A watchful eye can end downtime disasters

09 Nov 2017 Reading time calculated text

Unplanned downtime for operational equipment can result in the nightmare scenario of high repair costs and a loss of both income and reputation. MacGregor knows that it is impossible to entirely eliminate the chance of breakdowns, which can be the result of human error, environmental conditions or mechanical failure.

“Lifting operations using heavy, advanced machinery present potential downtime problems. On the rare occasions when failures and breakdowns occur, it is vital to restore normal service as quickly as possible, particularly as a simple component failure can stop the equipment and the entire operation,” says John Carnall, Senior Vice President, MacGregor Global Lifecycle Support.

Prevention is best

“We offer extremely effective on-demand and emergency services, but MacGregor believes that it is even better to try to prevent these events from happening in the first place,” Mr Carnall adds. “However, this is not as easy as it seems; emerging failures are often not recognised or not possible to recognise. We are therefore turning to sensor data to detect changes that are not perceivable to humans.”

In the offshore industry, the prolonged malfunction of a subsea crane could cost the owner or the end customer hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, in addition to new planned maintenance agreements, MacGregor currently offers offshore operators immediate technical support services via OnWatch, a secure online remote diagnostic system and 24/7 access to an expert support team.

Building on several years’ experience with this service, MacGregor has developed OnWatch Scout, which connects equipment to advanced monitoring systems that constantly analyse component condition and predict maintenance needs. The information is then made available to the customer through an internet-based portal. This portal is the interface for managing maintenance tasks including live updates, notifications of upcoming issues, access to documentation and bulletins, and interactive communication with OnWatch experts.

Essential customer input

The team developing the new, predictive service has spoken at length with customers about their wishes and expectations. “The majority of customers want optimised maintenance schedules and a greater degree of predictability,” says Cathrine Vikebakk Stien, Project Manager, Advanced Offshore Solutions, MacGregor. “Operators have also asked us for improvements in information about equipment condition and maintenance needs, and requested closer connections to our service expertise.”

Eivind Engenes, Manager Engineering & Technical Support, Advanced Offshore Solutions, continues: “In addition to detecting component errors, OnWatch Scout analyses equipment condition and predicts future unwanted scenarios. It detects if there are patterns in component state or equipment behaviour, which by experience, and in the future artificial intelligence, can indicate the potential risk of failure.

“In short, we replicate our technical knowledge into advanced algorithms to predict these failures and make it digitally available to our customers. It is all about shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach."

“Increasing equipment uptime will provide real value to MacGregor customers, enhancing their operations and their profitability,” he adds.

We offer extremely effective on-demand and emergency services, but MacGregor believes that it is even better to try to prevent these events from happening in the first place 

- John Carnall  

Intelligent cargo handling

OnWatch Scout is a part of the MacGregor digital portfolio and is a notable example of how the company is using digitalisation to offer enhanced services to customers.

“Strengthening our digital portfolio is part of a strategy to lead the industry in intelligent cargo handling,” says Håkon Jørgensen, Director, Digitalisation, MacGregor. “OnWatch Scout is a service specifically targeted at solving a problem for MacGregor customers by using intelligent software. We currently have thousands of operational merchant and offshore cranes, which can be connected and benefit from this service.”

The majority of customers want optimised maintenance schedules and a greater degree of predictability

- Cathrine Vikebakk Stien

“In addition to these existing cranes, OnWatch Scout forms part of a wider increase in the market potential for performance-based deliveries.

“If we can offer guarantees for performance-capacity and uptime, there will be new business opportunities that will supplement – perhaps even replace – traditional equipment deliveries,” Mr Jørgensen notes. “OnWatch Scout could be a crucial solution for offering extended services and forming new business models.”

Mr Jørgensen believes that OnWatch Scout is also an important step towards remote and autonomous operations.

A prototype OnWatch Scout service will be trialled on the offshore and merchant cranes of leading operators throughout the next twelve months and plans to expand the service to other products are ongoing.

Big bills: unplanned downtime

  • Loss of revenue
  • Expensive express repairs
  • Rental of substitute equipment or ship
  • Reputation damage, making it harder to win new contracts