An effective vessel maintenance strategy involves accurate and reliable data and an understanding of the individual ship, but it also involves combining the right human competencies with knowledge obtained from data to succeed in this space. This is the opinion of Steen Lykke Pedersen, head of dry dockings and maintenance strategies at Maersk Supply Service.
The overall maintenance of a vessel has a direct impact on its performance and safety, with a carefully implemented maintenance strategy reducing a vessel’s downtime, thereby making that vessel more competitive. Speaking at Digital Ship’s forum in Copenhagen earlier this month on the topic of predictive maintenance, Mr Pedersen says he sees, “No tolerance for failures, especially failures that could have been predicted. In the future we must be able to predict more.”
One way to predict more failures is to make better use of digital technology. Mr Pedersen admitted that at Maersk Supply Service, they are “at the beginning and still have a lot of learning to do.” He said that as a result of the digital direction shipping is heading in, they have a lot of questions, which has resulted in a change in business model that is finding new ways of collecting and monitoring data and assessing the role of the human in this space. “We’re looking at ways a computer can be helpful and asking if it really needs to tell us what is wrong or whether we can get this information from a person,” Mr Pedersen explained. As more information becomes digital, Maersk Supply Service is focussing on identifying useful data and its boundaries. According to Mr Pedersen, this means ensuring the right competencies are in the right space and the data is combined with human knowledge, which could come from in or outside the maritime industry.
One key driver for Maersk Supply Service to improve its dry-docking maintenance is to contribute towards shipping’s efforts to combat global climate change. “We talk a lot about the environment and there are a lot of sustainability goals in place and we want to provide our contribution. We could do that by extending dry-dockings and lifetime of components,” he said.
Mr Pedersen believes there are a lot of questions that first need answering. For instance, could the traditional way of doing things be changed?
One area he touched upon was vessel downtime. He said that digital data could be used to assess whether the cost of running vessels with an uptime of 99 per cent, as they do at Maersk Supply Service, is worth it. For instance, running components for longer and not maintaining them, rather replacing or having a spare. He said that testing done by Maersk Supply Service has found that many components can run much longer than the component supplier says. But,” class societies are reluctant to less us pass these limits.” Mr Pedersen hopes that digital data could provide insights to help cut unnecessary downtime and maintenance in this space.
Digital technology and the human element
One area Mr Pedersen admitted he finds challenging is getting good feedback and reporting from the crew when it comes to using new digital technologies. “It’s a simple issue but it’s down to history”, he said. “It’s not something that has been done and when you look through the eyes of an engineer onboard he wants to maintain the ship and make sure the equipment is operating as it should be and is optimised. That’s his main focus, not reporting or working in IT systems. It is a challenge we have but it may come with younger generations, those more prone to working with IT. We may have to educate and show how this is part of their education,” he explained.
At Maersk Supply Service, a new app has been set up for the crew, enabling members to access from any location new initiatives onboard the ship and to stay informed and up to date with what is happening onboard and within the company. Explaining further about Maersk Supply Service’s efforts to reach out, Mr Pedersen went on to say, “We also have a sounding board that consists of a small group of captains and chief engineers that come into the office and discuss big decisions on data and digital technologies.”
Mr Pedersen said that Maersk Supply Service’s future vision is to, “Be able to predict where we fail, when we have to dock, when we have to change a component, where we have to maintain.” He believes that the traditional overhaul is likely to be replaced with a predictive maintenance approach. “Our objective is to be able to predict the future, maintenance wise. We want to be able to tell our clients that they will have to do an overhaul of some sort in the next 6 months have and be able to warn them if they have to take their vessel out of operation for 14 days. We will be able to tell our clients that’s what they face. This will give us an advantage. No clients like failures and we will be predicting failures. This is a strong driver for us.”