Are your Seven Cs on course for smooth sailing or heavy weather?

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To help marine operators meet the challenges they face in areas such as environmental compliance, profitability and a growing skills shortage, we are looking at the “Seven C’s” of Cleaner emissions, controlling engine performance, coastal protection, cost of ownership, custody transfer, compliance and connected technology.

In this blog, we explain how using the latest measurement technology can improve performance, reduce cost, meet legislation and safeguard the oceans.

The marine industry is heading for rough water as it tries to navigate the challenges in its path over the next few years. Growing legislation to protect the environment, rising operational costs and a global shortage of labour all threaten to affect profitability.

Protecting the seas is in everyone’s interest – as the life blood of the planet, it’s no surprise that stricter protections are being put in place to cut emissions and CO2 production. With shipping currently representing a major source of pollution to air and water, regulations are focusing on encouraging the marine sector to find ways to minimize its environmental footprint.

For shipping companies, there is the added need to balance the introduction of any measures against costs in order to remain profitable. Keeping fuel costs under control, cutting maintenance costs by maximising availability and safety and improving technical management while keeping staff costs low are all on the to-do list of shipping operators.

And with a shortfall of 300,000 seafarers by 2050, how will marine operators keep ships earning? Many are looking to tackle the challenge by reducing complexity and making life easier for staff with equipment that is more straightforward to use and with services that make use of onshore experts.

Rule your own Seven Cs

As with any industry, improving things starts with measuring. For the marine industry, we can talk of ‘Seven Cs’, the vital components that will help ship operators keep on a steady course to profitability and efficiency.

These Seven Cs are cleaner emissions, controlling engine performance, coastal protection, cost of ownership, custody transfer, compliance and connected technology. Getting these interdependent issues right by getting accurate data on what is happening is the key to meeting the challenges the industry faces.


  • Cleaner emissions

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), has introduced regulations to prevent air pollution from vessels both globally and within designated sea areas, known as Emission Control Areas (ECAs). This makes monitoring these emissions from ships vital for operators.

ABB can help here with its CEMcaptain, an analyzer system that continuously measures both sulphur dioxide (SO2) and CO2.  Designed for the toughest conditions, it achieves over 98 percent uptime, cutting maintenance effort and helping ensure continued compliance.


  • Controlling engine performance

Keeping combustion in the right ballpark is key to minimizing emissions and getting the best out of the ship’s engine. Cutting speed from 27 knots to 18 knots can cut fuel consumption by 59 percent – yet running at reduced speed also eats into engine and propeller performance.

Can these two be reconciled?

ABB can help here with its Cylmate solution, a continuous engine pressure monitoring system that assesses engine performance, flagging up any deviations. Constant monitoring helps optimize engine performance, improving efficiency and reducing fuel consumption. Rapid identification of faults means you spend less time finding and fixing problems, allowing you to take the right action to prevent them.

  • Coastal protection

Invasive species getting into local waters through ships discharging ballast water is a serious issue and one that the MARPOL regulations are designed to combat. Under the Ballast Water Management Plan, operators must manage both the quality and quantity of their ballast water discharges and account for scrubber sludge as well – the US can fine ship owners over $38,000 for discharging ballast without such a plan in place.

An effective ballast water control system requires equipment that can meet these obligations and ensure that the required standards are met. ABB provides a number of the elements that are needed for ballast water systems. 

Keeping a check on the amount of ballast needs a flow meter, but traditional designs are affected by mussels and sand. ABB’s ProcessMaster is resilient and robust and with no moving parts, it is unaffected by debris and particles in the water, while ABB’s RVG200 touchscreen data recorder can record the details of ballast and bilge water discharges. A range of water analysers for measuring key parameters such as pH, conductivity and turbidity help to ensure that the water being discharged has been properly treated to ensure that water quality levels are within permitted limits.

Throughout the discharge process, ABB’s TZID-C valve positioners, actuators and 266 series pressure transmitters also help to ensure that water is pumped to where it needs to be and that ballast levels are correctly maintained to optimize the ship’s trim.

  • Cost of ownership

With fuel accounting for up to 60 percent of a ship’s running costs, running engines at maximum efficiency is vital to maintain profitability. Efficiency is measured in terms of Specific Fuel Oil Consumption (SFOC), the mass of fuel consumed per unit time to produce per KW.

The SFOC is calculated via the Torductor torque sensor, a contactless device used to measure a ship’s propulsion power. Able to be mounted facing the propeller shaft with a gap of approximately 1.5 mm, the Torductor provides information about the shaft torque, speed, power and delivered energy, with no moving parts that could fail or affect the measurement.

This data is combined with readings of the fuel mass gathered using ABB’s CoriolisMaster mass flowmeters to calculate the vessel’s SFOC. With energy directly related to the mass of the fuel, the high accuracy of the CoriolisMaster can help ensure that fuel consumption is kept under tight control.

Compact and with no moving parts, both the Torductor and CoriolisMaster devices can be readily retrofitted to a ship’s propulsion system.

  • Custody transfer

Getting what you pay for is always a priority for any business and with marine fuel costs rising, it’s more important than ever that ship operators get the quality and quantity of fuel they need. Mismeasurement of fuel quantifies can result from the cappuccino effect, where air blown through the fuel hose can cause frothing, leading to fuel level reading errors that make it seem that the tanks are full when they aren’t - the result is paying for fuel you haven’t received.

The answer is to use a flow meter that measures the mass of the fuel rather than its volume. Just such a meter is ABB’s CoriolisMaster mass flowmeter. Accurate, reliable and easy to install and use, the CoriolisMaster can be combined with ABB flow computers such as ABB’s Flow-X. Designed specifically for custody transfer applications, the Flow-X connects to flow meters, temperature, pressure and density transmitters and chromatographs to accurately calculate volume at standard conditions, removing any scope for mismeasurements that could result in fuelling errors.

  • Connected technology

A ship at sea is the very definition of ‘remote’. This makes it difficult to get the expert support needed to keep ships operating at peak performance and ensure maintenance is timely and effective.

With a growing amount of digital data available from onboard analysers, digital service technologies are evolving to use this and offer new possibilities for remote support.

Available in variety of formats, this anytime, anywhere support ensures vessels can continue to operate and remain compliant with regulations.

This is ideal for the marine industry, where vessels may need assistance when they are still hundreds of miles away from the nearest port. It’s also a big help when it comes to the skills shortage, where there may not be sufficient skilled engineers, either on board a ship or at ports. An example is the ABB Ability™ Remote Insights for service tool. The tool uses a combination of live instruction and guidance overlaid on live video using augmented reality technology to remotely connect customers to an ABB technical expert who can talk them through their problem and advise on a solution. In instances where poor internet coverage may make it difficult to establish a live connection, there is also the option of using ABB’s My Measurement Assistant self-service app tool. With guided tutorials and checklists, plus commissioning & troubleshooting guidance, My Measurement Assistant provides a handy tool that can be used to provide assistance in the absence of on-shore support.

ABB Measurement and Analytics will be taking a more in-depth look at these challenges and the solutions to them in a series of TechTalks later this year. You can catch our webinar introducing the Seven 7Cs here

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