You can’t manage what you don’t measure

Jan 31 2013


Utilising clean technologies and operational measures to increase energy efficiency across the maritime sector delivers a number of undeniable advantages*.

This comes at a time when owners and operators are struggling to cover record-high fuel costs and seeking a competitive advantage, plus meeting increasing environmental regulations. In addition, charterers would also benefit as in most cases, they pay for the fuel.

Being able to accurately measure energy consumption is key to ensuring that efficiencies can be identified and any measures to reduce energy consumption are addressed. You wouldn’t embark on a New Year diet without a set of accurate scales.

Not only does increased energy efficiency of individual vessels help to reduce day-to-day operational costs, but also industry-wide improvements in energy usage will ultimately lower the macro costs of international trade.

By directly addressing and rectifying energy inefficiencies, shipping can contribute a ‘shot in the arm’ that the global economy needs and act as an engine of recovery and development. Moreover, technological and operational improvements also have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create incentives to invest and generate jobs in companies that are developing, or have already developed, proven fuel saving technologies through accelerated technology take-up.

However, in spite of the benefits supposedly available to all, there continues to be a disconnect between ’clean’ technology providers, who believe they have affordable solutions that will provide a measureable return on investment within a short period of time, and shipowners and operators who are wary of over inflated fuel savings claims.

Tom Boardley, marine director at Lloyd’s Register and chairman of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), recently expressed doubts over what he believed were unsubstantiated fuel savings claims based on theoretical modeling with no physical results. As time goes on, this disconnect will only lead to further delays in the adoption of the measures that the industry needs to provide certainty for investments.

The first step in helping shipowners and operators to realise the fuel and emissions reductions benefits of clean technologies fitted to new and existing vessels, is to increase the transparency of the fundamental data and analysis behind performance claims. By standardising and monitoring data, owners and operators will have a universal benchmark to work from, which can also be used to contextualise and compare competing clean technologies.

Only recently, EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Commission vice president Siim Kallas announced they intended to pursue such a monitoring, reporting and verification process in early 2013 - "A simple, robust and globallyfeasible approach towards setting a system for monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions based on fuel consumption is the necessary starting point [to any market-based mechanism].”

 

Limited Information

Information is something that the independent performance monitoring providers can help with and in some cases are doing so already. To measure is to know and real-time, automated performance monitoring enables the crew on board a vessel to take necessary actions early in response to changing conditions that can adversely affect fuel consumption.

From an onshore management perspective, real-time, on board performance monitoring enables long-term trends to be measured and analysed to enable faster and more precise decision making within the long-term goal of developing more efficient fleet operations.

However, as things stand, most shipowners and operators have limited information about the fuel consumption and the energy efficiency of their fleet. For most, performance analysis is carried out manually with operators comparing energy performance reports and audits in isolation against budget estimates.

 

Standardised independent approach

As well as the gap in data, another piece of the jigsaw that is also missing is the standardisation of an independent approach used to measure the fuel savings of clean technologies and performance increase against a baseline - the ultimate requirement for the monetisation of the fuel saving. Access to an optimum level of fundamental data on fuel consumption, vessel performance and emissions will provide the foundation for calculating fuel consumption and therefore, demonstrate the real fuel savings available from clean technologies.

Hull coatings are the most widely used ecoefficient technology on the market and as a leading global marine coatings supplier, International Paint has the opportunity and responsibility to lead the way. However, it should not and cannot be up to hull coatings’ companies to set the parameters and methodologies by which their products are measured; a principle that is relevant to all clean technology and their manufacturers.

The best and most appropriate thing we can do is let independent, third party expert fuel and emissions monitoring organisations develop a standard model that can be applied to measure fuel consumption and the savings available through technologies. Tapping into accurate, high-quality and high-frequency fuel consumption and vessel performance data, collected from ships’ sensors monitoring engine torque, navigational systems and the speed log, throughout the service life of a vessel could become a fundamental way of improving operational efficiency of the global shipping fleet.

Ensuring independence is critical and the most responsible and effective way to generate credibility and accurate ecoefficiency benefits for clean technology manufacturers, which will serve to build trust with customers and the wider shipping industry.

Measuring the effect of clean technologies will present different challenges in newly built vessels and those vessels that have been retrofitted. For a newbuild there is no historical data, therefore it is only possible to measure change in efficiency during the inservice period, compared to sea-trial data. Therefore it is more difficult to evaluate varying technologies, as each vessel will be slightly different. Another challenge is determining the cause of any change in performance and subsequent change in fuel consumption (eg, mechanical damage, hull fouling, propeller, engine efficiency, etc).

For retrofitting technology to existing vessels, it is possible to compare predrydocking data with post-drydocking data. Using noon reports it is possible to measure performance changes, but the accuracy of the results will depend on the precision and integrity of the data. The challenge of determining the cause of any change (eg mechanical damage, hull fouling, propeller, engine efficiency, etc) is still the same. In addition for retrofitting, the vessel must be trading in equivalent state (speed, draft, trim, etc) for the results to be meaningful. Compensating for the effects of weather, as with all vessel efficiency measurements, is also critical in determining effect on efficiency. Again, automated systems will give the most accurate results.

 

To measure is to know

Many shipowners and operators today have to rely on inadequate information and data to justify investments. If they don’t have confidence in the fuel and emissions reduction figures that are claimed, the take up of these technologies and further innovation will be stifled and customers will spend more on fuel than they need to at a time when budgets are being significantly stretched and charterers increasingly scrutinising their fuel spend. With current technology and innovation there is the scope for a meaningful framework and roadmap for calculating fuel consumption and a level playing field provided for all.

Accurate measurements can only serve to challenge coatings’ manufacturers to continue to develop technology to better serve future demands for greater efficiency within the industry. Of course, the challenge for International Paint will be to embrace the opportunity and drive constant, measurable improvement to a recognised global standard.

* This article was written by Paul Robbins, marine marketing director, International Paint



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