IF BWT UNITS DON’T √ THESE SIX BOXES, DONT BUY THEM!!
Don’t get the cheapest system for your fleet, get the right one.
In the competitive world of shipping, with often wafer thin margins and uncertain demand, cost control is key to success. But sometimes the cheapest buys end up costing your business the most. Cheap does not necessarily mean good value.
And that’s especially true in BWT.
Get it right first time, every time
One customer recently came to us for a new system. Nothing surprising in that, but the unusual thing here was they already had one installed in their vessel. However, due to technical problems threatening vessel compliance, and therefore operations, they wanted to remove the existing unit (installed in a newbuild) and fit one of ours – one they knew would provide simple, low maintenance, reliable and compliant operations for the long-term.
If the yard had fitted the right system in the first place, rather than the best priced one, everyone would have saved a lot of time, and a whole lot of money. So it pays to be 100% certain of your BWT choice before you splash the cash.
However, that can be easier said that done. There’s a lot of systems, and a lot of people making promises out there. So how can you be sure you get the aforementioned ‘right system’?
It all comes down to one word – trusted – and six key areas.
Tick these boxes and you’ll enjoy plain sailing when it comes to BWT.
It goes without saying that the system needs to work, and that means work for all water types and turbidities wherever your vessels operate… not to mention working day-in, day-out to provide fault free BWT operations. All manufacturers will say their technology performs, but who can prove it? Who can demonstrate proven performance over the long-term?
Who can provide documented proof of reliability for vessel segments and trades that match yours? Opt for those with long track records of success. New systems could be excellent, but they represent a risk. At the same time established systems that have gone through numerous iterations, or major overhauls, suggest that something doesn’t, or hasn’t, performed as expected.
Different generations of systems will obviously perform differently, so make sure the version you choose has a track record that satisfies any concerns you may have.
Compliance is key. For optimal fleet flexibility you need optimal compliance, and that doesn’t mean IMO type approval, which should come as standard. If you want your vessels to sail anywhere you need to look for USCG approval.
USCG demands that all potentially invasive species carried in ballast tanks are not just neutralized, as IMO directs, but eliminated.
That’s as tough as you can get. USCG compliance gives you maximum fleet flexibility, while also ensuring conformance with any future regulations, should standards be refined. The result: complete regulatory peace of mind.
You wouldn’t buy a car from a building firm, so why buy a BWT system from a company that doesn’t focus 100% on BWT?
In the case of Optimarin, we’ve been exclusively dedicated to producing simple, effective, and reliable BWT technology since 1994, actually installing the world’s first commercial system in 2000.We don’t make, sell or do anything else – we live and breathe ballast water, that’s it! That means we understand our systems and the challenges of our customers inside out. Isn’t that the expertise you need for technology that keeps your ships sailing compliantly?
With over 50,000 merchant vessels currently trading around the world, the main market for BWT systems is retrofit. But not all systems, or organizations, are optimized for this purpose. BWT systems can be large, complex piece of machinery. On specialized vessels, where space is of a premium, it can be an engineering nightmare to try and squeeze them in.
Therefore, it pays dividends to look for flexible systems that are easy to operate and mechanically simple.For example, if a BWT system is modular and can be split up to fit into any available space then that should lead to easy installation – especially if your supplier can demonstrate a successful track record of previous retrofits.
The last thing shipowners want are problematic installations that lead to lengthy downtime on installation, not to mention potential operational issues down the line. It needs to be right first time, every time, so check your supplier and engineering partner/s have the retrofit credentials to put your mind at ease.
Simple BWT systems should require the minimum of maintenance and servicing, but it’s important to know you can call on a support network that has the coverage to match your global operations. Choose a supplier that will take good care of you and your system.
Some manufacturers will have their own engineers, while others choose expert partners, giving global capability while allowing them to retain focus on developing the technology itself.Look for suppliers that offer advantageous fleet service agreements, or packages, and those that have tailored servicing intervals to fit in with other planned activity, such as vessel class renewal.
This optimizes efficiency and minimizes interruptions to operations. And of course, support goes beyond planned servicing or maintenance, so ensure you pick a partner with 24/7 telephone/email assistance so expertise is always close at hand.
It’s not just BWT systems that need to be with you for the long-term, the suppliers should be too!
We’ve already seen some companies enter and exit this demanding segment – small companies that haven’t been able to secure their future, and larger companies that dip their toes into BWT before returning to more core business areas.
So make sure your supplier can demonstrate dedication to this sector, but also have the commitment to stand by their technology in the future.Check if they offer long-term guarantees of their systems, like Optimarin, or if they plan to renew or revamp the technology, potentially leaving you with an outdated version?
And in terms of the organization itself, does it have the stability you need to remain at your side in ten years time? In Optimarin’s case we’ve had the same strong investor group for many years, have positive equity and a strong order book. These are the sorts of characteristics you need to look for.
The value of expertise
So, remember, cheap isn’t always cheerful. You need to have complete trust in your supplier and don’t be scared to question them with this checklist.