • MV switchboard
  • Azipod® propulsion
  • Main machines, including generators and thruster motors

System functionality

HMS has two classes of functionality: basic conditions monitoring and enhanced conditions assessment.

  • Basic functions:
  1. Condition monitoring onboard
  2. Failures detection and alarm onboard
  • Enhanced functions:
  1. Condition grade assessment
  2. Failures causes analysis
  3. Failure treatment advice
  4. Periodical comprehensive health status report
  5. Condition-based maintenance advice
  6. On shore remote condition tracking
  7. On shore remote support

Verified by the initial voyage to the South Pole

From October 2019 to April 2020, XL2 performed its first polar research task, together with XL1. The voyage covered around 35,000 kilometers, of which about 5000 kilometers were in ice areas. During the voyage, XL2 carried out long term ice-breaking navigation and multiple polar scientific research operations. The HMS effectively assisted the operators of XL2, both on board and ashore, in accomplishing the relevant machine condition monitoring, critical data recording, status analysis and assessment in diverse operational profiles. The performance of the HMS earned the praise of the customer.

The success of the voyage not only further verified the reliability and performance of ABB products and the intelligent solution’s validity, but also pioneered intelligent electric propulsion, and consolidated the industry-leading position of ABB’s digital solutions and products.


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