Emissions Monitoring for Ships – Simplicity is the key to success

23rd December 2016 | Technology

The recent IMO decision to implement the Global Sulphur cap in 2020 is almost certain to result in an increase in deployments of scrubbers in commercial ships. Combine this with the imminent introduction of the EU’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) regulations and IMO Tier III it seems more ships will need to monitor their exhaust gas emissions.

Although well-established on land-based installations, emissions monitoring systems (EMS) are relatively new to the maritime industry. One of the most important criteria when selecting your marine EMS system is reliability, given the reality that if your scrubber monitor is not working the additional cost of using low Sulphur fuel can potentially run into tens of thousands of dollars. Our land-based colleagues have an advantage due to their support services being usually located locally meaning service agreements can be implemented to get installations back up and running within the allocated time avoiding any legislative or fiscal penalties. At sea, we don’t tend to have that luxury with our assets continually moving and the onboard crew changing regularly meaning potential differences in skill sets.

When deciding on your EMS technology, there are a few considerations that should be understood from the outset namely, don’t be seduced by the pricing of the system or the apparent benefits of the technology. I think that most EMS technology variants have a place in the market, whether it be extractive systems, in-situ or cross stack sensors. The apparent benefits you bought into at the procurement phase may pale into insignificance when your system in inoperable due to a failed EMS.

You must consider that all EMS system will require to be adequately maintained. Therefore can this be carried out by your crew onboard? Do they have the necessary skills, tools and spare parts to fix the issue? Some technologies may have multiple analyser systems which have many complex parts, filters, pumps, peristaltic tubes and other items which require specialist skills. If this type of system is your preference, then ensure that you always have one of your crew trained to at least be able to identify the potential problem and work with the maker to effect a repair.

The critical factors in your decision-making process should also include;

  • Keep the system cleaned and maintained as per the maker’s recommendations. Include these tasks into your vessels planned maintenance system to ensure they are carried out
  • Maintaining the correct spare parts inventory
  • Ensure you have enough calibration gas in case a Port State or Class calibration test is required. Remember calibration gas can take time to manufacture and is difficult to ship to certain ports
  • Delegating EMS responsibility to a key crew member, make sure they have the relevant technical training to identify common faults and make running repairs
  • Ensure your EMS supplier can offer distance support to assist in the diagnosis of common faults which will reduce the requirement (and associated costs) of having to deploy a technician

The key to a successful EMS installation is simplicity. The easier the system is to operate and maintain onboard, the higher the chances of a reliable and cost-effective installation. Your procurement decision is just the beginning, I would also recommend working closely with your EMS supplier to ensure that post installation support agreements are put in place to as part of your overall vessel compliance monitoring strategy.


Simon Brown is Managing Director of Emsys Maritime Ltd, a UK supplier of maritime emissions monitoring technology.  www.emsys-maritime.com