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Title: Continual On-Line Analysis of Shipboard Lubrication and Fuel Systems Using Vision Technology to Classify and Report Solids and Water Content

Author(s): Thomas M. Canty, P.E. and Paul O'Brien, J.M. Canty


Analysis of ship board fuels and lubricants is a critical function in order to maintain operational availability on a continuing basis. Knowing the condition of these fluids usually requires manual sampling and laboratory analysis which is a time consuming, labor intensive exercise. Ideally smart ships would employ instrumentation that would provide near real time feedback on a continuing basis to a central monitoring location thereby allowing up to the minute status and trends on all fuel and lubricating systems without human intervention required. Vision instrumentation would provide near real time analysis, accurate classification between solids and water within the fuels and lubricants, visual verification of fluid status and data outputs centralized for single operator review.

1. Ship board systems that would benefit from on-line monitoring include aviation fuels loaded into bunkers and into vehicles and ship engines. Solid particulate and water both impact engine performance, but in a different way. Solids can plug filters leading to reduced performance due to fuel delivery limitations. Solids also can wear engine parts. Water is especially problematic for aviation vehicles as it can freeze at altitude causing serious flight consequences.
2. Lubrication systems are the lifeblood of the ship. When contamination is present moving parts of the drive train can wear and even cease to function. Contamination usually comes from the particulate generated when moving parts rub against each other, so analysis of the particulate can be insightful to the operating integrity of the equipment. Analysis can show if wear rates are normal or abnormal, and what kind of wear is present as described in ASTM D7596.
3. Technical points of vision system operation will be detailed including particle detection methods, particle analysis profiles including the capability to classify solids vs water, benefits of the visual component in making judgments regarding the status of operating systems based on fuel and lubricant analysis.
4. Data distribution, locally and to shore installations, will be reviewed. Data is normally transferred via OPC protocol, however others are available. Data outputs focus on particle counts and size and shape distributions. This data does not require much bandwidth and can be sent to shore based installations for further analysis and planning of maintenance activities to be conducted at the next return to port (images and video can also be sent at greater bandwidth). This strategy maximizes the operational information ship board for a small crew as well as the effectiveness of maintenance and engineering personnel on shore to assist in current trouble shooting activities and resource allocation to optimize future servicing events and system design.
5. In conclusion, the paper will describe, in words and graphics, an example network with functional scenarios and benefits associated with visual analysis of the fuel and lubricant systems.