Matson Cuts Fuel Consumption

James J. Sweeney*

Matson Navigation Company recognized the importance of a long-range shipboard energy conservation program by eary 1977.

At that time management authorized a study of alternative approaches to the problem, with the objective of developing a strong, systematic, and effective means of dealing with its many facets. Government and maritime industry conservation efforts were reviewed and it was concluded that the problem justified creation of a new position, Manager of Shipboard Energy Conservation.

The first order of business was of course to outline a program, define both general and initial specific objectives, and establish milestones to gauge progress.

Based on the acknowledged achievements of others, the following prospectus was drafted: Management Goals For 1979 A. The overall objective is to minimize fleet fuel consumption without adversely affecting transportation service. A five percent reduction is considered a reasonable target for the first one to two years, and it is intended to accomplish at least the first half of this amount, or roughly a two and one-half percent reduction in fuel consumption, by the end of 1979. The following features describe the scenario selected.

1. Concentrate attention on the new/large ships of the fleet.

2. Give priority consideration to underway at-sea (as opposed to dockside) operations.

3. Begin by ensuring that optimum efficiency is being achieved with the existing capital plant.

4. Following (3) (above) define and proceed with capital expenditures deemed necessary and justified to further improve vessel economy.

B. Establish close liaison with seagoing personnel and assure their cognizance and support of program goals.

1. Initiate frequent visits to ships. Become familiar with crews, procedures, and hardware.

Confer with ship officers and engineers.

Review the conservation imperative. Solicit their suggestions.

Report findings and recommendations.

2. As time and priorities permit, publish an energy conservation newsletter, highlighting specific program goals and accomplishments and furnishing vessel operating and maintenance guidelines.

C. Establish a central office file of vessel voyage performance data and fuel conservation information.

1. Develop new forms for vessel data logging to enhance evaluation of energy consumption and efficiency.

2. Review data submitted. Note discrepancies from design and builders' trial data. Define and initiate corrective action as required.

3. Maintain files for future reference and trend analyses.

Specific Goals For 1979 A. Select a suitable boiler flue gas analyzer system to enhance regulation of minimum combustion air.

B. Evaluate improved boiler air registers for fuel savings and application to other vessels.

C. Establish a set of vessel performance curves to define fuel consumption variations with speed, displacement, trim, and time out of dock (or since hull cleaning) to enable accurate comparison of ships and voyages.

D. Evaluate self-polishing copolymer (SPC) bottom paint.

E. Investigate present and projected fuel oil quality characteristics, and assess the utility of alternative fuel oil modification systems.

The foregoing goals were selected to achieve an equitable balance of practical and theoretical considerations, eventually leading to a "comprehensive" conservation effort. With the managerial and technical resources available, there is no side of ship energy utilization which cannot eventually be subjected to scrutiny and evaluation. The only limitations are the perceived value of the subject (requiring engineering judgment and the ordering of priorities) and the time frame available to complete assessment and implement necessary action.

The First Phase One of the most critical periods of a shipboard energy conservation program is its introduction aboard vessels. Ship officers and engineers have a crucial role to play which can either make or break the entire effort. In order to gain their support and establish an advantageous rapport, the conservation manager needs to convincingly present these individuals with a number of discreet but related precepts.

He should begin with a review of the cold facts of energy cost and availability. Next, he needs to demonstrate that he is concerned with all aspects of vessel energy consumption and utilization.

The conservation manager must have (and display) a personal interest in ship operating practices, engineering procedures, personnel, machinery, and equipment.

He must also demonstrate sufficient authority to initiate required action in any of these areas.

The seagoing (and port) personnel need to be made cognizant of the energy conservation manager's role as a focal point for energy-related suggestions, questions, complaints, and data. The conservation manager must in turn ensure that both verbal and written communications from either vessels or shoreside are acknowledged upon receipt, promptly evaluated and the originator kept informed of his submissions' progress. By being personally present aboard ship at appropriate intervals, the conservation manager demonstrates that a "hands on" (as well as a theoretical) approach to improved vessel efficiency is recognized as important.

The best means to accomplish program introduction is a series of sea voyages and ship visits in port. Approximately five months were required to complete this phase during which each major fleet unit was visited at least once in port (generally for specific work assignments such as boiler fireside or condenser inspections).

Interspersed with the port visits were sea voyages. These afforded ample time for relaxed interviews with vessel personnel.

Each sea voyage also included at least one full day of recording steady state steam plant performance data. This, in combination with the interviews, personal observations, and daily notations on particular problem areas (such as rudder action, condensate subcooling, etc.) formed the basis of a written trip report. These reports became in turn the subject of management staff meetings, reviewing findings and recommendations.

Program Accomplishments The preparation of this paper conveniently coincided with the first anniversary of the Matson Shipboard Energy Conservation Program. This was an appropriate moment to review achievements.

Vessel statistics are routinely recorded on the Fleet Performance Summary data sheets. Baseline data (representative of "preconservation" performance) were taken from the six-month period July through December 1978. Data from subsequent periods are related to the second half of 1978 to establish percentages, the 1978 numbers representing 100 percent.

In the following paragraphs, performance from August 1979 through January 1980 is compared to the 1978 baseline.

Underway fuel consumption (computed in barrels per mile) fell 9.24 percent. This occurred during a gradual speed reduction of 7.59 percent and an increase in aggregate vessel displacement of 1.31 percent. Both the speed reduction and displacement increase can be attributed to improved cargo-handling facilities.

Correcting for the increased displacement the overall fuel saved is in the order of 10.5 percent, of which roughly 7.25 percent is due to reduced speed, and 3.25 percent is attributable to energy conservation measures.

In-port fuel consumption (measured in barrels per day) fell about 4.7 percent.

Combining the above two categories actual five-vessel savings total 36,455 barrels of fuel oil per year. At an assumed $22 per barrel cost, this represents a conservation figure of $802,000 per year.

Conclusions The above figure is impressive.

It is nevertheless expected to be shortly eclipsed by even greater results as capital investments, particularly in improved air trim control, revised steam cycles, elimination of makeup feed evaporation, and operation at optimum trim begin to pay off. The author believes that the comprehensive approach taken (combining both theoretical and practical considerations of ship energy utilization) has been amply justified and demonstrably successful.

Only one more aspect needs attention, and that is the need for an increase in professional dialogue.

Our industry can benefit enormously by some sort of organized forum on shipboard energy conservation. It is the author's hope that this Symposium will be only the first of many annual events to come. In addition our Society would do well to consider creation of a technical committee dedicated to the subject. A concerned and cooperative effort in this area cannot fail to pay immense dividends to our profession, our industry, and our national interest.

In closing, the author wishes to express personal thanks to the many people, in particular the seagoing engineers and officers, who supported this beginning.

Their contributions have been the key to success.

Other stories from November 15, 1980 issue


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