Live from the Sea
By: Jorge Ponce
We offer Parts Replacement as a Service (PRaaS), delivering secure, scalable and cost-effective digitized inventory and on-site production solutions. Working with leading partners across maritime, offshore and the construction industries, the Ivaldi PRaaS solution reduces inventory, warehousing needs, delivery times and cost of logistics by allowing organizations to send files, not parts, thanks to additive manufacturing.
The “Live from the Sea” series is a monthly feature of a part delivered to one of our end-users. One of our team members will be writing an article after visiting a vessel, whom we delivered a part to. This is an opportunity to share about the amazing work we get to do every day with our customers, and offers you a sneak peek into boarding one of those giant vessels!
Vessel visits are a key component for us to understand our users’ needs and see, first hand, how our service can be of help to the crews. The visits themselves, which you will read about in this series, is one of the most critical and challenging tasks our team has to perform weekly.
This fourth article of the series is by Jorge Ponce, Industrial Designer, and describes a vessel visit he did from our Singapore location.
Vessel visits are always exciting and unpredictable. There are a lot of factors that make every experience unique, such as the weather, vessel schedule, boarding locations, crew and the type of ship. On November 2nd of 2018, I got the opportunity to board a very special ship. This vessel visit was special not only because it’s the oldest ship in the customer’s fleet but because it use to be the biggest ship in their fleet for a long time. It performed one of the longest routes there are for many years. This mighty ship has been active and at sea for more than 30 years since the year it was built in 1986. She has a gross tonnage of 175,720 tons and a size of 342.08 meters long.
The beginning of the vessel visit was conducted as usual. There was a meeting at 8:00 a.m. with the service engineer. He accompanies us to almost every vessel visit. He is a very experienced engineer with a lot of ship boarding and service experience. This is helpful, not only because he is really interested in Ivaldi’s service and is a great advocate of our company, but because he also provides a lot of helpful insights on this fascinating industry.
We proceeded from the pier to the vessel at around 9:00 a.m., and it took us about 45 minutes to get to the vessel by a speed boat. The weather that day wasn’t optimal since it was raining, which makes the vessel visits harder, but there was no hard wind, which would have made boarding even more dangerous. After the 45 minute journey getting to the vessel, we made our very first eye contact with the vessel. It was the biggest ship that I have ever boarded!
Getting on board was more complicated than any other boarding I had done at that time. The weather was a factor since it was slippery, and the boarding stairs were really high from sea level to the top of the vessel.
Once on board, we registered ourselves and asked to talk to the captain or chief officer. Due to the history and fame of the ship, the crew was preparing themselves to receive VIP guests on the ship, and that wasn’t us! The captain still gave us a few minutes of his time. We explained the project and who we were. He was excited about the project and pointed us to the chief engineer. We left his office to the resting area where we waited for the chief engineer.
Because we arrived in the middle of so many maintenance activities and the VIP visit, we had to wait for a few hours to see the chief engineer. We explained to him who we were, the project and the reasons we were on board that day. He seemed excited and gave us a lot of valuable insights, mainly regarding gaskets. While all of the waiting time transcurred, the weather got worse, and it started to rain more heavily. For the first time, I felt a ship of that size moving even though we were in-port! For safety reasons, we weren’t allowed to go around the deck, but we still got to see the engine room.
Once inside the engine room, we started looking around for parts that were broken or that were missing. From previous experiences, we have had challenges finding printable parts in engine rooms since most of them are metal and are under high-pressure systems. Those are critical parts we aren’t manufacturing just yet. Nevertheless, this time, it was different. We found missing pressure switches for hydrophone systems that our technology could help manufacture.
After walking around the engine room, we proceeded to the workshop where the engineer showed us an example of some parts that were damaged or broken. It is always good when the crew themselves point to broken parts because it gives us a better idea of what parts we need to focus our capabilities in the future.
One of the parts that caught our attention was a damaged fuel pump. This part was dented from a little corner, making the whole part useless. Parts like this show us that a simpler solution can save customers money. A small gasket can solve the problem, but since the part is not on the market, it forced the crew to change the complete part, which can be extremely expensive.
Although we did not have a matching gasket available with us during this visit, such experiences provide us with valuable information. We are able to obtain information, digitize and save it in our digital warehouse for future visits or requests from customers. The purpose of these vessel visits is to gain more information about parts. We check our assumptions on threads and other dimensions for accuracy. We are also identifying new opportunities to find new unobtainables on these visits.
After the engine room, we went to the food court where we ate one of the best meals I ever had onboard. I guess having VIPs onboard comes with its advantages.
Finishing our meal, we proceeded to the captain’s office where we said goodbye and exchanged business cards. I always leave feeling excited for a future ship visit. I get to educate the crew on revolutionary technology and then share my findings with the team at Ivaldi.