Remote servicing keeps ships at sea

How to reduce maintenance-related downtime? Shipping company Fjord Line installed an HVAC solution with a cloud-based remote servicing system on its ferry linking the Swedish and the Norwegian sides of the Oslo Fjord.

Ships only make money by moving from port to port, whether they are carrying passengers or freight. So when a ship is moored at the dock, the general aim is to get it out to sea again as quickly as possible. Cleaning, waste disposal, and refueling are done in haste; even more complicated tasks such as mending hardware or upgrading technical systems are performed under time pressure – which increases both the costs and the risk of critical mistakes.

 

Another option, of course, would be to service ships at sea. But when more complicated operations require specialist intervention, costs might quickly exceed those of an extra day spent at the docks.

Remote assistance

But does it have to be like this? This was the question that leading European HVAC supplier Novenco Marines & Offshore and their customer, the Danish shipping company Fjord Line A/S, asked themselves. What if maintenance could be done at sea, remotely? Today, on the MS Oslofjord, this is not only a possibility – it’s a proven reality.

 

The answer to solving this dilemma lies in remote servicing systems that allow for a lot of maintenance work, upgrades, and planning of physical repairs to be managed from shore or be executed automatically. And if experts are needed at some point, they can remain on land and direct the actions from their own workplace.

Smooth crossings

Fjord Line A/S has embraced this concept to increase the efficiency of its passenger ferry MS Oslofjord. Carrying 370 cars and some 1,800 passengers, it makes two return trips daily from the Norwegian town of Sandefjord to the Swedish west coast town of Strömstad. Each of the four daily crossings between Sweden and Norway takes two and a half hours.

 

As a passenger ferry, the MS Oslofjord obviously requires all comfort systems, such as ventilation, heating, and air-conditioning, to be thoroughly maintained and run as smoothly as possible. At the same time though, the ferry has to keep its strict timetable, or else Fjord Line’s business will suffer.

Cloud access on the water

Late in 2015, Fjord Line installed a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system from Novenco Marines & Offshore featuring Siemens Climatix controllers. The solution pioneered a cloud-based system called NovenCloud – which uses the Climatix IC Remote Servicing System as its core technology – to make all HVAC data available to both Fjord Line and Novenco.

 

There are 16 air-conditioning units equipped with Climatix controllers on board the MS Oslofjord, together with a lot of other HVAC systems. With the cloud-based system, most upgrades and other support tasks can be made by remote servicing. More extensive work can be meticulously planned for swift execution once the ship is in port. The system continuously collects key equipment data, which makes it possible for Novenco to identify and plan all such upcoming maintenance operations.

 

There are 16 air-conditioning units equipped with Climatix controllers on board the MS Oslofjord, together with a lot of other HVAC systems. With the cloud-based system, most upgrades and other support tasks can be made by remote servicing. More extensive work can be meticulously planned for swift execution once the ship is in port. The system continuously collects key equipment data, which makes it possible for Novenco to identify and plan all such upcoming maintenance operations.

Thanks to the data automatically collected in the cloud by Climatix IC, we are well prepared for service calls and use the short time the ferry stops in port to full advantage.
Jonas Johansen, product manager at Novenco

Saving time and money

“Using Climatix IC from Siemens, we were able to significantly improve our service performance and response times for the MS Oslofjord,” says Jonas Johansen, product manager at Novenco. “We can solve minor problems with the cabin ventilation or the primary systems remotely via the Internet. For occasional major work, the service technicians stand ready dockside with all the necessary spare parts and tools when the ferry enters the port. Thanks to the data automatically collected in the cloud by Climatix IC, we are well prepared for service calls and use the short time the ferry stops in port to full advantage. This saves time and money, both for us and for our customer.”

 

In January 2017, owner Fjord Line A/S decided to improve the comfort for the MS Oslofjord’s passengers even further by introducing pressure-dependent cabin ventilation. Because the primary systems installed on the ferry had already implemented this basic capability, only minor hardware modifications were needed.

 

As the operator of the HVAC systems on the ship, Novenco focused on reprogramming the control software. The software update was transmitted to the air-conditioning controllers quickly and easily via Climatix IC. What once would have taken a service technician several nights to accomplish with the ferry anchored in port, Climatix IC managed in a few hours and at significantly less expense to Fjord Line A/S.

 

This operation made the MS Oslofjord the first vessel to successfully receive a 100 percent remote upgrade – no Novenco employee was even on board to perform it.

Quick overview for efficient planning

Another advantage of NovenCloud is the geographic display of all connected systems and their status. This gives technicians a quick overview and allows them to set priorities and plan upcoming service calls efficiently.

 

“Climatix IC is our response to a challenge many of our customers are confronted with,” explains Reiner Werner, Head of Field Devices & OEM at Siemens Building Technologies. “Ever narrower maintenance windows and cost optimization require that we respond quickly.” And this is exactly where Climatix IC comes in to offer superior flexibility, promote efficient servicing of the supported systems and cut the costs per service call. “Particularly in maritime environments, which are subject to strict regulatory requirements and challenging environmental conditions, Climatix IC is the ideal solution for providing optimal service,” he adds.

2018-10-04

Author: Nils Lindstrand, journalist based in Sweden.

Picture credits: Siemens AG

Length overall: 134.4 m

Beam: 24 m

Gross tonnage: 17,851

Capacity:1,800 passengers, 370 vehicles

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