• 2022-10-21
  • 3 min read

Approximately 90% of marine accidents are said to be caused by human error, but did you know that the percentage caused by engine failure is increasing in recent years? In this article we will look at turbocharger maintenance to look for clues on how to prevent problems from occurring and achieve even greater safety.

Increasingly complicated machinery and the concept of preventive maintenance

According to statistics from the Japan Coast Guard, over the last ten years, engine trouble was the most common cause of marine incidents that caused ships to become inoperable, accounting for over 40% of the total. In addition, with the EEXI/CII regulations coming into force in January 2023, there is a sharp rise in ships to be retrofitted with increasingly complex machinery to bring them into compliance, making proper maintenance even more important to ensure safe operation. The concept of preventive maintenance is important for avoiding operational failure during navigation. Since engine problems are the most common cause of operational failure, we believe that the preventive maintenance of turbocharger will contribute significantly to safe, reliable operations.

Marine incidents broken down by cause
Marine incidents broken down by cause

Source: "Marine accidents and rescue situations" (Japan Coast Guard) Created by processing

Three easily-overlooked maintenance issues

Three easily-overlooked maintenance issues
Three easily-overlooked maintenance issues

Turbocharger are expected to improve engine efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. Proper maintenance can prevent unexpected malfunctions and improve both performance and engine lifetime. Let us examine some examples of issues that are easily overlooked during maintenance.

1. Cleaning and inspecting vacuum breaker

Over time, wear and tear on a MET Turbocharger’s vacuum breakers will increase the risk of malfunctions. However, many people are unaware of the need for maintenance, and even those who understand the need often forget to inspect them. Instructions for the maintenance of vacuum breakers can be found below.

2. Pre-docking surveys of the hot parts of an axial MET Turbocharger

Hot parts such as turbine blades and nozzle tend to wear down quickly due to their exposure to the high heat and pressure from exhaust gases. As they get worn down, turbocharger performance drops, as does fuel efficiency. Machinery in the slipstream is also negatively impacted by the hot exhaust gases. Case studies of damage to the hot parts can be seen below.

3. Inspecting and replenishing overhaul kits

There are many cases where people notice missing bearings, labyrinth, and other small parts while carrying out overhaul inspections. Making emergency arrangements can delay the smooth completion of work and slow down responses to unforeseen problems. See below for the on-board spare parts that are commonly found to be deficient or insufficiently stocked.

Seeking even greater safety

Safety is paramount in the shipping industry. However, out at sea where complex elements overlap, there is no cure-all to guarantee safety, and with the increasing complexity of on-board machinery in recent years, the surest solution is persistent diligence. The goal of periodic turbocharger maintenance is to improve the reliability of ship engines, and it can serve as a big step toward solving this problem. With a network of over 60 MET Authorized Repair Agents around the world, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Marine Machinery & Equipment contributes to the development of a sustainable shipping industry by responding to the unending efforts for safe operation with proven technology and quality.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Marine Machinery and Equipment Co., Ltd. is a wholly-owned operating company of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., provides varied marine machineries and solution services.