-- FROM THE FULL PICTURE MAGAZINE --
In its quest to offer the best in environmental solutions for the shipping industry,
Kongsberg Maritime has teamed up with AVL to offer an engine performance monitoring
system that could lead to savings of millions of pounds for large fleets plying
their trade over the world's oceans.
Back row left to right: Ketil Olaf Paulsen, Kongsberg; Dr. Ruediger Teichmann,AVL; Morten Olsen, Kongsberg; Heinz Theo Hilscher, Kongsberg. Front row: Beatrice Jörer, AVL; Dr. Hinrich Mohr, AVL; Katja Quast, Kongsberg.
In December 2007, Kongsberg Maritime received a call from some senior figures
at Austrian power train and instrumentation company, AVL. That call set in motion
a project that has now resulted in an 18-month environmental programme centred on
Höegh Autoliners' 6,100 vehicle capacity car carrier, the Detroit. Known as the
Green Ship Project, Kongsberg will operate as the technology integrator, AVL will
provide its unique engine sensor as part AVL's engine performance & optimisation
system (AVL EPOS) while the Höegh Detroit will act as the testing environment.
Improve engine performance
With the increasing costs of fuels – combined with the taxation charges for emissions
for CO2, NOX and SOX – the demands from the market for ways to analyse and, in turn,
improve an engine's performance have been growing rapidly. But the ability to create
fuel savings of even a few per cent, which can equate to savings of tens of thousands
of pounds a year for a ship, by being able to run an engine at optimum performance,
has in the past been difficult to achieve. Engines are repaired and recalibrated
during a service, but they often quickly drift away from expected performance levels
on a voyage and the necessary on-board adjustments are not made.
AVL had for some time been working on developing a new product – under the name
AVL EPOS - that monitors engine performance upon ships. Kongsberg Maritime had been
seeking to undertake a similar project and as AVL had already successfully moved
some way down the path to achieving this aim, it seemed right for the two companies
to pool their considerable complementary resources in an attempt to meet the growing
demand for environmental products.
High temperature sensors
Until now, the greatest barrier to overcoming the challenge of continuous real-time
monitoring of an engine had been to produce sensors that can cope with the high
temperatures experienced in an engine. Quartz crystal sensors have been used until
now, but they are unable to perform effectively at temperatures of over 275 °C.
AVL, however, has recently made a major breakthrough by being able to grow gallium
orthophosphate crystals for high performance combustion sensors that can withstand
temperatures of well in excess of 600 °C – just the sort of temperatures experienced
in the cylinder of your average vessel engine.
Dr. Ruediger Teichmann, AVL's global business segment manager, combustion measurement
division, believes the success in growing these new crystals was the starting point
for a successful partnership with Kongsberg maritime. However, other factors have
helped the relationship to swiftly develop. "We are very proud of the work we have
done in being able to develop these new crystal sensors. Because this is a world
first, many people were sceptical of this new technology – Kongsberg among them.
However, their knowledge of the shipping sector meant they understood the value
of such a technology – particularly as they had been working in-house to develop
something similar. They recognise and, as such, are as excited as us about the incredible
benefits that AVL EPOS could well bring to shipping operations over the coming years."
The need to closely monitor an engine and its performance is vital to any ship.
Unfortunately, this has historically been a very time-consuming activity and the
results difficult to analyse. Under the present methods, a member of the ship's
crew – usually the chief engineer – is charged with checking the ship's engine by
monitoring with a hand-held sensor various points– such as the cylinders – to check
them for, among other things, heat, pressure and vibration. This ought to be undertaken
regularly, e. g. at least once a day but, in reality happens much less often. The
results also need to be carefully analysed to see whether the engine's performance
is in any way below optimum levels. Again, interpretation of these results – which
could lead to pro-active steps to improve it – needs specialist skills which are
often lacking aboard ship.
AVL's approach is completely different and – when combined with Kongsberg Maritime's
control systems experience - will bring about a sea change in engine performance
management techniques. Dr. Hinrich Mohr explains. "Unlike previous systems, our
sensors are fitted to points on the engines and remain there throughout their lifetime.
This means that they are able to continuously monitor the engine's performance and
constantly provide detailed analysis of the situation whenever required.
Morten Olsen, Sales & Marketing Manager of Kongsberg Maritime Europe and America,
is particularly impressed with the software analysis tool that AVL has developed
as it will simplify the task of managing the engine's performance. "Everybody is
well aware that the task of engine management is becoming ever more difficult –
a result of factors such as a lack of trained staff, ever more complex systems and
the workload of seafarers. But, with AVL EPOS each cylinder is monitored via a Windows-based
graphical user interface and uses a traffic light system, which is easy to view
and swift to interpret. The software behind display is complex, but the interface
is child's play. It is a very impressive solution to what, to date, has been a thorny
When operating, each sensor gathers data and the information is interpreted and
displayed through this unique traffic light system. If everything is performing
within defined parameters, the traffic light is green. If the signal moves outside
those parameters, the traffic light then changes to orange. This means that there
is potential for a failure and the specific part of the engine demands closer attention.
