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Boosting asset reliability with proactive high-level support

Wärtsilä Expert Insight is an innovative breakthrough that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced diagnostics to monitor equipment and systems in real time. It enables Wärtsilä Expertise Centres to proactively deliver customer support, taking predictive maintenance to the next level.

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“Expert Insight focuses on detecting anomalies that indicate potential failures or reveal conditions involving the consumption of excess fuel, making the engine less efficient. This takes place long before a conventional alarm would be triggered,” says Frank Velthuis, Director of Digital Product Development, Wärtsilä Marine Business.

Using AI and advanced diagnostics to relay data, Wärtsilä Expert Insight makes it possible for corrective actions to be carried out rapidly. The product aims to significantly improve failure avoidance processes on Wärtsilä engines and works to ensure long-term accurate intelligence and insight for customers’ predictive maintenance strategies.

Wärtsilä Expert Insight is available in combination with a Wärtsilä Lifecycle Solutions agreement, a holistic approach to optimising the efficiency and performance of marine assets. Lifecycle Solutions enable maintenance needs to be predicted, ensure that assets operate in the most energy-efficient way, and see to it that vessels operate in accordance with all relevant regulations.

Enhanced asset availability leads to customer benefits

Wärtsilä Expert Insight represents an important next step within the technology group’s ongoing development work in improving its predictive maintenance capabilities. “We found that customers demand a higher level of proactivity throughout the lifecycle of their assets, and they want us to conduct maintenance work only when it is needed. A product like Expert Insight allows us to meet that challenge,” continues Velthuis.

The combination of AI, advanced diagnostics, and Wärtsilä’s deep equipment expertise forms a superior competitive advantage and is where Expert Insight’s true value lies. From Velthuis’s perspective, customers benefit in several ways. “Firstly, the increased safety and reliability of equipment and systems results in fewer downtime events and lower maintenance costs. Secondly, there is an increase in fuel efficiency.”

Wärtsilä’s pilot study involving the application of Expert Insight to cruise vessel engines in operation illustrates the above-mentioned benefits. Based on the study, the company estimates a considerable reduction in unplanned downtime events for similar engine types. Velthuis adds that a significant improvement in fuel efficiency is also to be expected.

As asset availability is greatly enhanced, along with the reliability and safety of the equipment or system, Velthuis emphasises that the total environmental impact of the entire operation – whether that involves a vessel, powertrain or hull systems, or a power plant – decreases significantly. “If equipment condition monitoring is done this way, the number of parts consumed can be reduced along with the amount of travelling required to install those parts, and the engine’s fuel efficiency can be improved.”

A competitive advantage for both the Marine and Energy businesses

For Wärtsilä, a product like Expert Insight – which improves the lifecycle performance of Wärtsilä products – provides a distinct competitive edge and plays an ever-greater role in decision-making related to building new installations, in both the Marine and Energy businesses.

Wärtsilä Expert Insight fosters closer collaboration between Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres and the customers’ technical personnel. Facilitated through the application, the crew and Wärtsilä’s experts can form a common understanding of the problem and coordinate on the best course of action. This teamwork forms the basis for better asset management decisions.

How Expert Insight works

Expert Insight incorporates a set of algorithms partly replicating the architecture of the human brain that is designed to recognise patterns in numerical data. Built by Wärtsilä data scientists using Google TensorFlow, this neural network powers the calculations behind the programme and enables Expert Insight to crunch a year’s worth of engine operational data in a matter of minutes. The AI uses both its successes and failures to improve anomalous behaviour itself.

The solution then identifies any deviations that it sees as significant. Velthuis adds that within minutes after an anomaly occurs, it will be visible in the tools of specialists at Wärtsilä Expertise Centres worldwide, allowing them to respond in due course with an appropriate resolution to the potential issue. “We’ve learned during the co-creation pilots that anomalies are actually indicative of potential failures one to four weeks into the future, so it’s not necessary for an expert in the Wärtsilä Expertise Centre to contact the customer with actionable advice every other minute,” he notes.

Velthuis provides an example. “An engine has main bearings, and these sometimes sustain damage and break down, for example when fuel leaks into the lubricating oil. Just before the breakdown, the engine temperature will shoot up, an alarm will go off, and the engine will stop. This action saves the engine, but not the main bearings, which are expensive and time-consuming to replace,” he says.

With Expert Insight, the deviation is recognised as soon as the temperature goes up even slightly due to increased internal friction . “Then it becomes possible to save the main bearings,” Velthuis continues. “It’s really about fixing small problems to prevent big ones.”

Strengthening product development philosophy

Velthuis underscores that finding ways to serve the customer better is a constant priority and central to Wärtsilä’s product development philosophy.

“Raising efficiency, safety, and performance levels is at the heart of our Smart Technology approach, and the Expert Insight innovation fully supports this philosophy,” he says.

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