In recent years, IMO regulation on ballast water management systems (BWMS) has come into force and BWMS has become a compulsory element of commercial shipping.

As of 2021 June, nearly 18.7% of the existing global fleet was fitted with a BWMS. . Pandemic delays and growing orderbooks are stimulating the development of the supplier market. BWMS suppliers are confident that 2022-2023 will mark a turning point in the market as installation volumes reach their peak.

With so many different solutions and amateur suppliers attempting to seize a slice of the market share, it’s increasingly difficult for owners to identify the best BWMS solution. Therefore, choosing an experienced partner with proven technology is paramount to avoid uncertainty and delays as installation volumes rise.

Headway Technology Group, developer of OceanGuard BWMS is one such provider. TradeWinds Content Studio engaged with Headway to learn more about the current state of play, and what to look for when choosing a solution and partner.

Proven, stable operations

With so many BWMS solutions available, finding the right one is a daunting task for many owners. Some rely on electro-chlorination (EC) while others utilise UV radiation. It can be difficult to identify which one is best.

But when it comes down to it – for shipowners – compliance is the most critical consideration. Whether the system uses EC or UV, if the BWMS performs poorly and doesn’t pass the port state control – your vessels will face delays, leaving you with tons of unnecessary costs.

The easiest way to mitigate these risks is to choose a solution backed by a seasoned provider with proven technology. Headway’s fully automatic- back-flashing filter is one such technology, promising long-term stable operation with no clogging in the most formidable conditions.

Container Ship in Port of Hamburg Photo: Dimitri Anikin; Unsplash

A particularly challenging environment is Germany’s Port of Hamburg, where salinity can be as low as 3 practical salinity units (PSU) during low tides. In fact, OceanGuard BWMS can treat ballast water with salinity as low as 0.85 PSU thanks to its advanced electrocatalysis oxidation process (AEOP), which was independently developed by Headway.

German shipowner Bertling adopted this technology for some of its newbuildings when it enlisted Headway’s services in a 2013. The success of the project led to a formal agreement in 2017 and long-standing partnership between the two companies.

Total cost of operations

A cutthroat market is emerging alongside the rising demand due to an increasing number of suppliers eager to seize a slice of the market share. With so many options available, many owners will choose the cheapest, fastest solution to get their vessels in the water and within compliance.

Typically, owners mainly focus on the flexibility and feasibility of installation, such as what type of BWMS will best serve their vessels or in terms of operation limits such as water salinity and turbidity. Further operational considerations include whether the system is single treatment or not, delivery times and general footprint. Once these considerations are made, owners will often prefer the lower contractual value for installation.

Headway's OceanGuard BWMS.

BWMS installation costs are certainly an important consideration to make, however, it’s important that the total OPEX is considered before investing in a solution. The rush to outfit vessels to be in compliance has led to many owners overlooked aspects of the whole.

Headway aims to provide its clients with a full picture of short and long term OPEX, such as power consumption, training costs, purchase & storage of spare parts, service costs, etc.

For example, if dirty seawater mixed with impurities flows into the tank without filtration, owners can end up spending a lot of time and money cleaning the tank at regular intervals.

An independent laboratory has conducted a test in Zhoushan, a muddy water area in south China. In a series of comparison tests, a 50μm filter for Headway BWMS with a treatment rated capacity (TRC) of 300m3/h can, on average, filter out 7.61kg of silt per cubic meter of water. Based on the data, it's easy to calculate that Headway’s filtration can prevent over 7000 tons silt from flowing into tank for a VLCC with a capacity of 96,000 cubic meters in Zhoushan water for 10 voyages per year.

Global service network

Photo: Headway

In today’s remote world, the availability and convenience of global service is more important than ever. When it comes to BWMS, service does not just mean maintenance but also means installation commissioning, troubleshooting, and training – sometimes in a very short time.

In 2019, Greek shipowner Marla Dry Bulk purchased a second-hand ship equipped with OceanGuard BWMS. Prior to this, their crew had never operated such a system and proper, timely training was required to get the vessel in the water. Thanks to its extensive global service network, Headway was able to quickly respond to Marla Dry Bulk’s needs and thus on-site training was completed within just one week of the request.

The challenges of the pandemic, particularly in travel and communication, exemplified the importance of truly global and comprehensive service.

At the beginning of July 2020, one of Bertling’s ships urgently needed to dock and delivery of its BWMS had to be shortened by no less than three months.

Faced with a tight deadline and other challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Headway’s team adjusted their plans accordingly. Its team completed design, production, and transportation of the ship’s BWMS in just two months.

“It was all under short notice and I have to say thank you to everybody involved in this project. This was a very good proof of our good relation and a proof to see that we both trust each other,” said Ralf Veigel, Bertling’s general manager.

About Headway Technology Group

Since the first order received from Europe for OceanGuard BWMS in 2011, Headway’s orders in the European market have grown steadily. Up to now, Headway has signed over 2,600 orders worldwide, which ranks among the top five in the world, according to LR statistics.

Headway has dedicated to the R&D of BWMS for more than a decade, working directly with classification society DNV to verify functionality and performance since the very beginning. OceanGuard BWMS was the first BWMS to obtain full-scale DNV approval, and holds certifications from ABS, BV, CCS, LR, and USCG.