How turbocharger service agreements can help your company to manage costs

An image of a turbocharger being serviced
Service agreements can introduce greater cost predictability and reliable expertise for ship owners and operators while reducing the challenges of a more ad hoc approach to maintenance. Here’s what you need to know.

The desire to control servicing costs while maintaining maximum reliability is a particular concern for ship owners and operators, according to a recent survey. Service agreements, such as Accelleron’s Turbo SmartCare, can help to remove the worry and uncertainty, and can also reduce long-term operating costs. 

As the survey explains, there are as many ways to manage service and repairs as there are ship operators. Broadly speaking, however, there are those who contract with companies such as Accelleron as and when service is required and those who prefer long-term service relationships.

Digging deeper into service requirements

According to the survey, of those that choose ad hoc service arrangements, just over a third prefer to deal directly with the turbocharger manufacturer. The remainder use whichever party can meet their requirements at the time, based on price, geography, cost and availability of parts. This often means regional turbocharger service specialists.

Long-term service relationships are favored by 61% of respondents, although these relationships are split between turbocharger makers (30%), engine makers (17%) and third-party service specialists (14%). Respondents found that these relationships bring greater cost predictability and reliable expertise while reducing some of the challenges of an ad hoc approach, among them extra cost and more internal resources devoted to service planning.

Overall, irrespective of how ship owners and operators deal with maintenance, 44% of respondents noted a preference to deal with the turbocharger manufacturer when it came to servicing. Interviews revealed that in many cases this preference is driven by insurance factors, with claims simplified (and, in some cases, only accepted) if the original manufacturer oversees servicing.

“Overhauling turbochargers is relatively complex work, so I prefer to do it through the maker themselves and not go to a third party,” one technical manager for a global heavy transport operator noted. “We have to use authorized parts and engineers.”

Such an approach doesn’t work for everybody, however, and a counter-example from a gas shipping company explains one reason for opting to work with service companies instead: “[For smaller service companies,] we are a large customer, whereas if we go with the manufacturers we will obviously be a small customer. They go the extra mile for us.”

Service scheduling

Scheduling services is a complex process for vessels that are in continuous service, particularly those operating on the spot market (where prompt delivery is a necessity). Arranging for spare parts and engineers to be at the right place at the right time – and at the right cost – is another factor that can make service scheduling challenging.

Even for vessels on fixed routes, service planning is complicated by the different overhaul requirements of machinery onboard. Time between overhauls may overlap and some degree of compromise may be needed, although this isn’t always possible for owners and operators. Accelleron’s work with Molslinjen is a great example, where extensive upgrades were made with minimal disruption to services.

A look at service locations shows that relatively few respondents to the Accelleron survey (31%) managed to complete all servicing at dry dock, which is the most cost-effective and least disruptive option.

Given this complexity, it is little surprise that scheduling service is often a collaborative task, with more than 60% of respondents involving the equipment manufacturer or service company. A fifth of companies questioned let the manufacturer or service provider handle scheduling entirely, while 39% – the same proportion that manage servicing on an ad hoc basis – prefer to manage the schedule themselves.

The benefits of developing long-term relationships

Long-term relationships with manufacturers such as Accelleron can help to smooth the planning process by logging running hours, sending alerts, coordinating with operators’ planning teams and – under some contract agreements – managing the turbocharger service process in its entirety, from scheduling to execution.

The result, according to interviewees, is less resource spent on bureaucracy, less exposure to potential delays and detours, and predictable costs for their scheduled maintenance.

In short, Accelleron’s service agreements ultimately aim to reduce the total cost of turbocharger operations and the administrative workload of maintenance management. Along with this, the service agreement also allows flexibility to define the scope of which service and products will be covered. In the long run, such comprehensive maintenance also means that ship owners and operators will be able to avoid one of their biggest fears: unplanned downtime.