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The Eco-Pilot display.

The display of the current and average fuel consumption dominates the screen. The symbols in the upper row give the status using colours: green means that all is working well, red indicates an error. By touching one of the symbols, detailed information is provided. On the top, two propeller symbols show whether the port, starboard or both engines are being measured. The third symbol shows the proper functioning of the connections to the engine. Next to that on the right, the user can check for proper connections with all the electronic components. The antenna symbol shows whether the GPS online.

A Start in Heating Systems.

The lower row is the activity row. Here the bypasses can be activated (far left). From any submenu, pushing the fuel pump icon leads directly back to the consumption display. The canister with the + symbol gives the total use since the last reset. The moon/sun is used to change the display between day and night mode. Touching the gears brings up the settings menu. Ease of use is of course an important consideration in working with the device. In the end, the way in which the measurement data is collected determines the dependability and precision of the system. Flowmeters from KRAL have been in use measuring fuel and lubrication ever since 1965. With their first devices, the burner oil consumption of a manufacturer of heating units was measured. In the meantime many other areas of application have arisen, among them shipping.

It’s more or less a given that the challenge is always the same: the movement of fuel from the tank to the engine is never smooth. The flow is initiated by fuel injection pumps but the speed of flow varies – there are even brief reversals in the flow direction. The line pressure can oscillate considerably, and temperature differences between inflow and return can be great. In addition, there are additional factors like vibration and the heat given off by the engine itself. Also, in general there is very little space available for system installation. Flowmeters from KRAL are displacement meters. Two spindles along with the housing form the precisely manufactured measurement chamber. The volume of the measurement chamber is confirmed via an in-house, accredited testing facility. For every rotation of the main spindle, the volume of fluid that fills the measuring chamber is moved through the Flowmeter. With every full turn of the main spindle, the measurement chamber volume is counted once. The turning of the main spindle is recognised via a rotor and an impulse generator. In order to increase the resolution of the measuring device, the rotor has more than only one pole; in the case of a geared rotor, at least two teeth. In this way, even partial rotations of the spindle are recognised. The impulse generator produces rectangular electronic pulses. Every right angle represents a precisely established measured chamber volume. The downstream electronics counts up these right angles and determines the amount flowing using programmed volumes per pulse.

Secondary Measurement Sensors.

KRAL Flowmeters have secondary sensors that determine the operating conditions. The measured values are corrected and cleaned of errors for further processing and passed on to the Eco-Pilot computer. With a second impulse sensor for each flowmeter, it is also recognised if the flow of fuel has changed direction. Note that a device that only allows for measurement in a specific direction cannot account for typical conditions in a diesel engine. Temperature sensors correct for the temperature differences between the flowmeters  in the feed and return lines. The fuel in the return lines is about 60°C warmer than the cold fuel in the tank.

The Investment Pays Off.

An investment in precise fuel consumption measurement  pays off for two reasons. Thanks to this tool, a ship’s crew is better able to control fuel consumption. After only a short period of time, TSM was able to achieve savings of 10 to 15 percent in terms of the load profile of its tugboats. Second, lower costs mean clear competitive advantages for a company. The Eco-Pilot system saves all of the measurement data including usage levels, time stamps and GPS coordinates – there’s enough storage capacity for two years in service. The data can either be transferred for analysis via ethernet connection or using a USB stick. In this way, the typical usage profiles for individual ships and crews can be established. It’s about more than just potential fuel savings. A shipping company can also calculate their offers in a more cost effective way depending on the assignment. Fuel costs differ according to job, freight or tug transport, travelling upstream or going downstream. In order to allow for special shipping assignments or weather conditions, Eco-Pilot can optionally record the wind speed (via an anemometer), the speed over water (with log), the time and the coordinates (with GPS) along with the status of the tank and engine RPM.

Simple Installation.

Transferring measurement values over the internet provides additional information. Every ship in the TSM fleet can be spotted on a display. Details about the engine status, fuel consumption and a time stamp set the activity of the ship; the position and travel route are presented on a map. Usage entries and a calendar that shows the running times completes the list of useful functions. Upgrades to existing ships are often difficult because there is usually very little available space. It is crucial here to avoid installation costs surpassing the purchasing costs for the metering system, making the investment uneconomical.

Two panels on an engine.

With the Eco-Pilot system, all of the components for the engine room are mounted on two panels per engine – one panel for the inflow and one for the return flow. Each panel has a few components: the flowmeter, a splash guard, a bypass valve and a CAN bus box for data collection and communication. In setting things up, only one cable for two fuel lines and a CAN bus needs to be routed to the installation location. Optionally KRAL technicians can take over all the work involved. The CAN bus box was adopted from trusted technology used in the automotive industry. This failsafe technology guarantees safety in operation for ship owners. Every KRAL flowmeter is calibrated using an accredited testing facility.


This was part 2 in our series on the fuel consumption measurement with Eco-Pilot.
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KRAL AG | Bildgasse 40 | Industrie Nord | 6890 Lustenau | Österreich

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