Home / Shipping News / International Shipping News / Digital valve management: faster, safer and less wasteful

Digital valve management: faster, safer and less wasteful

Valve maintenance is an essential element in ensuring seaworthiness: without the right valves, in good condition, a vessel is not fit to sail. In these circumstances, owners and operators can rapidly lose valuable operational time while trying to source and replace a faulty or worn valve. Identifying and sourcing the right replacement valve is not a simple task. There is a huge amount of information needed to check that a valve is fit for service and often, the only way to find it is a laborious sift through paperwork. This can be an extensive process and, while taking time to identify and order appropriate replacement valves is always worthwhile, it is a process which can be streamlined. Indeed, set against the backdrop of a growing backlog at shipyards and ongoing supply chain disruption, it is important that ship operators take every opportunity to boost the efficiency of their drydock projects.

The benefits of digitalisation

Digital technology is recognised across the shipping industry as a way to realise efficiencies, and valve surveying is no exception. While the first applications of digital technology in the maritime industry focussed on operations, its benefits are now spreading to vessel management. By putting relevant data more easily into the hands of vessel managers, they are better able to make the right decisions in good time. When the ship manager has access to detailed information about the valves onboard a vessel, they will be able to know which parts need replacing and make better informed decisions about what replacements are required.

Many vessel operators lack even basic identifying information about the valves they have on board, such as type, material, age, or size. Nor do they have the skills and knowledge to accurately identify the valve they need when ordering a replacement. However, by combining technical expertise with proven digital technology, operators can make these important tasks much easier. A team of expert technicians specialised in maritime products can conduct a thorough survey of the valves onboard a vessel in just a day and can immediately begin sourcing high-quality replacements where required.

RFID technology boosts efficiency in pre-drydock valve surveys

By digitalising the survey process using RFID tags containing essential data on specifications, condition and operational history and attaching them to each valve, expert technicians simplify the process of surveying and make it easier and quicker the next time a vessel is scheduled for drydocking. The RFID tag attached to a valve stores large amounts of specific and detailed information, such as the valve’s size, its installation date and any testing certificates. Crucial for safety, if the valve has an actuator, the RFID tag will contain information for calibrating the actuator properly. All this information, stored on the digital tag, can be accessed at any time using a simple smartphone app. This can help non-specialist crews to quickly determine when a valve needs to be replaced, and easily identify exactly the replacement parts needed. By storing all relevant information in one easily accessible location, all parties involved in valve procurement can be confident that the right valve has been identified and ordered, accelerating the process considerably.

Kristof Adam

RFID technology Increases safety on board

The availability of information on valve condition also increases safety on board. Poorly maintained or inappropriate valves could present several hazards, such as the release of pressurised or hazardous materials that are harmful to human health or that could cause serious system failures – a risk even more pronounced on vessels with volatile cargos or on passenger vessels such as ferries.

Additionally, valves have a huge range of specifications that cannot be identified by a non-expert observer, such as the different materials of the valve, especially the lining. These particular maintenance needs, suited to the specifics of the valve’s operational life, cannot be overlooked. Digitalising the valve identification process in this way helps to save time in the dry-docking process, without risking the safety of the valve or its operators.

Why shipowners cannot afford to delay the digital transformation

A digital overhaul of valve management simultaneously increases the speed and safety of the valve identification and procurement process. Data which is made available using RFID tags enables the vessel manager to quickly and easily spot any repairs or replacements to be made as soon as they are needed, whether during normal operations, during an inspection or in dry-dock, helping operators resolve problems before they become potentially unsafe.

As supply chain disruption continues around the world, and backlogs at shipyards persist, shipowners cannot afford to waste time or compromise on their valve maintenance procedures – using digital technology and partnering with a reliable supplier is the only sensible choice to make. By partnering with specialist companies, and access to expert teams, shipowners can keep vessels running safely anywhere in the world.
Source: By Kristof Adam, Managing Director Europe, W&O Supply, Arranged on Behalf of Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide (www.hellenicshippingnews.com)

Recent Videos

Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide Online Daily Newspaper on Hellenic and International Shipping