Successfully managing a fleet of offshore vessels in remote locations and overseeing the maintenance of potentially thousands of pieces of equipment on board is a major undertaking for businesses in the marine and offshore sector. An inefficient system for planning and managing preventative maintenance is likely to delays and inefficiencies, and in some cases, costly and disruptive breakdowns.
To mitigate these risks, an increasing number of firms are turning their back on outdated computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS) and investing in innovative technology like Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software with a view to achieving greater efficiency, improved productivity and cost savings by harvesting data from their assets and ensuring a smarter, end-to-end asset lifecycle approach.
While always-on, real-time EAM has long been used to help organisations across many industry sectors to manage their land-based sites, it is only in recent years that offshore vessels and assets have been able to take advantage of similar functionality.
Manchester-based offshore tech specialist SRO Solutions was responsible for bringing IBM’s Maximo EAM software to the marine industry. When Maximo is implemented alongside SRO’s unique data replication tool (SDR), remote assets are able to share as close to live data as possible and benefit from the same efficiencies as a connected site on the mainland. SRO is the only IBM Business Partner with the capability to provide SDR – a unique data replication service operating in tandem with Maximo. It differs from ubiquitous replication solutions available on the market as it captures only pertinent data and automatically compresses, recovers and encrypts them down to a more manageable size making it easier to handle.
SRO Managing Director Tony Lackey, a former seafarer who jointly set up the company with a partner in 2004, said: “SDR is specifically designed for use in remote locations where internet connection is poor. As soon as there is some network available, the data from Maximo gets replicated, ensuring that both sides, HQ and remote, can have a like-for-like copy once the process is complete.
“If the connection is suspended, SDR recovers data automatically without any need for manual intervention and picks the process up from the point where it was interrupted. The end result is that ships and other offshore assets can receive the same quality of Maximo data as a connected site onshore.”
Mr Lackey said the combination of Maximo and SDR provides owners of offshore support vessels with access to EAM system data in near real-time. This allows them to benefit from efficiency gains in business integration, preventative maintenance management and procurement, with a significant impact on the bottom line.
In the past decade, the company has undertaken more than 20 major asset management system implementations and upgrades for maritime sector clients using Maximo software. A recently completed 14-month contract saw SRO replace the CMMS system aboard four drillships and two semi-submersible vessels operated by Stena Drilling. Completed on time and to budget, the implementation involved consolidating vast amounts of data from Stena Drilling’s onshore headquarters in Aberdeen and its fleet across many varied systems (finance, purchasing etc.) into one single platform. This included 7,500 unique pieces of equipment on each vessel and 1.2million historical work orders. In addition, SRO delivered training on the fleet in the Canary Islands, Israel, Guyana, and Scapa Flow in Scotland.
SRO has worked with offshore giant MODEC since 2018, completing a series of high-value digitisation upgrades. Most recently the firm helped create a more efficient and accurate inventory for MODEC in Ghana, streamlining its onshore headquarters in Accra with two FPSO (floating production, storage and offloading) vessels. As well as improving workflows using IBM Maximo, SRO implemented additional features and functionalities to help with inventory movements between the vessels and onshore storerooms feeding offshore storerooms, resulting in increased speed and accurate inventory usage and volumes.
Most businesses looking to upgrade their asset management system understandably view the issue of potential downtime and disruption to operations as a significant concern. The risk is heightened for firms with a fleet of offshore support vessels scattered across the world due to the time it can take to upgrade the software aboard each ship. SRO designed its bespoke data utility (SDU) product to remove that uncertainty. The tool works by continually syncing data between the old and new systems, allowing them to run in parallel while the vessels continue normal operations. The final switch over to the upgraded software can be accomplished in just a few hours.
Mr Lackey said: “Without SDU, completing the process would require stopping each vessel and using its legacy and new database in tandem while a new Maximo environment was built and physically shipped out. You could be looking at days or weeks, or a software upgrade process, or even more prolonged delay if the upgrade does not go to plan.”
As the end of support for the legacy versions of Maximo has been announced last September, earlier this year, SRO was tasked by a global shipping company to carry out a full upgrade of the IBM Maximo EAM used by its 30-strong fleet. New versions of the firm’s Maximo database will be built and shipped to each vessel over the coming months. The shipping company will maintain access to its databases during the rollout thanks to SDU, allowing operations to continue uninterrupted. SRO successfully completed a similar project for the company in 2016, using SDU to cut the amount of downtime required for the work from weeks to hours.
SRO’s extensive experience in the maritime and offshore sectors has also seen the company become the de facto custodian of Maximo software when it comes to securing type approval with the world’s leading classification societies. Both DNV and Lloyd’s Register have recently approved the latest version of Maximo for use aboard vessels, with SRO overseeing the certification process on behalf of IBM.
Type approval provides reassurance for all Maximo’s maritime and offshore clients that the software continues to satisfy relevant class and legal obligations. Any business around the world that is certified by DNV or Lloyd’s Register and uses Maximo in an offshore or maritime capacity, whether they are a customer of SRO Solutions or not, will benefit from the newly updated classification approval.
Mr Lackey said SRO is focused on expanding its presence in the marine and offshore sector in the coming years and hopes to see more clients moving to its cloud-based Maximo as a Service (MaaS) offering. Configurable to a business’ specific requirements, the cloud-hosted solution allows companies to maximise their return on investment by avoiding on-premise capital expenditure, along with associated infrastructure and maintenance costs.
Last year, oil and gas well-decommissioning specialist Well-Safe Solutions became the first client to implement SRO’s cloud-based Maximo; paired with the tech firm’s SDR data replication tool. This approach has given Well-Safe full control over maintenance and support of its bespoke well-decommissioning unit, the Well-Safe Guardian, while avoiding the cost of buying new IT infrastructure and having to maintain it.
Gary Brierley, Senior Maximo Consultant for SRO, said: “This is the start of the journey for Well-Safe, but they have bought a cloud-hosted Maximo and replication software, which they can build on year after year as it opens up so many possibilities and provides insights to optimise business operations. Maximo is an all-encompassing product where everything is in the one place with work orders, preventive maintenance, inventory and purchase orders all linked. It is hugely attractive to vendors to find a lot of their requirements covered by just one tool.”