Author Archives: Danny Shorten

About Danny Shorten

Experienced Marine, Offshore and Land based Condition Based Maintenance advisor

PdM or CBM

The application of condition monitoring tools to look for signs of failure can result in cost increases if we are not careful.

Whilst we fully support CM, PdM and CBM this investment only creates a return when we can do something useful as a result of this new insight.

The failure modes that cause failures in our equipment must be managed and this can be via a mix of strategies, dependant upon the criticality of each functioning asset.

Simply buying in new CM technology will not improve the reliability of your asset population.

Our view, for what its worth, is that every company has a different aversion to risk, it has different missions and objectives. We have been taught this as a means to differentiate and to create a space for our organisations to flourish.

We must really understand what it is we can do to ensure that poor reliability does not impact in a negative way upon our business operation.

In the spirit that prevention is better than cure, intelligence gathered from our assets that we can use to inform how we maintain them is a good thing.

Whether we use this to derive either a predictive element or an early reactive capability, will be down to the strategy that each company develops.

How do you actually resource a truly condition based maintenance operation based say on the IIoT?

“If we only react to assets that reveal their deterioration, then we aren’t back in the days of firefighting again?”

It is true that for facilities that enable truly predictive technologies to “protect” their assets, that the dilemma will be how to ensure that the right skills and resource are available to react to the call for action when it comes. Like buses, you may wait all day and then find that they all come at once, how do we manage this?

The potential problem is that companies may see IIoT as a means to design out the need for maintenance skills resources to reduce costs. Clearly operating on a minimal resource when there are fluctuating demand cycles will leave you wanting at times when you are in the most desperate need for available resource. So this must not be a driver in the evolution of maintenance management strategies.

However if you take a look at the value structure of maintenance management the real return on investment is elimination of failures and not the ability to react to them when they present themselves. Yes we need to know early so we can plan and so we avoid secondary and tertiary effects of faults, but our goal is 100% up time no failures, no down time, lowest cost.

So how to we do this?

Well, its like all the best strategies, there is a mix of resource and deployment strategies that will be right for each entity.

Starting with the human resource there will be an optimal number of permanently employed and correctly skilled engineers and technicians however, they must be capable of both reacting to unplanned events such as a need to intervene and restore function but they must also be gainfully employed in the elimination of failures at times when no intervention is required.

We must remember that the majority of maintenance jobs, some of which can be handled by machinery operators ( TPM model) are not high technology jobs but more about maintaining standards, cleanliness, oil levels, noting and reporting performance changes and changes form the norm.

There are tasks such as retrospective analysis of machinery performance and reliability data in order to uncover, understand, and manage issues that lead to opportunities for improvement or elimination of failure.

There are knowledge transfer activities to ensure that we do not lose valuable insight as we move forward.

So the answer to resourcing is to take a wide and pragmatic view to the need to properly resource our maintenance needs, to not see reductions in the labour resource as where the cost savings are.


One year in


Work life balance working out great

Its been just over a year now since we got going with Optimain Limited, so I thought I may spend a moment to update you regarding where we are one year in.

Within my company Optimain Ltd,  have and continue to enjoy success with a number of varied work packages, from strategic development, business policy creation and sourcing profit from maintenance to direct service and training on essential aspects of CM, CBM, Asset Management and preparation for big data as well as offering direct added value services like independent oil analysis plus vibration analysis and thermography.

As some of you may know we had a rather difficult time around five years ago when Rosie was dealing with breast cancer. Yes, we were on the precipice of the worst outcome for some time during treatment and we knew only too well that the veracity of the disease meant that we may not have caught it in time. We also had to deal with the fact that we were not in a position to have any more children and that our family aspirations had significantly changed.

We are now 5 years post treatment and whilst the drugs are still being taken and the effects of those drugs still in evidence, we have life, we have an amazing daughter and we have solidified our relationship. (A statistically unlikely outcome we are told).

To enable Rosie to fully reinvent herself away from cancer survivor and such we have re-organised our lives. I took the decision to leave permanent full time employment, with one of the best employers in the business, Lloyd’s Register and re-establish the family before setting up a small lone wolf consultancy based around machinery care and enhanced return on investment for critical assets.

Rosie has since embarked upon her calling to get involved in the creative process. Last year she enrolled in an arts foundation course at Trowbridge where she exercised her desire to explore her creative and aesthetic abilities.

