With the ever-changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest aids to the health industry has been telehealth, which allows doctors to examine and diagnose health issues remotely, in order to mitigate the health risks of face-to-face examinations. The concept of telehealth has been applied to the superyacht industry for the process of examining a vessel’s machinery thanks to the development of condition monitoring systems, which allow crew members to monitor the health of machinery onboard and be alerted (via phone or computer) when a defect has been detected, or if the machine needs to be serviced, alongside other features.
According to Advanced Mechanical Enterprises, the industry should anticipate more strict guidelines for onboard contractors in the foreseeable future, meaning that condition monitoring is possibly the safest way to keep track of maintenance needs.
"Condition monitoring is safer and more reliable than face-to-face examinations because it mitigates health risks of in-person meetings during COVID-19, and it alerts you when a defect is detected rather than the crew finding out during their next yard period, or worse - when a failure happens out at sea" - Rich Merhige, President, Advanced Mechanical Enterprises
Condition monitoring is the process of monitoring the condition of a machine, so that any deviations from the baseline data will alert the crew that they have a problem brewing. “Condition monitoring is safer and more reliable than face-to-face examinations because it mitigates health risks of in-person meetings during COVID-19, and it alerts you when a defect is detected rather than the crew finding out during their next yard period, or worse - when a failure happens out at sea,” began Rich Merhige, President, Advanced Mechanical Enterprises/AMESOLUTIONS.COM.
Depending on the type of condition monitoring system already on board, it is possible for a vessel to use this service for the first time completely remotely. “If a vessel owns a vibration data collector like the Vibscsanner 2 from PRUFTECHNIK, crew can collect data and send it onshore remotely,” said Merhige, however, if a vessel requires a more advanced online condition monitoring system, a one-time installation is required.
Understandably, the service has become more popular over the past few months during a time when people could not necessarily reach the vessel to inspect defects, however, another benefit of the service is that it can minimise spend on a vessel due to faults being detected early and more accurately. “This is one of the main benefits of condition monitoring,” commented Merhige. “Even though it is often practised, the ‘fix it as it breaks’ tactic is always more expensive. One equipment failure can lead to a ripple effect, where other equipment surrounding the machinery will also start to fail,” he continued.
With this service, yacht operators now have the ability to transport the data, not the contracted person, which also saves time and travel costs. “The services are highly preferable for crew and contractors, as it mitigates person-to-person exposure by taking and sending data remotely for analysis. It is also more favourable as these services eliminate contractor and vessel travel,” concluded Merhige.
Premium condition monitoring services include continuous remote monitoring that tie into the vessels control system, issue automatic alerts/alarms/warnings when problems are detected and will e-mail said alarms. Others services include handheld, portable equipment that onboarding personnel can use to monitor critical equipment periodically.
With the demand and favourability of remote systems and remote working over the past few months by many sectors of the industry, it is likely that these services will only continue to increase in popularity and demonstrate their reliability.
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