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At Crowley Maritime Corporation, boat-rocking has been part of the culture for nearly 125 years. Now they’re changing things up again by outfitting a tugboat called Guide with a proven condition monitoring and diagnostics system from Caterpillar.
As Guide does its job, Cat® Asset Intelligence’s onboard technology immediately analyzes data from the engines, generators, thrusters and other key systems to provide actionable information to the onboard crew, while also transmitting selected appropriate data ashore to be further analyzed and used by shore-based managers and experts. Everything is automated from data capture and aggregation to analytics and recommendations. But there’s a human element involved, too - experienced fleet advisors dig deep into the data, identifying strategies to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
“This process is in place in mines and factories,” says Bill Metcalf, Vice President of Strategic Engineering for Crowley Maritime. “It’s the next logical step in marine technology and we want to be early adopters.”
A governance team is assessing the value of the system and will determine whether and when to add it to other vessels in the Crowley Maritime fleet. Although the technology is still under review, Metcalf is quick to cite a long list of benefits.
“It’s very scalable and customizable. Plus, it will monitor and analyze anything—not just Cat products. It gives us early warning of a catastrophic failure so we can schedule maintenance. And it saves time and money during the inspection process.”
“It can help keep our vessels and people out of harm’s way,” he continues. “And the fuel savings, especially on larger vessels, could be huge.”
On smaller vessels like Guide, which operate with a limited crew, remote monitoring has another big benefit.
“Guide is a four-man boat,” Metcalf explains. “That means the chief engineer also serves as a deckhand. This technology makes his job easier, and as it’s accessible for the engineering staff, it adds another set of eyes on the vessel, another level of comfort for the captain and operations team.”
Metcalf expresses confidence in his company’s latest attempt to rock the boat.
“Caterpillar has been a good partner for many years and they’ve been at this for a long time. Their system is robust and does all the key monitoring and analysis we need. We’re looking at it as the next level of management and optimization and want to see how it can help us increase reliability, safety and efficiency.”
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