Flattening the cost of turbocharger maintenance

Written by Marine Log Staff
containership stern

[SPONSORED CONTENT]: Significant sums are spent on maintenance every year in all industries but quantifying it is difficult, often leading to subjective decisions about its management.

In a 2018 report from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, economist Douglas Thomas argued that “efficient machinery maintenance methods can mean the difference between a thriving profitable firm and one that loses money and sales”. The analysis included data showing how downtime costs amount to 23.9% of the total cost of manufacturing. “Understanding these costs… can advance the competitiveness of US manufacturers,” he wrote.

Based on the experience of ABB Turbocharging and its customers, the same advice applies equally to the global marine sector. Several customers have a very conventional service relationship with ABB. Whenever parts are needed, a quotation process starts, parts are delivered, invoices sent and money transferred. It is a tried and tested solution, but there are two factors that leave room for improvements.

The first is that an ad hoc service arrangement still leaves the operator with unpredictable cost spikes.

The second is that machinery might run at low efficiency until service is required, with engines burning more fuel than they should or, in the case of breakdowns or emergency maintenance, incurring the dreaded downtime costs noted in the US report.

Smart investments enabled by data insights ensuring high performance and reliable services are important for  Seanergy Maritime. The company has a fleet of 16 capesize dry bulk vessels, mostly carrying iron ore and coal from countries like Brazil and Australia to China and other industrial nations. Clients including major mining corporations and leading operators such as Cargill, Glencore and Anglo-American place repeated, long-term business with Seanergy because of the quality of its ships and the transparency with which it operates.

“The condition of the vessels is something to which we pay considerable attention and keep improving,” says Seanergy Maritime Chief Technical Officer Stelios Psillakis. “Reliability is at the heart of our good relationships with clients. It’s very important to secure trouble-free operations for the vessels.”

Seanergy recently contracted with ABB for a service agreement that helps ensure continued, reliable turbocharger performance across the fleet. The Turbo MarineCare agreement removes a sophisticated piece of machinery from the items a Chief Technical Officer needs to worry about, monitoring for maintenance requirements and providing an extensive five-year warranty that also covers normal wear and tear that may result in turbocharger failures.

“Because these are such large vessels, traveling such long distances, the most important part of the job is to have proactive maintenance and foresee each and every issue that could potentially arise during operations.” Stelios Psillakis concludes. “The Turbo MarineCare service agreement ensures that expert attention is on hand.”

Turbo MarineCare is a comprehensive, data-enabled service agreement tailored specifically for marine customers operating two stroke engine turbochargers. It provides financial predictability with fixed costs for the turbocharger maintenance at drydocks and peace of mind through continuous warranty extending from one drydock to the next.

Turbo MarineCare allows operators to dramatically simplify maintenance regimes. Unanticipated replacement of parts and repairs during drydocks can cause delays, administrative burden and extra cost. Under this service agreement, ABB takes on these risks rather than the shipowner or operator. ABB identifies which parts and service will be required at overhauls and takes responsibility for shipping of parts ahead of drydocking and carrying out the service.

The aim for ship owners is financial predictability. Turbo MarineCare improves transparency by providing operators with a fixed cost for all spare parts, labour, and repairs to wear and tear for all expected and unexpected damage (where the root cause is the turbocharger itself rather than external factors).

These two service concepts cater for slightly different needs – one providing a cost of service per running hour, the other providing a fixed cost for a set duration – but both aim to increase the ability of shipowners to flatten the cost of maintenance across a vessel’s lifecycle. And as with the manufacturers in the U.S. report, vessel owners too can drive increased competitiveness when they take greater control of their maintenance costs.

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