Abstract

A 130,000-ton oil tanker might be a surprising place to find cutting edge wireless technology, but on BP's Loch Rannoch the world's first maritime "mote" network was developed to prevent critical machinery breakdowns before they happen. Standard monitoring practice is manual and time-consuming, an innovative solution developed by a BP-led team of BP, Intel, Rockwell and Crossbow applied leading edge sensory network technology to create the world's first mote network onboard an oil tanker. Rotating machines begin to vibrate imperceptibly as bearings wear and shafts become mis-aligned. Accelerometers placed on critical machinery capture equipment vibration, the data is passed wirelessly through a mesh-network to a datalogging computer so that machinery status can be monitored every day rather than manually every six weeks. ---helping improve preventative maintenance and safety!

Given the large number of rotating machines on modern oil tankers, it is not feasible for the crew to take readings more than every six weeks using hand-held dataloggers. Faults can develop up to six weeks before detection. Some machines require engineers to take measurements in confined or awkward spaces; wireless sampling removes this safety risk.

30 motes were installed in engine room locations logging vibration signals from 98 accelerometers for 5 months. The wireless, battery-operated motes allowed for rapid installation (17 hours) where traditional wired solutions were not feasible. Motes enable much more frequent sampling (every 6–18 Hours), increasing the quality of predictive analyses and enhancing our ability to spot machine defects early on before serious damage.

Loch Rannoch is an example of how the FIELD OF THE FUTURE programme develops technologies to improve management of BP's assets.

This paper describes the challenges faced in modern day operations and how BP is beginning to face these challenges with modern mesh sensor net technology.

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