Solent Towage Ltd (STL), the UK arm of Norwegian marine services company, Ostensjo Rederi AS, has saved over 60-man hours since December 2013 by installing gplink, the remote monitoring and tracking solution from Finning Power Systems (Finning) for Cat® engines.
The company, which operates a fleet of seven tugboats off the UK’s south coast, two of which use Cat engines, became the first commercial Finning customer in the UK to use gplink.
Some vessels in Solent Towage’s fleet are chartered for 186 days per year by the operator of a large oil refinery in the area. According to the charter, fuel consumed by the STL fleet is provided by the refinery. However, any fuel used by the fleet outside of this chartered period, when the vessels are available for outside work, becomes the responsibility of STL. This consumption has to be recorded and verified by both parties to ensure fuel supplied under the charter isn't being used for off-hire third party work.
Prior to the installation of gplink, this time-consuming, manual process involved a third-party surveyor visiting the vessels, photographing and recording fuel levels, before sending this information to the oil refinery where it would have to be once again verified for accuracy. gplink has eradicated this process, generating fuel usage reports automatically when the tugboats are in use. These reports are then emailed to the refinery, where there is now no need for additional verification.
Commenting on gplink, Simon Axcell, Chief Engineer at Solent Towage, said: “We initially trialed the gplink system as a means to prove fuel consumption during off-hire periods. Since the trial, it has gone above and beyond our expectations in terms of how much time it has saved us, and the potential it has to help us optimise other aspects of our fleet management. We’ve now completely abandoned the old time consuming system, which has really helped improve our working relationship with the oil refinery.
“Since it was installed in December 2013, gplink has saved more than 60 man-hours for Solent Towage and the refinery. The charterer has been so impressed that they are now keen for us to have the system installed in all the other vessels in our fleet. We will also be looking at how we can utilise the system to improve our fleet usage further through actively monitoring other elements of the Cat engines.”
"Through the gplink system, we are now able to trend the vessel's fuel consumption during various operating conditions and, using the data collected, we have gained a better understanding of how these figures differ depending on how the vessel is being used. This has led us to modify certain operating parameters in order to reduce our overall fuel consumption. Not only will this reduce our operating costs but it also reduces our impact on the environment".
The gplink system offers a number of additional benefits including remote monitoring, location tracking, security alerts and log reports, as well as recording engine history for up to seven years. The system is monitored 24/7 by a team of specialists, so information that can be used to optimise fleet management is always available.
Dan Maund, Product Support Account Manager for Marine Services at Finning added: “It’s encouraging to see what a positive impact gplink has had for Solent Towage. The fact that the charterer is now pushing for installation of the system across the rest of the fleet is a testament to its time saving potential, and the accuracy of the information generated in the reports.”