Managing Marine Fuel Consumption with Data Analytics

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The application of technology solutions in marine vessel business, using data analytics is helping marine operators to save operational cost, writes Emma Okonji

Technology is evolving by the day and technology solution providers are thinking out of the box to develop solutions that will drive business development across every sector of the economy.

Nautical Control Solution (NCS) is a technology company that is addressing the challenges and needs of marine operators, using electronic fuel management system (EFMS) technology solution like Fuel Trax to monitor fuel data across marine vessels, ensuring operational cost reduction and improve performance of marine operations.

Fuel Trax standardises the acquisition, secure transfer, tracking and analysis of accurate, reliable fleet-wide performance data, thus reducing the challenges of marine vessel owners and charterers like international oil companies (IOCs), to have competitive advantage and ensure fuel security, assets maintenance and attain as much as 37 per cent total annual savings on their operational cost.

Emergence of Fuel Trax solution

The Sales Director, NCS, James Slaughter, who was in Nigeria to address the challenges faced by IOCs and marine vessel owners, said Fuel Trax solution was developed to address fuel theft, inaccuracy in measurement and efficiency of fuel consumption in marine business.
“We have been in business for the past 15 years, and in the last two and a half years, we have installed over 80 systems in Nigerian vessels with Fuel Trax, providing transparency, technicalities and data for managing fuel consumption in marine vessels. We service international oil companies (IOCs) like ExxonMobil, Total, Chevron among others,” Slaughter said.

How the technology solution works
The NCS developed the Fuel Trax technology solution and installed it in marine vessels through their local partners. The solution captures information about marine vessel fuel management and sends such information to the company’s satellite. The servers pick the information from the satellite, generates data from it, and the data is interpreted, using data analytics, and the result is made available to clients who are the IOCs and the vessel owners to help them make better and informed decision about marine fuel management.
According to Slaughter, clients who use the solution log on to NCS website, via a dedicated password and they could see the movement of their fleet and get updates every 15 minutes on the movement and location of the fleet. As the vessels move in the marine waters, they can monitor it and know the location and direction of the vessel. They can see the level of their fuel from piping to the vessel fuel tank.

Data generation
Data has become the fastest growing tool more than anything else. Customers need data and analytics data in a digital era to evaluate and make smart business decisions. NCS, through its technology solution, generates data for marine vessel fuel management. The company uses technology in generating and analysing data, which measures the volume of contents passing through the fuel pipes, unlike what was obtainable in the days of old where the flow-metre was mechanically handled in a most tedious way.
“What we do with our Fuel Trax solution is to provide real-time information for real time business decision making. So, we measure fuel supply, fuel level in the tank and the information is run through our software intelligence on board and the information captured is sent to our own antennae for data transfer and it goes through a satellite network that is reliable.

“The information goes to our server in the United States and the information is analysed and passed on to our clients. So the client has the view and the information, just as we do and nothing is secret about fuel management in marine operations,” Slaughter said.
Also speaking on how the solution works with generated data, the Sales and Marketing Manager, NCS, Victoria Cantu said: “All the information we needed, come from our clients like the vessel owners, IOCs and other stakeholders in the marine business. They come to us and they tell us what they need to enhance their business and we provide the technology solution through the data we gathered from them. Everything that we do is through collaborative efforts with them.”

Why IOCs need Fuel Trax
According to Slaughter, IOCs need Fuel TraxL solution for multiple reasons.
“Fuel accountability has become the biggest driver in marine vessel business because there is a culture about fuel piracy to the detriment of IOCs.
“So, such scenario is very difficult to control because IOCs do not know what happens to their fuel consumption after supplying the vessel owners with substantial volume of fuel for the marine trip.
“So, our solution removes all forms of human factors and provides data analytics that helps the IOCs to make better, informed and instant decision to drive their business to profitability.
“So significant savings take place by just installing and using our Fuel Trax solution in marine vessels. The solution is an added security and of great benefit to IOC who invest in fuel for their offshore business, he said.

Value of solution
For the vessel owners, the solution helps to manage the fuel in their vessels more efficiently to the delight of the IOC that provides the fuel. According to the company, the solution eliminates errors associated with the manual ways in which they hitherto manage fuel efficiency and consumption.
It also helps to analyse information much easier and better since it is real time. For the IOCs, they enjoy the same benefits as the vessel owners. The great benefit that the solution brings on board is transparency in the marine business for both the IOCs and the vessel owners, in terms of quality of marine fuel, supply quantity and usage among others and that information can easily be shared with other stakeholders in the marine business.

Local installation partner

Also, the Head of Citracks Telematics Solutions, one of the local partners of NCS in the installation of Fuel Trax, Frances Ogujawa, said: “Our Citracks telematics solutions covers installation for land and sea operations. We install tacking solutions for vehicles, trucks and generators on land as well as installation of solution on marine vessels for fuel monitoring.
“For marine vessels, we are able to install Fuel Trax solution from NCS that will help vessel owners and IOCs, monitor and manage fuel consumption in marine vessels. The solution reduces the amount of fuel usage, through data gathering and interpretation through data analytics and optimisation.”
“The beauty of the solution is that we are online 24/7 and it’s realtime assessment that we carry out on vessels and the reports are online realtime. The maximum time for installation of Fuel Trax solution is seven days before commissioning,” Ogujawa said.

Customers’ experience

To the General Manager, Marine Operations for C&I Leasing, Mr. Wisdom Nwangwu, who spoke on the value of the solution to vessels owners, said: “For every client we work with, as vessel owner, the client provides the fuel and we manage the fuel for the client.
“So, the solution helps us to manage the fuel in our custody better. It prevents to a large extent, fuel theft in the system and increases efficiency in fuel management, through various configuration of the engines for better fuel efficiency. So we add value to the IOCs when we manage their fuel very well.”
Also, Marine Operations Control Advisor, Mobil Producing Nigeria, Muhammed Oyibo said the technology solution act as deterrent to fuel theft and protection of fuel management system on marine vessel operations.

“Since we started using the solution, it has ensured accuracy in our marine vessel operations, cost of maintenance pattern has also dropped from what it used to be. Again, the solution has increased fuel efficiency because it puts vessel owners on their toes to use the vessel in a most appropriate way that will enhance fuel efficiency. The solution has also reduced fuel theft in marine operations. It has led us to move from fuel theft era to fuel efficiency management era”, Oyibo said .

ExxonMobil, he added, has the largest number of fleet size and we are getting full support of the Fuel Trax solution.
“There is a need, however, for the NCS to update the features of the solution and add new features that will further enhance monitoring and management of fuel in marine vessel business.

“We need more accurate reporting and further reduction of fuel theft. Using a risk-based approach, we have since discovered that the solution has significantly helped us to reduce fuel theft to the extent that even when there are still some element of fuel theft in the system, such level is highly insignificant to our business because the larger percentage of the fuel consumption is under our control since we have access to monitor and manage fuel consumption on a real time basis,” he said.