The process of implementing a ballast water management system requires plenty of thought – especially when regarding the physical installation itself. Before any work is carried out, a physical inspection of the BWMS’s possible location should take place. This can help in reviewing current arrangements and assessing any potential difficulties.
Many shipowners opt for a supplier that can provide expertise and experience to ensure the installation runs smoothly.
Planning prevents problems
In order to ready an entire fleet for compliance, shipping companies will often have to perform similar retrofits on many vessels. This means that first installation can act a ‘dress rehearsal’ – a trial run that facilitates a more efficient process in the future. That being said, a carefully planned timeline should be adhered to from day one. It will normally take between 6 and 9 months for the entire process – from system selection and design to commissioning – to be completed.
The limited amount of space available on board existing vessels should be carefully considered before installation. Systems with a smaller footprint are likely to be preferred as they can be installed much quicker and normally easier. Nevertheless, additional piping can complicate the process due to the space required for piping pieces and supports. To prevent such issues, a 3D scan of the machine room can facilitate the planning of piping, pumps, and other components. Using laser measurement, a service engineer can create a detailed picture of the area. This can also help determine accessibility for future maintenance. The information collected by a 3D scan will be included in a shipowner’s onboard survey, along with information such as the flow rate and pressure of the BWMS.
In some cases, it may be possible to install piping and other ballast water components while the ship is sailing, thus reducing time required in dry dock. However, the shipowner will have to decide when the system will finally be connected to the pumps. Connection to the ship’s control system can only take place while the ship is at rest and no electricity is running through the system.
Weighing up the impact
Installing a BWMS will have an impact on ship stability due to the increased weight. That is why, if a BWMS makes up more than 2% of the vessel’s total weight, an inclining test must be carried out. Classification societies such as DNV GL will request weight calculations and updated documentation to evaluate the total impact of the system. In any case, the weight and center of gravity of the BWMS must be recorded onboard.
Crew knowledge is critical
Chemical-based BWMSs bring additional safety requirements, such as safe storage of potentially hazardous chemical substances and protective clothing for crewmembers. Shipowners will have to think about how and where these can be housed on board – as well as considering the type of container and the material that they will be stored in. Handling such substances will also require special training.
Involving crewmembers in the installation of a BWMS, as well as explaining how ballast water is performed on the ship, can help prevent malfunctions down the line. This will help ensure that everybody is fully aware of how the installation, operation, and maintenance of the new system will take place. Effective training is absolutely crucial here, especially as crewmembers are prone to change and different vessels will utilize different technology. Operation, maintenance, and safety manuals can help overcome the challenge of transferring knowledge from one crew to another. However, these manuals need to provide sufficient definitions of routine maintenance and troubleshooting, offer ship-specific guidance, and be clear enough for operators to understand the instructions.
It is only natural that whenever new technologies are introduced into an industry, there is apprehension about the challenges of implementation. This is especially true if environmental standards and regulations come into play. Our ballast water basics website can provide clarity for compliance with IMO regulations. Be sure to sign up to our newsletter to be the first to receive all the latest news and industry insights.