Marine Engine Monitoring: The Importance of Main and Auxiliary Diesel Engine Performance

Blog | November 16th, 2018

Like pretty much every-land-based equipment cluster, manual monitoring methods have become irrelevant on large ships. Main and auxiliary diesel engine performance monitoring has switched over to modern, powerful system scanning solutions. Even the old handheld cylinder analyzing tools, which hookup to RPM sensors, are going the way of the dinosaur. Taking over from this direct-contact approach, online system auditing sensors are being used to automatically monitor marine engine performance.

Manually Conducted Marine Engine Monitoring

In the olden days, when tall smokestacks dominated ship harbours, ship engine rooms were messy, oily places. Today’s engine room technicians still carry out all the dirty work, but they’re also trained to monitor the main and auxiliary diesel engines with advanced portable electronic devices. Attached to cylinder interfaces, the instruments monitor engine performance. Essentially, they take the pulse of the fuel feeds and cylinder-compressed mechanical components. Loaded with data logging components, those handheld engine monitoring instruments can look as uncomplicated as a digital multimeter, but they can also take the form of a tablet-like device, complete with a graphics-laden flatscreen monitor.

Online Ship Systems Analyzing

Integrated as part of a vessel’s primary operational circuit layout, specially mounted sensors record cylinder compression readings and fuel rack flows. Bearing temperatures and power output levels are added to the mix so that a true performance-centric representation of main and auxiliary engine behaviour can be created and monitored in real time. It’s a modular marine engine analyzing solution, with its software and hardware components scaling to meet the demands of any vessel size or configuration. Considering the sheer bulk of some of today’s ocean liners and freight vessels, this is the system that rules the commercial sector, which is as it should be, after all. For the handheld devices, those are left to monitor engine performance in smaller vessels and to check auxiliary/generator efficiency in boats that don’t employ a dual-interface automated monitoring system, one that’s designed to serve both engine forms. Given the choice, if the automated sensors can only analyze one engine, then the instruments and sensors are typically used to monitor the main engines.

Online engine performance monitoring equipment has developed at quite a pace. Ship engineers even have their own control panels, places where they can sit and observe the behaviour of the various propulsion systems. They see the lube oil temperatures and levels, observe drive shaft RPMs and bearing performance. Seeing a hitch in a currently operating engine, or seeing a trend developing, as matched against recorded engine data, the head engineer can easily address the problem by sending out a maintenance and repair team.

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