Having reliable data and knowing what to monitor is the key to improve vessel operations.


The maritime business is constantly seeking to develop strategies designed to improve and optimize operations.

Monitoring onboard operations with digital tools ensures reliable data, which through analysis enables data-driven decisions. Setting up monitoring tools therefore allows shipowners to manage vessels in real time and improve performance.

By analyzing data on a regular basis, shipowners achieve an understanding of the onboard situation – including anomalies and inefficiencies. Ashore personnel can use this collected data to understand what’s working well and what is not on a single vessel or the entire fleet.

You can log and monitor a lot of informa­tion. In this article, we present the 7 most important things to monitor to improve performance with digital logbooks.

1. Highlight abnormal bilge and sludge production

The production of sludge mainly deri­ves from your main engine, auxiliary machinery and handling of fuel oil. The sludge is stored in the tanks and can be discharged to shore or burned in the incinerator. Leakages of sea water and freshwater generate bilge.

Even if the bilge and sludge production is normal on board it is important that you know the base production. This way you can keep an eye on KPIs fundamen­tal to understand anomalies onboard.

Typical sludge and bilge sources:

  • Fuel oil purifiers
  • Lube oil purifiers
  • Main engine scavenge drains
  • Main engine stuffing box
  • Tray drains of oil machinery
  • Pipelines and pumps
  • Heat exchangers
  • Fresh water generator
  • Boilers

2. Understand the fuel quality based on desludging

Sludge generation in tanks is a result from the handling, mixing and pum­ping of heavy fuel oil and its quantity is strictly related to fuel quality.

Monitoring desludging activities and fuel consumption by the vessels allow you to understand the fuel quality. There is usually a greater quantity of sludge production if the quality of fuel oil being processed is decreasing.

3. Monitor important values to protect the environment

Accumulating bilge and waste sludge until the ship reaches the next port can be dangerous. Furthermore, it is not feasible since it creates the need for large storage tanks, thus reducing cargo spaces.

To comply with MARPOL regulations, it is important to maintain the incinerator and the oil water separators with the highest possible efficiency.

Using the data coming from reported ope­rations in you oil record book, it is possible to understand if the incinerator rate and the oil water separator rate are used effi­ciently. You can easily monitor if they are working as close as possible to the stan­dard data plate rates. When these values drop, the vessel is not operated efficiently.

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4. Forecast the need of ashore discharge

Knowing the baseline of the daily produc­tion of sludge and bilge for your vessel allows you to forecast the need of ashore discharge. With knowledge of the real per­formance of the environment equipment installed and by monitoring tanks remai­ning on board, you are able to optimize vessel management costs.

If the percentage of tanks filling is too high compared to the remaining sailing days, the environment equipment (the OWS and incinerator) may not guarantee the full management of bilge and sludge, and an ashore discharge should be plan­ned on time.

5. Monitor the discharge of garbage

The typical mistakes in the garbage record book involve quantities discharged recorded in incorrect amounts. The amount of garbage discharged is generally measured and recorded in cubic meters.

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