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There’s an old joke in the marine industry: if owners added up all the fuel savings offered to them by suppliers, their vessels would produce fuel rather than burn it. So, what makes Multi-Engine Optimizer (MEO) different? Well, MEO works as well in practice as it does in theory. And provides savings that are there for all to see. Now, that’s a punchline guaranteed to raise a smile.
”But according to that old marinev industry joke, vessel owners have heard all this before. Right? Well, perhaps this time, it’s different?
Over the years, suppliers have invested vast sums of money researching smoother growth-resistant hull coatings, more efficient electrical systems, weather-current patterns, propulsion designs and ways to make internal combustion engines squeeze more electrical energy out of every last drop of fuel. But even though these methods produce results, the benefits are often buried so deeply within the vessel, they are hard to find, let alone optimize. With MEO, however, this is not the case. Because with MEO, the benefits are — quite literally —there for all to see.
We’re in Aberdeen —or the Granite City, as it’s known in these parts. The rain is falling and the sky is as grey as the rock that gave this Scottish port its nickname. But despite the gloomy weather, the mood onboard the VOS Partner vessel is bright. Because today, the crew are working on the Cat® Multi-Engine Optimizer (MEO). This the first MEO prototype to be fitted on a vessel. And it will take more than a few rainclouds to dampen everyone’s enthusiasm.
“We’re very excited about this,” says T.E. “Dra” Wiersema, Product Manager at Caterpillar. “Because MEO is a unique product.. One that optimizes fuel, reduces emissions and reduces maintenance costs.
First of all, MEO is not a power management system. It is an advisory system that provides power management systems with the information they need to deliver the highest possible levels of performance, reliability and efficiency. In short, MEO helps optimize everything – whether it’s fuel economy, maintenance intervals, emissions output or engine response.
And, because MEO is an advisory system, it doesn’t displace existing components. Instead, it is overlaid against a vessel’s current power management system – regardless of which system the vessel uses. So, when you turn MEO off, the power management system continues to function exactly as it would normally.
But there’s more to MEO than this.
MEO utilizes proprietary fuel maps and patented control algorithms to enable vessels with multiple power sources and multiple load factors to operate at maximum fuel, emissions, or response efficiency through map-based egine prioritization and the capability to select differentiated engine specific load points.
In short, MEO helps you create unique combinations of engines, which allow each engine to operate in their peak efficiency zones at multiple vessel load points. You can combine medium speed with high speed, large engines with small engines – you can even mix batteries – in a way that reduces fuel consumption, improves emissions, limits engine wear and, most importantly, gets the job done.
So, how did the VOS Partner Vessel fare at sea with the MEO prototype onboard? After all, MEO was designed to deliver in practice, not just in theory.
After a 23-week period operating in the North Sea, the VOS Partner Vessel achieved an average total of 7% fuel savings. The highest recorded saving per week was 14% and the lowest was 2%. The 2% savings were recorded when the vessel was off contract and often anchored, while the 14% saving was recorded in conditions that provided the perfect opportunity for MEO to save fuel.
Of course, the amount of savings provided by MEO depends on a number of different factors, e.g. engine options, the capability of the existing power management device, the load, the willingness of the crew to use MEO and the duration of the load changes. What is certain though is that MEO offers value. Not just to owners, but to designers, nonowning operating companies, maintenance personnel – even shipyards and the system integrator can benefit from this unique advisory system. But what about you?
“Well, if you have a vessel with multiple engines and a load profile that spends less than 60% of its time within any 20% band of the vessels maximum power then, it’s likely, your vessel will benefit from the MEO system,” says Dra Wiersema, Product Manager at Caterpillar. “At Caterpillar, we truly believe that with access to the proprietary fuel, emission and response maps, and the use of the patented control algorithms, there is no system that can beat the efficiency of MEO from a power management perspective.”
“I think there’s a big future in this,” says the captain of the OS Partner. “Vroon thinks so too. That is why we are focusing on the MEO system. It will be very important for the future.”
Quick-to-install. Very, very safe. Saves fuel and reduces emissions. It seems that with the Caterpillar MEO system installed as part of your crew, the future of your vessel can look very bright indeed. So, can we stop telling that old joke now?
Patented control algorithms enable dynamic asymmetric load allocation and customer-specific operating parameters.
Proprietary fuel maps let MEO know the exact combinations of engines and load points needed to drive efficiency.
MEO makes it possible to use variable speed and constant speed generator sets on one bus, leveraging the low-load advantages of variable speed with the high-load advantages of constant speed.
MEO enables the combined used of different engine sizes and types, lowering fuel consumption, improving emissions and providing a faster transient response —all at lighter weight.
Each engine operates at a load point independent of the other engines, while MEO maintains system stability.
The VOS Partner was the first vessel to be fitted with a prototype of the Cat® Multi-Engine Optimizer (MEO). And the fact that the uniqueness of MEO actually optimizes fuel, reduces emissions and reduces maintenance costs, truly is amazing. Get the hard facts and be ready for Cat MEO.