When out to sea, a cruise ship runs day and night without rest. To maintain customer satisfaction in this highly competitive industry, maintenance engineers and teams must handle everything from power inspections/repairs to hotel type maintenance issues such as plumbing or recreational facilities upkeep. When you are hundreds of miles out at sea, failure to perform proper maintenance can lead to catastrophic disasters. Engine failure, fires, corrosion as well as onboard illnesses are just some of the hazards cruise ships must face.

Inspections Are Critical

Cruise liners are essentially self contained utility plants which battle a constant onslaught of corrosion. According to the Handbook of Environmental Degradation of Materials by Myers Kutz, corrosion repairs costs average $200,000 per ship and cruise downtime costs per ship is $1 m which is more than 5 times any other shipping segment. Since corrosion affects everything from deck furniture to boilers, inspections must be conducted frequently.

It is the cost of downtime (dry-dock time) that makes inspections so crucial. Many cruise lines have begun at sea inspections of dry-dock repair items in order to line up the resources necessary to make repairs upon arrival. This strategy can have a significant impact on the number of days the ship is out of service.

Preventive Maintenance is Not an Option

As previously mentioned corrosion affects any surface exposed to water or salt. The cleaning of balconies, floors, rails, table and furniture should be performed on a regularly scheduled basis to avoid corrosion that can shorten the useful lifecycle of an asset. Other important areas for preventive maintenance include

  • Ventilation equipment used to vent engine fumes as well as indoor pollution from smokers.
  • Pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzi’s for safety and compliance issues
  • Kitchen ovens, fuel lines, water feeds to prevent contamination. Cruise lines have a infamous history of disease or illness outbreaks.
  • Boilers for hot water
  • Casino, bar and other common areas. Constant motion increases the probability of machines, storage containers and fittings coming loose.

“Halting viral epidemics on ships may require unusually rigorous measures, such as docking stricken vessels for extreme scrub downs… These measures range from scrubbing public spaces to sterilizing poker chips.”

Source: B. Harder in Science News

As with inspections, preventive maintenance is most effective when scheduled on a regular basis.

How to Use an EAM

An Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system has several great features ideally suited for cruise ships. An EAM provides computerized asset management capabilities over an asset’s useful lifecycle from purchase to replacement. The system can do this because asset detail is defined as well as described in great detail during implementation. This information is then used for scheduling inspections, maintenance and work orders. More importantly cruise lines will know the location and condition of assets at the touch of a button.

Best of Breed EAM solutions make use of rugged but lightweight handheld devices. Once the asset database is set up the following features can be integrated into day to day operations

  • Inspections can be scheduled with pre-selected questions to be answered using handheld devices to determine asset status or action. Results are immediately sent back to maintenance managers for action determination. If necessary, a work order can also be completed saving considerable time over paper based or non-handheld device systems.
  • Preventive maintenance is scheduled with handheld devices recording the time, person, description of action, materials used and results. Results are then transmitted back to management. Preventive maintenance can be set up for any asset and may incorporate any number of methodologies. Objectives include reducing or delaying the impact of corrosion until the ship is dry-docked, limiting liability issues for safety concerns and to maintain all equipment in optimal working order.
  • Work order scheduling. This feature will organize the work flow to improve efficiencies. Scheduling has a positive impact on staff flexibility by increasing the maintenance crew’s ability to handle reactive maintenance issues.
  • Review of work order history. Since all maintenance activities are recorded with the proper detail into the EAM, cruise lines will have the capabilities to more accurately project the asset’s lifecycle as well as a more accurate cost of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO). Different ships can be compared to identify best practices or areas of opportunity.

The preceding are not the only ways an EAM can be used for cruise ships, however, they provide a good start in getting asset management under control to lower dry-dock time and minimize expenses. Tell us how you think an EAM can help manage cruise ship maintenance.

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