Top Four Benefits of Effective Ship Engine Maintenance

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Ship engine maintenance, though seemingly costly and time-consuming, can be highly beneficial when planned effectively. Proper maintenance helps avoid unpleasant and expensive surprises.

1st benefit – Avoiding unpleasant and expensive surprises

Proper maintenance of critical engine components is essential to prevent potential issues down the line. Neglecting these components can lead to failures, resulting in more extensive and costly repairs. Additionally, insufficient attention to critical components can compromise fuel oil economy, increase operational expenditure (OPEX), and affect compliance, thereby escalating associated costs. Key engine components that require diligent care include cylinder heads (comprising valves and valve seats), injection equipment (such as the nozzle and plunger), anti-polishing rings and piston-related components, and the charge air system (encompassing the cooler, turbocharger, and air intake).

2nd benefit – Improve the reliability and efficiency of ship engine

Good maintenance practices are essential for optimizing your engine’s reliability and efficiency. For instance, adhering to proper maintenance procedures can prevent issues when switching from one type of fuel to another. If your engine was originally designed for residual fuel but now runs on distillate fuel without an increase in auxiliary cooling capacity, the lower viscosity of the new fuel might delay fuel injection timing. This can lead to faster wear of components and higher fuel consumption. By following good maintenance practices, you can avoid these problems and maintain your engine’s performance.

3rd benefit is saving fuel and money

You might be surprised to learn that each critical component category significantly impacts your engine’s overall fuel consumption. For example:

  • Charge air system – up to 2%
  • Cylinder unit – up to 1%
  • Fuel injection system – up to 1.5%

Although these percentages seem small, when burning thousands of tons of fuel annually, every drop saved translates to money in the bank and reduced emissions. Maintaining these components properly helps protect your bottom line, including EU ETS costs and potential FuelEU Maritime penalties, while enhancing your CII rating. In fact, well-executed maintenance could reduce your fuel bill by 50% of the amount spent on an overhaul.

4th benefit – You can reduce emissions

The IMO’s CII regulations came into effect in January 2023. Currently, 45% of the merchant fleet risks non-compliance if no action is taken soon. As a result, many ship owners and operators are seeking ways to save energy, since every drop of fuel saved can improve their vessel’s CII rating, making it more attractive to potential charterers. Fortunately, a well-planned and executed maintenance program can help keep your vessel compliant for longer, even as CII regulations become stricter over time.

For instance, a simplified simulation of a bulker vessel with a large bore 4-stroke main engine shows that:

  • With proper maintenance, the vessel remains compliant into 2026 and potentially beyond.
  • Without proper maintenance, the vessel could require a corrective action plan by 2025.

The maintenance decisions you make can significantly impact your long-term OPEX.

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Source: Wartsila