Mass flow metering systems: dispelling the myths and measuring the benefits
The use of mass flow metering systems (MFMS) has gained traction around the world following their mandatory use in the Port of Singapore. As a result, the technology has set a global benchmark for bunkering by ensuring consistent, reliable and efficient bunker delivery in a safe and timely manner, explains Darrick Pang, Managing Director, Metcore International.
Moreover, their use – part of the marine industry’s increasing use of secure digital technologies such as blockchain – has also delivered a significant reduction in bunkering time compared with conventional tank dipping, which can result in substantial savings, too. Nonetheless, some fuel suppliers are hesitant to adopt them because of the perceived high initial cost of investment, despite many business benefits.
A mass flow meter, which has no mechanical moving parts, can be used for more than six years in the marine environment with minimal maintenance cost. In Singapore, some meters have actually been in use for eight to nine years. However, based on a conservative six-year usage, the cost per tonne can be as low as USD$0.17 per metric tonne when using a well-maintained MFMS, over and above any other tangible benefits.
Measuring the benefits
For a MFMS to measure well there are two key factors to consider: the precision of the meter measurement itself and its accuracy when there is fuel aeration and variations in viscosity.
Generally ports have not developed specific measurement guidelines for MFMS applications on bunker vessels. Many therefore follow OIML R117, which has an annex that allows for MFMS to be OIML-certified. In addition, some ports and suppliers (such as ExxonMobil) rely on formalised standards such as the SS648, ISO 22192 and ISO 21562.
In countries or areas where the government and port authorities are still to implement a formalised framework for the use of MFMS in bunkering operations, trusted independent fuel measurement specialists, such as Metcore, can provide impartial expertise to certify their use.
The increased roll-out and acceptance of MFMS in bunker applications has paved the way for the next phase of development in fuel delivery. For example, Metcore has recently launched its MFM+ Program, which encompasses enhanced performance, operational competency of key personnel and the continuous monitoring of bunkering operations. The result – extra peace of mind for all stakeholders.