New control system makes cargo offloading faster and easier

Written by Nick Blenkey
Checking cargo pumping operations

Image: Svanehøj

Following a successful test on the product and chemical tanker Fure Ven, Danish deepwell pump specialist Svanehøj is launching “FlowControl.” This newly developed software-based control system automates the control of electric cargo pumps on tankers. The system ensures an optimal changeover between tanks and pumps in parallel, reducing the time needed for cargo discharge by up to 20% since the system will automatically operate at the optimal duty point. It allows the operator to take full control of the pumps, simplifying the entire cargo discharge operation—without installing any additional hardware.

“It is well known that electric cargo pumps weigh less, make less noise and use significantly less power than hydraulic cargo pumps. Yet most product and chemical tankers tankers have hydraulic pumps installed because electric pumps are different to operate, and in some modes of operation a bit more challenging,” says Johnny Houmann, Director, Sales & Projects at Svanehøj. “FlowControl is changing that, and our intention is to encourage more shipowners to choose the more environmentally friendly solution


In recent months, Svanehøj has been testing FlowControl in collaboration with the Swedish shipping company Furetank on board Fure Ven. The first foreign-flag vessel to bunker LNG in the U.S., the 18,000 DWT vessel was built in 2019 as one of Furetank’s V-Series, a new generation of climate-smart product tankers. The ship is among the first vessels at Furetank to have electric cargo pumps installed. The company has recorded a 25% reduction in power and fuel consumption in relation to cargo discharge operations compared to vessels in the fleet that have hydraulic pumps.

For Clas Gustafsson, technical manager at Furetank, it has been very positive to experience the improvement that the FlowControl installation has offered. Cargo discharge operations run more smoothly and easierly, with fewer stoppages.

We have experienced a significant improvement, especially while discharging with multiple (four or six) cargo pumps simultaneously against high backpressure and high power output,” says Gustafsson. “Some tuning can be done when running multiple pumps at low speed against medium or high backpressure. But overall, we are delighted with the FlowControl system.”

The FlowControl system is a software-based solution for both newbuilds and existing vessels. The application connects to the VFD, and the system will automatically operate the cargo pumps at the optimal duty point. This reduces port time, fuel consumption and maintenance costs for the cargo pumps.

“Operators are currently changing between cargo tanks during discharge,” says Anders Lürzer Askholm, service manager, at Svanehøj. “This requires the speed of the pumps to be adjusted manually. When you adjust the speed, the pumps will operate outside of the optimal duty point. But with the new PLC possibilities, we now can design pumping curves together with the software, without being limited by the construction of the pump. With FlowControl we are making discharging of products and chemicals a matter of choosing the right software.”

As FlowControl does not require any additional hardware, the system can be installed while the ship is in operation. Once the service engineer is onboard, the vessel will be upgraded within a few days in parallel with the loading/discharge operation.

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