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Maintenance 4.0 for Transport for London

Woolwich Ferry Wireless Condition Monitoring

One of the two new hybrid ferries

There is a rich history of a ferry service across the Thames; recorded in the Domesday book 1,000 years ago and often pushing the boundaries of vessel and mooring technology over the years. In February 2019 two new hybrid ferries were put into service, along with high-tech auto mooring systems at Woolwich and North Woolwich piers.

Dame Vera Lynn and Ben Woollacott ferries

Commissioned by Transport for London; marine engineering and operations specialists Briggs Marine, successfully managed the ambitious project from design, build and launch of what is one of the most significant technological achievements since 1963 when roll-on roll-off ferries were first introduced.

The two new ferries have replaced the old fleet and make the service more reliable and comfortable for customers. They have more space, cycle-specific facilities and use a quieter, low-emission engine.

The vessels were built by Polish company Remontowa and sailed to London from Poland.

The improvements contribute to the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy and support the Mayor’s goals for cleaner air and more river transport, leading to a number of benefits such as;

  • Improved reliability
  • 14% more space for passengers and vehicles – the boats can carry 150 passengers, with 210 metres for vehicles across four lanes as well as dedicated cycle spaces
  • Step-free access
  • Enhanced safety – the new vessels berth using magnetic technology, making them more stable to board and alight

The new ferries also meet London’s Low Emission Zone standards because they use a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system. This means these boats are:

  • Fuel efficient
  • Less noisy
  • Producing fewer emissions – two filtering systems like the ones used on London buses reduce pollutants

Wireless Vibration & Temperature Monitoring

As well as being technologically advanced in terms of propulsion & mooring systems; Briggs Marine have implemented latest Predictive Maintenance technology to ensure reliability and safety.  Wireless vibration and temperature sensors have been fitted to critical equipment on the vessels and mooring systems which detect changes in machine condition early enough to find and fix faults before becoming problematic.

So condition data is collected 24/7 and presented on Briggs Marine’s control systems and smartphones;

Control desk and smartphone data and dashboards

Erbessd Instruments’ “Phantom” condition monitoring equipment specified and installed by CBM Partners Ltd provides Brigg’s personnel with proactive maintenance information such as;

  • Alarm notifications
  • Machine health dashboard
  • Live condition data capture
  • Cloud-based data analysis
The Ben Woollacott and Automatic Docking System

Oliver Mottershead, CBM Partners’ engineer responsible for installing the Woolwich Ferry system said of Phantom; “It makes wireless/auto condition monitoring affordable; skilled personnel can spend time analysing data rather than collecting it!  And technically it beats most other systems, hand-held or wireless; cloud-based, long battery life, long-range Bluetooth, 10kHz and with powerful analytics built-in.”

Wireless vibration sensors, bluetooth gateway and 4G module

Mark Taylor, Technical & Asset Manager, Briggs Marine “We chose a modern wireless monitoring system over routine hand-held devices as part of our advanced maintenance strategy.  I know that data is being collected on all critical assets at all times and in all weathers!”. 

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