Norwegian tech company Optimarin has launched a new digital tool that provides real-time monitoring of ballast water treatment systems (BWTS). The solution generates data and automatically transfers it from ship to shore for analytical purposes, helping to make ballast water treatment more effective and efficient, and enabling easier regulatory compliance.
The tool connects the BWTS to the world via a vessel’s own communication systems, or an external link installed onboard. Data is transferred to the OptiLink cloud. Shipowners, operators and onbaord crew can view a range of ballast water KPIs for each vessel and fleet and through a user-friendly visual interface can see how well the BWTS is performing.
Acording to Optimarin, the users will subsequently be able to connect with the cloud through a secure internet connection.
A small 30 x 38 cm box called the OptiLink panel is fitted to the ship. The second part of the system is the VPN router that connects the Optimarin BWTS with Optimarin’s headquarters. This can be switched on and off by the crew.
Continuous and remote support is provided to users of OptiLink via online software updates for troubleshooting. This reduces the need for physical service work on the BWTS, resulting in cost and time savings.
Continuous condition monitoring of the BWTS allows for proactive maintenance to ensure efficient operation of the system by alerting the crew to possible equipment malfunctions.
In addition, OptiLink can analyse big data both with respect to system performance and water quality at geographical locations where ballast water operations are ongoing.
This enhances the predictability of ballast water operations to give the ship operator greater visibility so voyage planning can be optimised to reduce fuel consumption and downtime.
Another benefit is that compliance data from the BWTS can be transmitted directly to statutory authorities, which can then provide guidance on corrective action in case of contamination so that eg. a certificate of compliance can be obtained.
This certification can then be communicated to the relevant port authority so that port turnarounds are shortened as the need for lab testing of water quality and onboard inspections is effectively eliminated.
This is particularly significant as the shipping industry faces a 2024 deadline for compliance with an IMO regulation that requires all vessels to conform with a so-called D2 standard specifying the maximum volume of viable organisms in ballast water discharges.
“The whole aspect of ballast water treatment changes from a manual operation to a system approach where the BWTS and its operations become an integral part of the vessel’s functions,” said Leiv Kallestad, chief executive of Optimarin.
“This means the BWTS can be managed proactively in support of reduced downtime and reduced fuel consumption, with less hassle as control over the transfer of ballast water in and out of the vessel improves greatly.”
According to Optimarin, the tool can also be used with other BWTS, not just Optimarin’s own systems.
The tool has been trialled onboard an oil/chemical tanker Latana owned by Norwegian shipowner Utkilen for a period of one year. According to Kim Stian Haugland, Optimarin’s vice president of technology, the vessel owner is keen to roll out OptiLink to all other vessels installed with Optmarin BWTS.