How to Maximise Returns from Investment in Technology?

Seven Borealis front of Imtech Marine, Rotterdam office
Seven Borealis front of Imtech Marine, Rotterdam office

High revenue-earning ships need a fresh approach to systems integration to take full advantage of available efficiency gains, according to Dutch technical service provider Imtech Marine.


“we have a contribution to make in terms of optimising the use of technology”

Offering a unique blend of maritime-specific ‘cable to data’ expertise, including hardware, software, connectivity, remote monitoring and servicing, the Imtech Marine group is consulting with ship owners in many different markets, from workboats to cruiseships, about how best to maximise returns from investment in technology.

As new emissions regulations loom and fuel price uncertainties resurface, Imtech Marine believes integration offers efficiency gains that will save money on a variable they actually control.

“As a maritime business built on technical knowhow, we have a contribution to make in terms of optimising the use of technology in pursuit of best returns from assets,” says André Meijer, Managing Director Imtech Marine.

“We are a company focused on offering flexible total solutions, so our experience is that buying technology on a one-off basis to address an immediate operational or regulatory challenge often invites open-ended expense later.”
Imtech believes that greater vessel efficiencies are available by integrating technology onboard and data management ashore to create ‘SMART’ infrastructure.

Meijer adds, ”With the complete package we can provide, we are uniquely able to connect hardware, processes, data and people and help to create smart operations and integrated fleet management.”

Imtech Marine's Global Technical Assistance Centre (GTAC), Rotterdam
Imtech Marine’s Global Technical Assistance Centre (GTAC), Rotterdam

Case study evidence

An illustration of the benefits available from integration have been provided by performance results from Hallaig, the first diesel electric, hybrid ferry for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), which came in service in 2013. Imtech Marine’s hybrid DE plus rechargeable battery technology, its Energy Management System and onboard systems optimisation combined to cut the fuel bill by 38%, against a target of 20%.

Imtech’s ability to deliver one-stop solutions recently saw it secure its first complete Integrated Bridge System retrofit for Holland America Line onboard Westerdam, with all navigation and communications hardware and software installed in an eight-day time slot. Two more HAL cruise ships are set to follow.

Eric Clarke, Director Service Americas, says: “There are obvious reasons to upgrade to state-of-the-art technology, but some of the advantages only become available when systems fit together. Control settings can be customised to individual crew or corporate level needs, for example. More specifically, part of the Westerdam project involved optimising the interface between the autopilot and the podded propulsors to deliver fuel savings to the owner.”

Imtech technical integration, as well as its global design and service support capability, was also a feature of complex offshore vessels built in Singapore and Korea, for interests owned by Royal Boskalis Westminster NV, DEME Group and Subsea 7. The supply packages included dynamic positioning (DP), diesel electric propulsion, electrical power systems, vessel management (VMS), automation, navigation and communication, bringing integrated control to the complex balance of coordinated engine, DP-system and thruster operation.

Conceptual design of the Human Machine Interface of the Imtech Marine Energy Management System
Conceptual design of the Human Machine Interface of the Imtech Marine Energy Management System

Enhancing vessel maintenance

Cumulatively, the power of integration is felt most keenly in vessel maintenance, says Nico van Leeuwen, Imtech Marine Director Global Service Sales.

“opportunities are growing to manage service and maintenance without setting foot on the vessel”

“Of course, when a ship needs immediate service, our global network of service locations based on the classic Radio Holland brand, now being relaunched, means qualified service engineers and spare parts are always close by to support maximum vessel ‘up time’.

However, opportunities are growing to manage service and maintenance without setting foot on the vessel, with data accumulated via the onboard IM Maintenance PC, and Imtech’s Global Technical Assistance Centers (GTAC) tuning technologies on individual vessels remotely.”

One direct beneficiary has been Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL), where connectivity issues onboard the heavy lift vessel Oleg Strashnov threatened a contract to lift 23 platforms within 6-months. Here, an integrated approach between the Imtech GTAC and work onboard overcame a six week delay facing service engineers seeking boarding permits.

HAL project
HAL project

Maximising efficiency gains

Wider plant efficiency is critical for cruiseships, says Andre Gebken, Head of Cruise Ship Department, Imtech Marine Schiffbau-/Dockbautechnik.

“To achieve ‘Air in line with demand’, an approach is needed that squeezes every last percentage out of efficiency, with HVAC being controlled by timers, by cabin cards or by C02 sensors,” he says.

“For example, recently we have measured efficiency gains yielded by absorption coatings optimising heat and moisture recovery.”

In addition Imtech has been able to improve payload by using decentralised AC concepts and reducing newbuilding costs by enhancing engine ring and building processes, to deliver ‘slimmer and sharper’ unit designs for example.

The same solutions-driven approach is central to the HelWin Bèta Offshore Wind Energy project in the North Sea, where it was necessary to ensure that the production equipment onboard is cooled, but not over-chilled. Imtech was able to significantly reduce the number of Air Handling Units used, to deliver greater efficiency and achieve a significant weight reduction.

This demanded integrated control of Local Instrument Rooms and Local Equipment Rooms via both Air Handling Units and Chillers (Cold Water Makers), while fan coil units in recesses were able to take care of local cooling or heating.

Imtech Marine was also recently selected by BAE Systems to provide electrical distribution and HVAC systems for the UK’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship Programme, where the need to provide protection against chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear threats added an extra complication.

Meijer comments: “Imtech Marine’s widespread HVAC, CBRN and electrical system integration expertise provided a thorough understanding of the complex interrelationships between power supply and consumer loads.”

Press Release, July 8th, 2014