Live from the Sea
By: Sergio Rivera
We offer Parts Replacement as a Service (PRaaS), delivering secure, scalable and cost-effective digitized inventory and on-site production solutions. Working with leading partners across maritime, offshore and the construction industries, the Ivaldi PRaaS Solution reduces inventory, warehousing needs, delivery times and cost of logistics by allowing organizations to send files, not parts, thanks to additive manufacturing.
The “Live from the Sea” series is a monthly feature of a part delivered to one of our end-users. One of our team members will be writing an article after visiting a vessel, whom we delivered a part to. This is an opportunity to share about the amazing work we get to do everyday with our customers!
Vessel visits are a key component for us to understand our users’ needs and see, first hand, how our service can be of help to the crews. The visits themselves, which you will read about in this series, is one of the most critical and challenging tasks our team has to perform weekly.
This second article of the series is by Sergio Rivera, Industrial Designer, and describes a vessel visit he did from our Singapore location.
Boarding a new vessel is always exciting. Each one of these giant machines is unique as there are no standard models. Each vessel is built uniquely to fulfill their customers’ needs. On March 5th of 2019, I got the opportunity to board a 190 meters (623 feet) long cargo vessel that has seen her fair share of the world.
This visit was conducted a little bit late (at around 1 pm), which means that we got right on time for lunch! The friendly kitchen staff invited us to gather around the dining area where they spoiled us with a fantastic chicken with curry and fish with tomato sauce accompanied with some fresh coconut water. To finish, we had flan. This crew surely eats well!
Now with a full belly, I proceeded to meet with the captain at the bridge. He was open to help me on whatever I needed. I asked him permission to make a trip around the deck and the engine room, which he happily granted.
As usual, I started with a round trip in the deck where something odd quickly caught my eyes! There were almost no caps to be found! With some exceptions, the majority of the tubes and connections were capless. As I was starting to make some hypothesis of the reasons why this was happening, I spotted a perfect place to install one of our parts.
It was a water tube located between two hatches. There was no cap around, so, with the authorization of the crew, I proceeded to install it. This type of thread size is one of the most common along vessels. The cap itself is printed out of copolyester, which is a polymer that can withstand the UV light and salt water that is present on deck. Besides its physical properties, it’s given the necessary performance. Since it is made of plastic, it doesn’t need any painting coat.
After making a tour around the deck, I started to explain our services to the crew, and they seemed quite interested in the technology. They told me that the reason why there were almost no caps around was that many of them get stolen as they are made of brass. To protect them, they store the original caps and replace them with a cheaper version made of tin coated steel, but because they don’t fit as well as the original, they tend to fall around.
I told him that I installed one of those caps, and he was quite amazed as this solution would solve many of their problems. These parts are made of plastic so they wouldn’t get stolen, and they don’t need any type of maintenance. Because the fit is the same as the original cap, they wouldn’t fall anymore.
After the deck, it was time to pay a visit to the engine room. This is usually a more dangerous environment so I asked the captain to see if there was someone to guide me through the room. As usual, the engine room was really noisy and hot – nothing that some earplugs and plenty of water can’t solve, though!
Here, I could gather plenty of information about many parts. A family of them were engine bolt covers. This cylindrical plastic pieces are designed to protect the bolts of the engine cover against dust, oil and whatever hits they receive while in operation. They come in different shapes and sizes and are vital to proper engine conservation. Many of these were broken or lost, and because usually these machines are quite old, getting the spares is difficult. This is an excellent use case for 3D printing!
Getting to know the crew’s pain points at first hand and paying attention to their issues gives Ivaldi a lot of value as we can gather information that manuals can’t provide! There is always something more in the context of a part than just dimensions and physical properties. Human factors make a big difference too. That’s why doing these vessel visits allow us to offer a more complete service.