April 23, 2019
New System Helps Existing Cruise Ship Engines to Run at Better Loads

Without investing in upgrades and retrofits, new Caterpillar technology allows existing cruise ship engines to burn less fuel and run more cleanly while keeping uptime and reliability high. 

Caterpillar developed the Multi-Engine Optimizer (MEO, see picture on the right, by Caterpillar), which lays over the top of a vessel’s existing power management system, and uses proprietary performance maps and control algorithms to advise that system on which engines to operate and at what load. Precise fuel flow measuring for each individual engine results in the lowest possible fuel consumption for the entire system, thereby also reducing emissions.

Extending Maintenance and Overhaul Intervals

The MEO system makes it possible to consolidate more power into every hour of operation, resulting in fewer actual engine hours over the same time span. This allows for extended maintenance and overhaul intervals. The MEO can also balance engine use by hours or fuel, either to synchronise overhaul intervals (making it possible to do all the work during one shutdown) or stagger intervals (making it possible to continue cruising without needing a shutdown at all).

Asset Intelligence

In addition, Caterpillar has also launched Asset Intelligence (AI), a total vessel monitoring solution that collects and analyses data from onboard systems, then provides recommendations on when and how to take action. For example, AI helps reduce fuel burn by analysing fuel and energy performance on board, identifying operational practices and component maintenance issues that add to the fuel bill and recommending ways to address them.

Needs-based Maintenance and Predicting Failures

It is also possible to move from hours-based to needs-based maintenance schedules. Based on engine and vessel performance, AI can tell when maintenance and repairs are actually needed and unnecessary maintenance is prevented. 

Through pattern recognition AI learns about a ship's systems so it can predict failures allowing crews to take appropriate action. AI also sends additional analytics ashore, where engineering experts can review any concerns and work with the ship’s crew or a Caterpillar Fleet Advisor to get ahead of problems.

Both the MEO and AI are easy to integrate into both existing vessels and new ships.