A little goes a long way
7th March 2013 13:35 GMT

Ships are demanding, and managing them day-to-day can be an arduous task for the ever-decreasing number of crew members tasked with maintaining a vessel. It’s therefore perhaps of little surprise that many of the smaller, routine, operational tasks are often neglected. However, many ship operators are not aware of the great benefits that perceived minor, on-board maintenance can reap amid a market facing the unwanted duality of reduced earnings and escalating costs. For example, simply checking the water levels in oil used by generators and engines can lead to substantial savings and the smooth running of a vessel. On average, testing for oil in water alone can generate efficiencies of more than 70% on shipping costs.

Whatever the equipment, water can displace oil at contacting surfaces, reducing the amount of lubrication and activating surfaces, which may themselves act as catalysts for degradation of the oil. Moreover, water contamination within lubricating oil storage tanks can lead to microbiological growth, forming yeast, mould and bacteria that will clog filters and very rapidly corrode fuel systems.

With financial belts in the shipping industry on their last notch, replacing crucial and costly ship parts is not on any ship owner’s agenda. Other factors such as environmental regulations, crew safety and rising fuel and lubrication costs have taken centre stage.

Nevertheless, Mercy Ships, an international organisation with a mission to increase health care access throughout the world, has experienced the benefits of onboard testing. Through the deployment of the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, Mercy Ships works with host nations to help fill the gaps in health care systems and serve the immediate needs of their population free of charge.

As the Africa Mercy is on an outreach mission in Guinea, being able to test the lube oils on-board is essential. It would be very difficult to have the Africa Mercy serviced so preventing downtime is paramount.

Mercy Ships relies on funds raised through members and charitable donations. Therefore, it is vital to have the right equipment and keep the Africa Mercy in good working condition. Any failures of machinery will result in delayed medical help to those who need it most and unaffordable costs to a charity heavily reliant on fluctuating income. These donations need to go to offering free medical services and humanitarian aid and that’s why maximising the longevity of lube oils in generators is very important. The longer the oil can be kept, the more donation money can be put towards helping more people.

Parker Kittiwake supplies the Africa Mercy with the FG-K2-101-KW EasySHIP Water in Oil reagent pack to test the levels of water in lube oils used by generators and main engines. Parker Kittiwake has recently donated EasySHIP Water in Oil reagent products to ensure they can continue to channel funds into providing care to the people of West Africa.

Dr. Steve Dye,
7th March 2013 13:35 GMT

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