Enrico Capurso, Operations Manager, for W&O Supply, leading maritime fittings supplier, shares his experience in the important steps taken during a pre-dry dock survey for shipowners and why valve surveys are essential to the safety and operations of the vessel.
How does your day begin when you’re conducting an onboard inspection?
Preparation is essential ahead of getting onboard to perform a vessel inspection. In advance of the inspection, we are sent the list of areas of the ship which need checking during the in-person survey. We use this list to prepare all the equipment and RFID tags, and know what to expect ahead of the survey. We also prepare a toolkit which might be needed to measure or assess the valves.
How long can a pre-dry dock survey take?
It usually takes one day or sometimes two. Where we have strong client relationships, we have completed an inspection in just two hours. In one instance, we had already surveyed the sister ship, so we had experience in the design of the vessel, and we had a really helpful crew onboard to take us to the right locations efficiently.
What are you looking for during your inspections?
Each valve is visually checked and information is gathered such as where it’s installed, if there is a failure, or if the incorrect valve is being used. Sometimes, the wrong valve has been installed and a Class surveyor may advise a different and more appropriate valve for the application, causing delays to bring the vessel operations. Spotting this early has significant benefits including avoiding delays and safety concerns.
There are also many different brands of valves onboard vessels. Sometimes you can easily see what the material of the valve is made of, or you might have tag plates to refer to. But other times, tag plates are false or too worn to read it. That is where W&O’s expertise helps, by knowing the valve type and internal operations.
One of the biggest challenge is also the materials. Marine valves can be a combination of materials and have special internal liners for steam or oil. You may have to change the material and check the internals for defects. It is different for steam, water or oil and the wrong valve, or a defect, can have huge implications for safety. For the cruise industry, this is particularly important as there are so many passengers onboard and it can be quite dangerous if the valves are not maintained correctly. W&O’s extensive in-stock inventory allows us to supply the right valve quickly and easily versus a “quick fix” solution.
How do you record the information you obtain?
The most important part of the survey is the data contained within the RFID tags. The RFID tags are made of special shatterproof plastic and attached using metal or plastic depending on the valve. Overall, digitising valve data using RFID tagging allows owners to track valve condition over time and incorporate the information into their digital platforms.
All the data that we collect in our inspections are input into a file, which gets linked to the online system so the client can easily access the information by just tapping on the RFID tag.
By providing easy access to data for valves on a vessel, RFID tagging reduces costs for vessel managers allowing them to adopt a time-based preventative maintenance approach to valve replacement. It’s a simple solution making a big difference.
For more information on RFID tags, click here.