Optimizing Performance

Scrubber installation in progress (file image)

Published Dec 31, 2019 11:18 PM by Sean M. Holt

(Article originally published in Mar/Apr 2019 edition.)

According to the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the three key drivers of global shipping change are liner consolidation, technical advances and climate change policy. Each will directly impact margins and needs to be addressed with a sharp eye on the bottom line and an emphasis on performance optimization. 

Climate change policy is already having an impact on shipping, particularly in the area of emissions, so let’s start with a topic much in the news these days – scrubbers.


MarEx caught up with Kings Pointer Craig Gundry, General Manager of Fassmer Technical Projects (FTP), for an inside look at scrubber technology. Gundry’s core leadership and execution team boasts more than 500,000 hours of scrubber engineering and installations.  

In discussing the upcoming effective date, he expresses concern that industry experts aren’t being consulted to ensure the most cost- and time-effective integration of these systems. He says there are lots of misconceptions about project safety, pricing, system weight and footprint, electrical load and the importance of planning. With the deadline quickly approaching, time considerations from planning to commissioning can be upwards of 15 months. 

Gundry offers a breakdown of the concerns for the installation of a scrubber system. First and foremost is being brutally honest about the skills and capabilities of your own internal team of project managers and installers. Next is finding the most suitable scrubber supplier, design house (engineering firm) and integrators or shipyards. 

An experienced turnkey organization that can execute on all decisions with regards to materials, installation, testing, commissioning and demonstration of compliance will place an organization in the best position for success. Design and procurement should ideally be completed six months prior to installation. Then allow two to five weeks to stage and prepare for the project after material and equipment delivery in order to reduce downtime during install.

Materials Selection

With regard to specific materials, Gundry focuses on availability, weight and footprint. “Best practices learned from the cruise industry should be applied in other sectors when it comes to material selection for scrubber installations,” he states, noting that there have been significant improvements in piping materials, particularly in the glass-reinforced category such as glass-reinforced epoxy (GRE) and glass-reinforced vinyl ester (GRVE). “Misunderstanding the critical differences between GRVE, GRE, PE 100 & PE Lined-Pipe has been a perilous mistake for many owners executing scrubber installations,” he adds.
GRE & GRVE (OEMs include Future Pipe & Fibersol, respectively) are ideal for corrosive fluid conditions requiring lightweight, high-reliability and mechanical strength (superior axial and circumferential values) along with shock resistance. It should be noted that despite GRE and GRVE’s very similar chemical composition, the bonding material is not compatible.  

GRE and GRVE have their downsides, of course, as it may be harder to reroute in some areas around critical systems that can’t easily be moved, particularly for in-service retrofits. GRE and GRVE cannot be fabricated to all the same geometries as steel pipes, so at times the two pipe types will be mixed.  

Polyethylene (PE) 100, produced by Georg Fischer Piping Systems, among others, is ideal for retrofits but requires more space, is heavier and has a bigger outside diameter to achieve the same inner diameter as steel/stainless steel SMO 254 and GRE/GRVE. For newbuilds, PE coated piping is cost- and install-effective and can be prefabricated with precise geometry. However, you cannot weld these pre-lined pipes without damaging the coating, which can cause problems.
Mike Seggelink of Minneapolis-based coating firm Graco, Inc. confirms how a pipeline service company they dealt with had welded pre-coated PE and thus destroyed the integrity of the coating. This caused drastically reduced revenues and massive delays in order to properly re-coat and maintain job compliance and permitting.

Gundry’s parting advice is to be wary of entrusting 100 percent of your scrubber project (OEM, design, integration) to a single organization in order to maintain checks and balances. In addition to understanding the primary quality control issues with regard to specialized piping systems, owner/operators should ensure they have the correct planning, engineering and procedures in place. Most of FTP’s work centers around post-scrubber installation repairs. 

Steve Hartsaw, Senior Project Manager for W&O Supply, also encourages customers to avoid the madness by engaging early. He explains the supply/demand balance for scrubbers is already being disrupted and causing delayed deliveries as a result of postponing orders.
For those seeking additional scrubber pump solutions, century-old, Denmark-based DESMI produces the NSL vertical in-line stainless steel pump and boasts high efficiencies of up to 85 percent with short delivery times.

Pump Challenges

On December 10, 2017, the U.K.-registered Pride of Kent struck a jetty and grounded while departing France. The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch cited the loss of a bow thruster due to fuel pump problems following a change to ultra-low-sulfur fuel (ULSF), which resulted in the thrusters tripping and reduced engine and shaft speeds when maneuvering. The serviceable life of the main engine fuel pumps was reduced from as much as five years to two months.  

One way of countering this particular threat may be from Hoboken-based Sims Pump Valve Company, which makes SIMSITE® and advertises itself as “the official pump and parts supplier to the U.S. Navy.” Its structural composites have been proven to solve common pump problems related to corrosion, erosion, cavitation, electrolysis, rotor imbalance, premature bearing failure and leakage. Shock-tested to U.S. Navy/NAVSEA standards and installed on hundreds of warships over the years, if you have 99 problems, a pump shouldn’t be one of them. 

SIMS President John Kozel recognizes that in difficult times it may be hard to pay for more costly parts but stresses that “Payback will prove to be extremely quick – in most cases less than a year. You can buy a quality item for 50 or 100 percent more, and it will last you two to ten times as long and save the time and costs of labor hours and logistics that are typically not considered when comparing products at the time of purchase.” Kozel also says it’s imperative that ship managers plan required maintenance and develop spare parts programs accordingly.

Offshore Gains

For other incremental gains, major offshore projects have incorporated the use of ONIS Quick-Action Line Blinds that can blank-off 1”-50” lines with one person and zero tools. To complement, Norway’s Eltorque AS is a leading manufacturer of electric valve actuators and control systems with the slogan, “The Future Is Electric.” Eltorque believes that securing a maintenance-free operation during the lifecycle of the actuator is crucial for customers as is providing the best operational flexibility, the lowest power consumption and the smallest footprint.

For those in oil and gas, mature laser technology used by NASA as well as the nuclear, aerospace and defense industries has been introduced to the oilfield tube and pipeline markets. Texas-based LaserStream, LP has developed the Bore Erosion Measurement & Inspection System (BEMIS?) pipe scanner for tubing, casing, risers, drill pipe and in-plant systems applications. Its highly detailed dimensional data is easily visualized through 3D-rendered software that feeds failure-mode effect and analysis (FMEA) models for remaining life analysis.  

As the industry continues moving digital and surveys switch from periodical to Condition Monitoring (CM) and Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) cycles, automation leaders such as Kongsberg are providing holistic solutions for engines and rotating equipment (compressors, thrusters, pumps, fans, gears and bearings).  

Using an array of advanced sensor technology for vibration, acoustics, pressure, temperature and electrical readings, data is time-stamped with information from automation and navigation systems (i.e., vessel speed, weather conditions) and then quickly analyzed against predetermined criteria. Big Data is visually presented for a current condition and includes remaining useful life (RUL) calculations.  Planned maintenance and surveys can be evaluated locally or as fleet-wide comparisons. – MarEx 

Sean Holt writes on technology for The Maritime Executive.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.