Protecting the integrity of a ship’s hull is extremely important in order to keep a vessel at its top performance. Hull damage or fouling can not only affect the overall speed and fuel efficiency of a ship, but can also be harmful to the crew, cargo, and has the potential to negatively impact surrounding marine life. The physical ability of the ship to cut through the water in an efficient manner is imperative for optimal performance and fuel economy.
One Japanese paint manufacturer has stepped outside of traditional inspection and maintenance practices through the introduction of underwater drone inspections as part of their service. This innovative initiative has enhanced their ability to provide top tier vessel inspections, and lead the way in a highly competitive industry by remaining cost effective while continuing to expand and develop revenue growth.
Established in 1917, Chugoku Paints, is a manufacturing company specializing in marine, industrial and container paints. In addition to the manufacturing and sales of marine paints and industrial paints, Chugoko Paints conducts contract work for coating and the inspection of surface treatments and coatings. The Japanese based company has set a high industry standard of customer service through the development of comprehensive, cost efficient and data driven inspection and maintenance programs for vessels.
As part of continued service, Chugoku Paints offers General Visual Inspection (GVI) examinations of the exterior of the hull of a ship to detect obvious damage, failures and irregularities before they become an issue. Using an ROV to inspect in a convenient and efficient manner allows Chugoku Paints to optimize regular repairs and maintenance.
With the purchase of the underwater drone, Chugoku Paints was able to significantly improve vessel performance through regular hull inspections with their ROV. The ROV made inspections convenient, allowing operators to monitor vessel paints and coatings on a consistent basis so that intelligent and informed decisions about maintenance can be made.
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Yearly inspections of the entire vessel, including the hull and prop are a key part of the passing or failing of necessary surveys. This process has in the past meant a full dry dock of the vessel or an UWILD (Under Water Inspection in Lieu of Drydocking) - both expensive and time consuming options. To assist in this costly and regulated process, surveyors may accept historical time stamped data, like that created by Deep Trekker ROVs, as part of the evaluation process.
Ships are typically delivered with a very low surface roughness at around 75µm. ABS states that after being in regular use, that same ship could enter dry dock with a roughness of 250µm, meaning that it will have been fighting an increased resistance of up to 17%, leading to an increase in fuel consumption of 3 to 4% compared to when it first went into operation. By conducting ROV inspections, operators can conveniently monitor this roughness to maximize fuel efficiency.
Biofouling is also inevitable in the shipping industry. Despite the use of effective anti-fouling systems and operational practices, biofouling may still accumulate on the hull of the vessel. Regular ROV inspections allow for the effective monitoring of this growth to determine the best time for a full cleaning and paint reapplication.
Regular hull inspections allow operators to stay on top of the condition of their ships. By catching small issues before they become larger problems, operations can be effectively scheduled and optimized.
By partnering with Deep Trekker and the use of the ROV, Chugoku Paints has raised the industry standards in both quality and customer service. The introduction of regular inspections that are both cost efficient and support the needs of the customer, have pushed them into the future of ship painting and hull maintenance.
By piloting the ROV from the surface to underneath a ship’s hull, Chugoku is able to inspect the bottom of the vessel from underwater, without drydocking. Chugoku then creates a visual report, including photos from the ROV’s camera, to show the condition of the hull and any areas which might require service or painting. This revenue stream deepens Chugoku’s ability to provide further services to their clients while saving them thousands of dollars.
Mr. DJ Park, the Manager of the Customer Service Center at Chugoku advised, “We at (Chugoku) are using the ROVs to inspect vessels' underwater conditions regularly. It helps us save time and cost since we have operated it. We used divers previously and they would cost over $2,000 usd a day.”
By using the ROV, the Chugoku team has been able to generate a cost-effective revenue stream with maximum benefits for their clients.
The clear and concise data provided in the inspection reports from the ROV’s camera have placed Chugoku as an industry leader in customer service excellence. With recorded video, shipping companies have documented evidence of the integrity of their hulls.
Part of the GVI includes a fouling and cleanliness section, utilized to illustrate barnacle, slime and green sea weed growth on the hull. This kind of visual can help shipping companies to schedule future inspections, cleanings, or pre-emptively plan for maintenance, based on the information provided. As a result of its design, the ROV is able to move along the side of the vessel or the dock and do horizontal transects of the ship, allowing them to accurately determine the position on the hull where attention is required. The rotating camera enables operators to easily view the hull while driving on a horizontal plane.
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