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Mobil Serv℠ Cylinder Condition Monitoring data reveals biggest engine challenges

The introduction of the IMO’s 0.50% sulphur cap, combined with economic pressures and the evolving needs of engine designs, has resulted in the resurgence of a range of engine challenges for vessel operators.

Through our Mobil Serv℠ Cylinder Condition Monitoring service, our marine team has been able to analyse data from over 650,000 samples1, revealing which challenges are most prominent since the implementation and insights that can help to combat these issues.

Worryingly, the data suggests that just 11% of vessels are now operating at the correct feed rate, down from 50% last year. This is likely to be the result of vessel operators having to develop experience of new low sulphur fuels and lubricants. This is exacerbated by the needs of different engine designs and operating environments. Even similar engines may require substantially different feed rates, which could further complicate the issue, so having a monitoring system in place to catch issues early is essential.

Our findings also show that 51% of vessels have cat fines above OEM limits, a 19% increase on 2019. This indicates that onboard preventative measures are insufficient as the global average cat fine content of 2020 delivered sample data is similar to that of 2019. To reduce this risk, ExxonMobil’s guidance is to always bunker fuel that meets the latest ISO spec (ISO 8217:2017) and if damaging levels of cat fines are detected, run both purifiers in parallel with minimum throughput.

A surprising 50% of vessels show signs of system oil leakage, up from 39% year-on-year. This is the result of issues with seals in the stuffing box, which can lead to harmful levels of contamination of cylinder oil in the sump/system oil. This issue is most likely caused by inadequate preventative maintenance of the stuffing box seals.

Wear due to cold corrosion was evident in 19% of samples, a 4% annual increase. This is predominantly due to vessels fitted with scrubbers switching to a high sulphur fuel. ExxonMobil recommends the use of a high BN cylinder oil to combat the problem.

ExxonMobil’s next generation Mobil Serv Cylinder Condition Monitoring service is designed to help optimise engine protection and reduce operating costs. By delivering actionable recommendations and guidance within minutes of completing a test, it ensures issues are identified and can be proactively addressed before they take hold.

Click here to find out more about the service.

1 Statistics taken from FES analysis of Mobil Serv Cylinder Condition Monitoring data gathered in 1Q20.

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