Enterprise Systems Analytics

Benefits of Maritime Fuel Tracking

As the cost of marine fuel rises, vessel owners are highly incentivized to find methods that permit efficient use. To save both fuel and energy of ships, it is critical to know what quantity of fuel is being consumed and under what conditions. Many fleet operators have difficulty controlling fuel usage because traditional methods for estimation are inadequate; additionally, these methods do not help to gauge the effectiveness of employing new strategies or technologies.

By employing a fuel tracking system, data about consumption can be accurately monitored, permitting usage optimization: Captains can make informed decisions about the amount of power to be applied to achieve maximum fuel efficiency while balancing these constraints against speed required to meet schedules.

A fuel tracking system typically captures a broad spectrum of data, including:
  • Total fuel consumption
  • Fuel consumption per mile or per hour
  • Fuel temperature
  • Engine RPM measurements
  • Engine usage (hours) and maintenance
  • Engine load
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Distance traveled
  • Speed of travel
  • Propeller pitch
  • Propeller load
  • Rudder angle

Once captured, these data can be analyzed by software to determine the best ways to maximize efficiency. Note that to capture events such as a temporary speed-up that significantly increases consumption, this information must be sampled at a high enough rate to avoid missing these details.

Beyond point-optimization of a particular vessel’s fuel consumption, by tracking the fuel data in a fleet-wide database, fuel consumption can be optimized on a much wider scale. By providing data to captains, operations, maintenance, and fleet management, issues can be brought to the fore and be resolved much more quickly. For example, by tracking the performance of several vessels could reveal that a given schedule and payload can be best serviced by a particular vessel, while other boats in the fleet are better suited to handle other routes, ensuring on-time delivery and profit margins across the board.

Real-world experience shows that 10-15% reductions in fuel consumption are achievable by employing such a fuel tracking system. Also, unexplained variance in fuel consumption can raise alerts that inspections of the equipment is required, as failures as small as a defective spark plug can increase fuel consumption by 20-40%.

Finally, fuel theft and illegal discharge of fuel from ship to shore are also unfortunate realities faced by vessel owners. By tracking fuel consumption fleet-wide, these activities can be detected and addressed as they happen.
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