If a signal shows up on the traffic light system as red, this is a critical situation
that needs to be dealt with immediately.
Dr. Hinrich Mohr, AVL's product manager of system integration, large engines,
says that monitoring of an engine using this system is simple enough to be undertaken
by any number of on-board personnel after a short amount of training. "This gives
the crew increased flexibility as the role of monitoring – whilst always under the
chief engineer – can be shared among a number of crew. However, the beauty of the
system is that remote monitoring can also be performed. All the data can be sent
via Inmarsat back to shore where the information can be even more closely analysed,
monitored and, where necessary, remedial action taken."
The data can be set to measure once a day for example, but different time parameters
can be set depending on the part in question or whether there is a need to monitor
a particular circumstance more closely.
AVL's strength is its complete understanding of what's required to build and
maintain a highly robust engine performance & optimisation system. Kongsberg Maritime
brings its knowledge of automation and control systems and integrates it into one
easy-to-install package. The result is an environmental solution never seen before
in the shipping industry.
Previously AVL's strength regarding online cylinder pressure indicating has been
mainly in gas-based, land-based power systems, but their world leading competence
in this sector was no bar to their development of similar monitoring systems for
vessels utilizing heavy oil. As Mohr explains: "The maritime sector has, until now,
been a very small part of our business. But, through our work with Kongsberg Maritime,
we have come to recognise that there is a major requirement for highly reliable
engine monitoring and management tools that are simple to use. I think we have a
great partnership – our engine and sensing technology know-how and Kongsberg's shipping
sector and systems integration knowledge. I truly believe the opportunities are
Olsen agrees. "The term unique is, unfortunately, used all too often nowadays.
However, when it comes to engine performance and optimisation, this term really
does apply. There are a number of companies in the market today that provide sensors
– though to nothing like the capability of those produced by AVL. There are also
companies that have software analysis and data acquisition tools. However, it is
only this offering from Kongsberg Maritime and AVL that is a fully integrated and
highly robust solution that can interpret what is happening on-board ship and relay
it to shore in real-time.
The final piece in the EPOS jigsaw puzzle was the result of Kongsberg Maritime's
relationship with Höegh. For nearly two decades, Kongsberg has been supplying a
range of automated instrumentation tools and control systems for various vessels
in Höegh's global fleet of 67 ships– which includes LNG tankers and car carriers.
Kongsberg Maritime and AVL have now teamed up with Höegh to undertake a trial of
AVL EPOS aboard the Höegh Detroit. Fitting of the equipment was undertaken in Holland
over a week in mid-July.
A number of engineering team crew were given training in use of the system and
the vessel is now back in service in the Far East. The engine performance & optimisation
system - AVL EPOS V1.0 - is now live and is being used to analyse how the engine
is running. Data is not currently being sent automatically back to shore for analysis,
though a switch over from the present manual system will take place shortly. Though
the project has been slated to last eighteen months it is hoped that initial results
will come in early next year and will enable Kongsberg to roll out AVL EPOS as part
of its environmental offerings to both Höegh and other the shipping operators during
As the project progresses a raft of additional parameter will be added to Höegh's
green ship, including monitoring of such factors as the vessel's trim speed, course
and even the weather conditions. All these elements, when added together, will be
able to provide a full picture to the vessel's condition and can then be used to
analyse and therefore vary a number of parameters which could well make vital additional
Who are AVL?
AVL is the world's largest privately-owned and independent company for the development
of powertrain systems with internal combustion engines as well as instrumentation
and test systems from the smallest chainsaw to the biggest propulsion engine. Headquartered
in Graz, Austria, the company has over 4,300 employees, over half of which are based
in 45 representative and affiliate offices outside of Austria.
The company is primarily involved in the development of powertrain systems and
is a competent partner to the engine and automotive industry. In addition AVL develops
and markets the simulation methods which are necessary for the development work.
Additionally, it works on engine instrumentation and test systems, comprises all
the instruments and systems required for powertrain and vehicle testing. It is said
that its extensive work in Formula One motor racing means that whichever team wins
a grand prix event, AVL has had some involvement in that team's success.
The company has recognized the growing demand for engine management systems for
the shipping industry and is partnering with Kongsberg Maritime to extend its competence
in this area.
Turnover in 2007 for AVL amounted to some 625 million Euros.