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Reliable bunkering practices enhanced by new technologies

Reliable bunkering practices enhanced by new technologies

Fuel costs make up to 30% - 70% of the overall ship operating costs, depending on the ship type. Hence, it is impor­tant to accurately quantify the amount of bunker fuel used on the vessel using the Coriolis Mass Flow Metering (MFM) system.

Using Mass Flow Meters (MFM) is important as a starting point towards effective bunkering monitoring. Indeed, unlike measurement of volume, mass is not dependent on changes in temperature or pressure. Hence, measurement of mass flow is more accurate without the need for temperature and pressure correction. With its long experience and understanding of accurate bunkering monitoring, robust Data Acquisition and machine learning technics (i.e. classification problems) Ascenz developed a new approach to automati­cally filter down operations which may have significant anomalies.
 

Fig.3 Shipulse BunkerXchange with real-time information from MFM
 

Fig.3 Shipulse BunkerXchange with real-time information from MFM

 

Path towards accuracy

Having completed several hundred projects of bunker measurement system using MFM, Ascenz has pointed out three main sources of error: partially filled pipes, excessive aeration and the presence of dead volumes when quantifying amount of bunker.

Before leveraging latest digital advancements of its team, Ascenz looks at the most important steps critical for the path towards accuracy.

First, credibility of bunkering measurements is ensured with proper meter selection.

The meters are selected based on the required certification (marine approval among others), with careful sizing (with relevant process data). The quality of the sensor is critical. This is why Ascenz distributes its own Mass Flow Meter.
 

Fig.4 Coriolis Mass Flow Meter design
Fig.4 Coriolis Mass Flow Meter design


The second important parameter is the “art of installing” the sensor (pipeline layout, space constraints). This improves the line packing, consisting of having full pipes most of the time and as quickly as possible.

Then, the system integrity shall be ensured by completing the previous steps with acceptance test and the system monitoring during operations.
 

Fig.5 Schematic view of potential areas of dead volume during bunkering

Fig.5 Schematic view of potential areas of dead volume during bunkering
 

Smart Bunkering

Ascenz’s digital solution, BunkerXchange, is designed to acquire the MFM key data (mass flow rate (t/h), density (kg/m3), temperature (°C), drive gain (%), and totalising of the bunker fuel), store and display the data both onboard and onshore. The team recently created and developed Smart Bunkering, an innovative way to analyse the bunkering profile data.

With the different combinations of data, automatic identification and classification of operations can be done throughout the entire bunkering process. The bunkering data are also used for predictive bunkering, where the flow rate, density and frequency can be modelled and are compared to the actual data set of the bunkering process. Deviations between the predicted data set and the actual data set will be used for alerting any possible safety breaches or malpractices. 

Smart Bunkering also leverages machine-learning technologies to rate and score MFM bunker transfer operations. This solution allows operations and procurement staff to have automated analysis on each bunkering operation and on the overall performance and activity trends. All bunker events, including start and end of bunker, bunker abnormality, tank changes and entrained air, are automatically classified. From there, further investigations can be raised for review.
 

Fig.6 Examples of abnormalities detected using bunkering data

Fig.6 Examples of abnormalities detected using bunkering data

A real time evaluation of bunker profile helps to draw immediate attention and required actions when abnormalities are detected. A smart scoring system showing the overall bunker efficiency in complete transparency allows users to compare and evaluate numerous bunkers profiles and carry out procurement assessment.

 

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