USA: Cat Marine Releases Paper on 'The Future of Remote Monitoring in Marine Applications'

Global mariners are familiar with new industry trends. They’ve seen many new technologies come and go over the past centuries. The age of sail eventually grew into the age of steam powered paddle-wheelers with sails. These hybrid vessels quickly removed the sails and trusted in the paddles and boilers for propulsion. Shortly thereafter, propeller technology took over, providing safety from the dangers of the exposed side paddles.

As seamen increasingly began to value safety at sea, improvements in control room technology became the standard. Eventually technology allowed unmanned engine rooms with a high degree of operational data logging. The next obvious step was to attempt to monitor the engine data from shore, thus the beginning of the remote monitoring industry trend as one can see today. And why not? Isn’t remote monitoring already a standard in land based power and even the offshore wind industry today? Unfortunately, the marine industry isn’t so simple.

In the modern marine operating environment today, shipping companies still maintain traditional engine room theories on how to manage installed assets. Skilled on-board engineers who monitor vessel operating conditions from an engine control room or from the bridge are still the norm. However, remote monitoring technology is advancing at such a pace that asset suppliers have capabilities to advise the engine room staff on the condition, deterioration, and eventual failure of most types of equipment. Naval Architects will shortly need to understand how to design and install this technology during the new-build period to optimize the benefits to the owners. Owners need to begin to understand this new technology in order to build the advantages into their operating procedures and financial models. This paper explains the evolution of remote monitoring technology, some design requirements, and the advantages to the owners and shipping companies.

Data is only one element of remote monitoring. Advancing the technology to the next paradigm requires the ability to convert the data into information, the information into recommendations, and the recommendations into action. This requires a subset of definitions that are critical to understanding the evolution of remote monitoring. Remote monitoring can be considered as the ability to monitor and read operational parameters from a remote location. Condition-based monitoring builds on remote monitoring by utilizing the operational parameters to define running conditions. A vast step forward is the ability to convert this conditional data being fed into a centralized location into useful advanced warnings, extended maintenance recommendations, and, ultimately, a lowered cost of operation.

Today the struggle in this area comes from a variety of reasons, many of which include the limitations of a single source provider to have the capabilities of monitoring vast amounts of data and making any level of useful recommendation. For this reason, Advanced Condition Monitoring can be defined as the ability to integrate algorithmic capabilities into the data- stream to identify critical parameters with high velocity. Considering the number of monitored assets aboard a merchant vessel today, numerous advancements will need to be made for such a solution to be offered to the marine industry by a single supplier.

To read full paper, log on to Caterpillar Marine Power Systems

Shipbuilding Tribune Staff, February 20, 2012; Image: marine.cat

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Posted on February 20, 2012

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