MARSIC emission measuring device ensures greater transparency on the world's oceans

SICK Pty Ltd
Wednesday, 04 August, 2021


The wave of success in digitization: A new measurement device from SICK enables ships to maintain reliable exhaust gas cleaning. But that’s not all: The data that it provides opens up pioneering new application possibilities. Also thanks to a digital twin in the cloud.

Important new regulations took effect on 1 January 2020: The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UNO subsidiary dedicated to the safety and environmental compliance of ships, reduced the sulfur limit value in fuel in international waters. Because most ships are powered with heavy fuel — and therefore emit large quantities of sulfur dioxide — this change requires urgent action for many shipping companies: About 60,000 ships worldwide must either switch to considerably more expensive low-sulfur fuel or retrofit exhaust gas cleaning equipment. This so-called scrubber washes sulfur oxides from the exhaust gas and is installed with an emission measurement system.

SICK offered a solution at the right time: “We specifically developed our MARSIC measurement device for maritime emission measurement,” explains Hinrich Brumm, Strategic Industry Manager Combustion Engines and Maritime, who has been at SICK AG for five years. “It proves compliance with the IMO regulation, and therefore the efficiency of these exhaust gas cleaning systems — and is an indispensable component of the scrubber.” The device (roughly 130 x 40 cm and weighing about 120 kg) can measure up to nine gas components — SO2, CO2, CO, NO, NO2, NH3, CH4, H2O and O2 — and is also designed for other on-board process measurements.

Even in heavy seas — the Digital Twin in the cloud

The emission measurement devices have meanwhile been approved by the world’s seven largest classification societies, and thus cover 90 percent of the world fleet. “Our customers come from all over the world. Demand has been, and still is, enormous — particularly in China and South Korea, the classic ship-building nations. We are the market leader in ships’ emission measurement devices. An achievement that is all the more impressive considering that this area was new to us,” adds Brumm. But the MARSIC offers tremendous additional potential: The measurement device provides continuous data, and can thus form the basis for new applications because internet connection is now also possible on the high seas — so the data is constantly available via cloud solutions and can be accessed at all times. SICK is using this capability for its current work developing a variety of new maritime applications.

One such application is a cloud-based digital twin of the physical MARSIC device — a ‘virtualized asset’ in Industry 4.0 jargon. Any sensor can be represented, and the device’s real-time data visualized on the SICK AssetHub, a cloud-based web service for SICK customers. It is therefore possible to see what the device is measuring at sea, so the shipping company can monitor the emissions. If there is a problem, for example a clogged filter, not only is the crew notified, but also the shipping company — and appropriate measures can be implemented.

The data creates transparency

It is also possible to link the MARSIC emission data with other data. In future, therefore, digital services will be able to combine these values with the ship’s position data and issue warnings when the ship enters a SECA zone, enabling the crew to take action in good time. Severe penalties can be imposed if a ship enters such a zone while its exhaust gas cleaning plant is switched off. Such fines can amount to millions — with potentially dire consequences for a shipping company. “The combination of different data sources always provides a good basis for generating a completely new level of transparency. In this case it offers shipping companies improved productivity and operational security,” says Alexander Wiestler, Head of Global Product Management GBC Global Integration Space.

In the safe haven of digitization

A digital service based on a ship’s emissions measured using MARSIC could also, for example, be very helpful in future for collaboration with ports. The complex emissions requirements vary enormously from port to port. Some ports now even have incentive models with reduced port fees if the ship emits lower pollutant levels. Manual completion of the numerous forms required by ports makes enormous demands of the crew with plenty of leeway for mistakes. A digital service that transmitted the emission values to the port authorities via the cloud would improve the process and provide added value in the form of reduced workloads and the security of having complied with all regulations.

But that’s not all: SICK is already working on developing new digital services for all aspects of decarbonization or ‘green shipping’: “The maritime industry is undergoing radical change and, in view of the climate change debate, must stop using heavy fuel and move towards alternative propulsion concepts,” explains Hinrich Brumm. “SICK, with about 40,000 different sensors, also has the competence to develop suitable solutions here, too, and offer them in good time — from individual products to complex complete solutions including cloud-based services.”

Above all, these digital applications are a pioneering new development for shipping. While the reliable monitoring of ships’ emissions was impossible in the past, it can now be achieved thanks to MARSIC and cloud-based services. “Our measurement devices now make emissions transparent,” says Brumm. “This is a major step forward at a time when transparency, efficiency, environmental protection and sustainability are becoming increasingly important.” So in this case a sensor — as a supplier of valuable data — opens up immense possibilities, ultimately ensuring clean air above our oceans.

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