Shiprepair & Maintenance: January 2019
With shipowners under growing pressure to make a decision about scrubbers for 2020 and finally facing the compliance date for installing ballast water treatment systems (BWTS), a surge in environmental retrofits is expected in the next few years.
However, the tendency amongst shipowners to delay installations until the last minute has led to warnings from suppliers, consultants and yards to leave ample time for the retrofit process.
At a recent ImmediaSea roundtable in London, Goltens Green Technologies’ Manager of Engineering Business Development, Willem Visscher, cautioned that on average a year is required to retrofit a scrubber, from the evaluation phase to commissioning. For BWTS, DNV GL cites between six to nine months from ordering to commissioning.
With such lengthy timescales required, Visscher advocated the need for preparation to avoid problems: “Prepare. Plan ahead. It has to be done anyway, so allow yourself the time to make the right decision.”
While Visscher claimed that most of Goltens’ environmental retrofit clients have taken heed of this advice, he noted along with Optimarin CEO Tore Andersen that “[we] have a mutual customer who called us last week and said ‘I have to install a ballast water treatment system by 5th December’,” an impossible deadline that illustrates a lack of understanding about the amount of work required for a successful installation.
According to Visscher, in an ideal timeline for a scrubber, a shipowner first evaluates the feasibility of their chosen system, taking as long as required to reach a sound decision. Goltens then performs an onboard laser survey over one or two days to build up a 3D model (see image) into which the equipment can be ‘placed’, allowing chief engineers and shipowners to visualise it in situ. This 3D modelling can take up to four weeks, and is combined with pre-engineering such as creating concept drawings.
Next, detailed retrofit design engineering is undertaken over up to 18 weeks, with pre-fabrication at the shipyard following for the next 10 weeks (procurement is completed concurrently with these two stages.) Installation is next, taking one to two weeks, and finally commissioning, lasting between four and eight weeks.
Besides shipowners preparing and leaving ample time, Visscher also highlighted the need for effective collaboration: “During drydock and installation there are a lot of parties that are involved. With every project, communication is key. Make sure everyone is aware of what has to happen and what everybody should be doing at a certain point in time.”
Visscher further advised caution when dealing with sister ships, which although theoretically the same can actually feature differences that can compromise retrofit operations. “We hear a lot of shipowners say ‘it’s a sister vessel, you don’t need to do any engineering’,” he said. “We always say go on board and make another scan – we’ll do a check, and you can have a problem-free installation.”