Improper operation of a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) can result in additional costs, delays and compliance issues for shipowners. The Norwegian BWTS supplier Optimarin highlights the importance of crew training in a BWTS installation to ensure smooth-running ballasting operations.
There are several risk factors with ballasting operations. A major one is incorrect operation of the BWTS that can result in both environmental damage and serious financial consequences in heavy fines from port states due to non-compliance with the convention, which they are required to follow
Optimarin System Engineer Øystein Myhrvold explains.
And simply installing a class-approved BWTS is not sufficient to achieve compliance in the longer term as it requires crew knowledge of different ballast water testing requirements in various parts of the world, such as the US.
Clearly, inefficient ballasting can also result in costly delays at port that can have a commercial impact for the shipowner by affecting voyage schedules and delivery times.
Another potential risk factor is damage to BWTS equipment and components due to a lack of operational competence, such as through running the pump dry. This may necessitate premature replacement of such spare parts, resulting in higher maintenance costs.
Optimarin Service Manager Arne Lund says the company conducted a test in which it compared ballast water management on two vessels with identical equipment. This found that relatively higher maintenance expenses on one of the vessels was a direct result of poor operation of the BWTS.
“By providing training for the crew, we saw consumption of spare parts and other wares could be reduced significantly, thereby saving money. If the operator understands the system and knows how its components work, this makes it possible to anticipate and quickly resolve issues so the BWTS can run effectively with low maintenance costs over many years,” he says.
As informed, Optimarin provides a training platform that hosts technical, operational, and service and maintenance courses to cover BWTS components and their functionality, operational and emergency procedures plus contingency measures, and how to maintain the BWTS.
“We are confident this will benefit the user in operating, servicing and troubleshooting the BWTS, avoid damage to equipment and reduce system downtime,” Myhrvold says.
Optimarin experts conclude that a lot of start-up issues with new systems could be avoided simply by including crew training in the planning phase. It is also an ongoing process to ensure crew have the knowledge they need during service visits to minimise the need for maintenance.
Myhrvold says there is now a greater industry awareness of the need for expertise in ballast water treatment, with a heightened focus among both the ship’s management and crew on training in both the technical and operational aspects of a BWTS.