Electronic Monitoring Will Lead The Way
The emerging IMO regulations for NOx and SOx emissions from marine vessels prompt the question: Does the marine diesel engine have a future, or will gas turbines take over? While the future of marine propulsion systems is indeed complex, with no one standard answer for every application, it is clear that the importance of reliable operation is being stressed over and over again by ship operators. The challenge, then, for engine builders, is to identify and achieve the margines necessary for ensuring high reliability in a product which is also competitively positioned and priced. As the market is characterized by strong competition, the first cost of the engine is often the decisive factor for securing an order. This, in turn, forces both engine developers and engine builders to focus on cost reductions in engine design and manufacturing. When assessing reliability, it is important to keep in mind that no chain is stronger than its weakest link: The reliability of the engine does not only depend on the design and manufacturing quality, but also on operational aspects such as load conditions for the engine, fuel oil quality and treatment, lube oil quality and dosage, maintenance standards and spare part quality.
While most of these are outside the engine designer's influence and control, the engine designer can contribute to improving the general running conditions and reducing the need for maintenance of the engine. Modern engine condition monitoring and maintenance planning systems may include the accumulated service know-how from a vast number of engines. If such systems are implemented and used by the vessel's staff, the engine can be kept in optimum condition with a minimum of maintenance.The use of electronic software and hardware products will increase tremendously in the future. When properly used, they should contribute to improving engine reliability and reducing maintenance as well as running costs. While electronics and advanced monitoring and management systems have become the norm in many phases of the maritime market, the same is not true for similar systems in regard to the main engine. In the next five to 10 years, the situation is expected to change significantly, much as what has happened in the automotive industry, where technology has gone from limited use on expensive cars to extensive use even in smaller, less-costly models. This development has been triggered, largely by the need to control engine emisions, and has been facilitated by achievements in the computer industry to reduce size and cost of components.
The preceding was excerpted from Marine Propulsion Systems An Outlook, from MAN B&W.
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