TS Laevad sails into a greener future with Blueflow
Estonian ferry operator TS Laevad has managed to lower fuel consumption and cut emissions by 6% using the Blueflow energy management system. In addition, data from the system helps the company schedule preventive maintenance and plan future additions to the fleet. The direct feedback to the crews is a key reason why Blueflow has been a success, and the system will be fitted on all future vessels operated by TS Laevad.
Sailing in beautiful but fragile surroundings in the Baltic Sea carries certain responsibilities, and Estonian ferry operator TS Laevad takes those responsibilities very seriously. “Our ferry services and ports of call are located in a sensitive maritime area which enjoys special protections under the European Natura 2000 convention”, says Virgo Saul, Technical Solutions Manager at TS Laevad. “When we took over the ferry services in 2016, we committed to an ambitious plan for reducing our ecological footprint”.
TS Laevad operates two ferry routes in western Estonia, Virtsu-Kuivastu and Rohuküla-Heltermaa, using four ferries: the mf Leiger, mf Tõll, mf Tiiu, and mf Piret. Both routes are quite challenging: The Rohuküla-Heltermaa crossing goes through channels where the under-keel clearance is frequently below 0.5m. While the water is deeper on the Virtsu-Kuivastu crossing, it has three times as many moorings and loading/unloading operations, and its harbours are more exposed to stormy southerly winds. In the winter, operating conditions vary greatly from day to day because of sea ice.
The mission: reducing fuel consumption and environmental impact
Varying operating conditions and individual styles of navigation naturally result in differences in fuel consumption. To get a better overview and to see if it was possible to use less fuel, lower environmental impact, and still adhere to timetables and navigate safely, TS Laevad decided to test the Blueflow energy management system.
“After analysing the energy and fuel consumption differences on a monthly basis, we realised that the results were inconclusive and higher accuracy data was needed”, explains Guldar Kivro, Member of the Board and Manager of Shipping Operations at TS Laevad. “We decided to use the Piret as pilot ship for a 6-month Blueflow test project before deciding if we wanted to install the system on its sister vessels. After 4 months, it was clear that the payback period for the Blueflow installation was less than a year”. TS Laevad then installed Blueflow on the other three ferries and expanded the basic installation to include more modules and a monitoring station in the engine control room.
“We decided to use the Piret as pilot ship for a 6-month Blueflow test project before deciding if we wanted to install the system on its sister vessels. After 4 months, it was clear that the payback period for the Blueflow installation was less than a year”.
Member of the Board and Manager of Shipping Operations, TS Laevad
Complete overview of energy usage
The Blueflow energy management system monitors and analyses energy consumption on board, showing the crew how much energy is currently being used for propulsion, navigation, hotel loads, and other onboard consumers. The system includes factors such as wind speed and direction, depth, vessel speed, and course.
By doing so, Blueflow provides a very precise overview of the correlations between energy usage, current sailing conditions, and crew actions. This information is displayed to the crew in real time, allowing them to make immediate changes to reduce energy consumption, for example by changing course or adjusting the speed. Blueflow does not interfere with the crew’s actions; it only provides suggestions that the crew can act on at their discretion. In addition, energy usage figures are presented in online reports.
6% fuel savings and improved planning
For TS Laevad, the project was a success: On its four ferries, the company cut fuel consumption by 6%, and achieved corresponding emissions reductions, compared to a six-month period without Blueflow. The crews achieved this primarily by optimising acceleration and deceleration manoeuvres, particularly on the Rohuküla-Heltermaa route. “In shallow waters, you need to understand where you can increase speed if you are behind schedule”, remarks Virgo Saul. “It’s not very meaningful to do that if you have only 0.5 metres of under-keel clearance. If you wait until you are in deeper waters, you can achieve the same result with less energy”.
The data from Blueflow also allowed TS Laevad to fine-tune its preventive maintenance schedule. “After monitoring the vessel propulsion energy consumption data and comparing it between sister vessels on the same route, we realised that it is perfect for planning underwater hull cleaning”, says Virgo Saul: On ships where hull cleaning was delayed, the thrusters used up to 20% more energy to keep the ferry on schedule.
The detailed figures are also being used for design and planning. TS Laevad is planning to add a new all-electric ferry to its fleet, and is investigating options for converting the Piret to fully electric operation. “For both projects, Blueflow has been extremely helpful for planning battery capacity, energy management, and propulsion systems, as we have realistic input on energy consumption, requirements, and navigational condition data from the existing fleet”, adds Virgo Saul.
TS Laevad is satisfied with the service and support received from DEIF during the process of installing and operating Blueflow on its four ferries. DEIF provided training which proved to be inspirational for the crews, and questions and support requirements were resolved very quickly. “During purchase, installation, monitoring, and aftersales, our cooperation with DEIF has been perfect”, says Virgo Saul. “When I was chief officer on the Piret, I would often be thinking about technical schematics and sending emails with questions at two o’clock at night because I didn’t have time before. I was quite impressed when on one occasion I received a reply at four o’clock in the morning!”
TS Laevad needed to install upgrades during the COVID-19 pandemic when technical staff from DEIF could not be present due to travel restrictions. According to Guldar Kivro, however, this was no problem. “After I had introduced DEIF and Blueflow to everything on board our ships, they had a complete overview of our systems, and it was very smooth”, he says. “They sent everything prepared in boxes so we could install it ourselves. It was almost plug and play!”
Sailing into a greener future
Satisfied with the results so far, TS Laevad are planning to equip all future ferries with Blueflow. The company is currently working to integrate the Events module which will ease reporting, and the ETA module which will give crews an even better overview of how they can sail economically and still adhere to the schedule.
With Blueflow on board, TS Laevad’s crews has the information they need to sail safely and contribute to protecting the beautiful Natura 2000 scenery in western Estonia. “I can sum it up very shortly”, concludes Virgo Saul. “Direct feedback and good reporting and analysis tools lead to better performance of the crew and vessel. Better performance leads to lower fuel consumption and GHG emissions. And lower fuel consumption and GHG emissions lead to better economical results and a greener environment”.
Per Ole Sørensen
Solution Manager, Marine & Offshore and Engine MFG