She not only enjoyed the course but excelled and frankly ate it up with vigour and relish! To such an extent that she was awarded a distinction and advised to explore at a higher level to fully develop her clear capabilities and aptitude. To that extent she has now enrolled within he University Arts London faculty at Wimbledon to take a two year Masters in Fine Art concentrating upon sculpture with an identity based upon the reimagining of “found things”.

Sea are so proud of her. She is doing really well!

What this has meant though, is that now I am bound by the bookends of an 8 year olds school day for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays most weeks. I work between these times and occasionally arrange extended child care with the great friends we have here. This allows me to allow me to perform the various face to face and site based activities which form an essential part of my business activity, but clearly reduces spontaneity and requires a little more management and care to organise.

However, this has impacted upon my ability to reach out and engage, so I am looking for new ways to do so and also re-assessing what my companies real value offer to prospective clients is! Can you help or advise?

I have found that many companies either do not see the value in, or believe there is no appetite to having an external and knowledge based perspective towards their asset and reliability management policy, strategy and activities. I had expected this to be present in some cases, but not so prevalent in most. This may be down to the age old issue of face saving, but there is pure benefit of engaging an external person, in that there is no need to engage a full time person, but moreover that you can set the agenda and to be honest then take the credit if it is successful and defer criticism if it is not. This is not so challenging a point as most people will respond positively to an “expert” as opposed to the current leadership trying something different. We have seen it and proved it.

In my experience however, if you frame the question well then you will almost certainly be able to demonstrate an improvement that is tangible, meaningful and more importantly be able to see it in the balance sheet.

That said, I am now teaming up with other CM and CBM professionals who are more service orientated and aligning multiple CM activities such as Vibration & Oil analysis as well as Thermography. This can really can cover 99.9% of the prevalent intelligence gathering issues around the most significant failure modes we face as practicing maintenance and reliability professionals.

We see the method by which you shift a maintenance culture from being reactive and schedule based, to one of continual optimisation and the ongoing improvement of reliability, as being achieved by gathering good data on which you can start to derive the intelligence necessary to drive maintenance job creation. Once established, then reactive demand is lessened freeing up time and then scheduled work that is superseded by condition based work can be eliminated from the maintenance schedule. This can be done without cause to force a “coup d’etat” and can be the seed that creates the necessary evolutionary momentum from within to permanently improve asset heath.

So the nub of this blog update is to say, we are looking for low risk (for you) contracts where I can sit within your teams to help and guide the maintenance and reliability function, either as at a strategic level or as a practitioner and diagnostician. We are also offering independent lube analysis and onboard/site testing capabilities, and can link that to other offerings based around vibration and thermography. We can do this on and, offshore or aboard ships worldwide.

Please do get in touch and if you have any insight into how to reach out generate meaningful opportunities without annoyance please let me know. D



Marine Diesel Cylinder Lubricants


12S90ME-C Mark 9.2

As 2020 moves ever closer the need to ensure long term reliability is assured is a hot topic in the minds of the marine lube industry product development and marketeers.

The linked article by Dr Neil Canter for Tech Beat, references some of the key players in the lube oil field and is a very useful reference when trying to understand the future needs of the industry.

Cold corrosion gets a mention though the measures to engineer out the issue via choking the cooling circuits and thus raising the liner temperature above the dew point for the acidic byproducts is not mentioned. A fine read nevertheless.

Cylinder lube oil 2020

Oil analysis review for fleet management

Data Info Grahic Marine

So much useful information is waiting for you

If you operate multiple vessels within your fleet then as a fleet engineering manager, superintendent or technical director, you are missing some great insights into the areas where machinery systems are revealing opportunities for improvements.

Oil analysis reports get sent to the ship and they are either acted upon or filed according to the risk assessment performed by the Chief engineer. However, if you have multiple vessels you may not know if issues are being mirrored elsewhere and due to the daily prioritisation of tasks onboard these issues may not be being managed and resolved often with significant hidden cost.

By performing a simple review of the data from the fleet oil analysis repository we have found that there is a real opportunity to reveal hidden issues that are simple and often in expensive to perform.

In addition by performing this simple activity on an annual basis it is possible to review KPI’s and demonstrate an objective degree of improvement that can be used to demonstrate active asset management to your quality system and also to your clients via processes such as TMSA as used by the vetting agents for tankers.

We have performed a number of these activities both manually by reviewing paper/pdf reports and by using automated data provided directly from the oil analysis provider.

We can compare performance form ship to ship, or engine type A vs. engine type B etc. we can also look at the performance of EAL’s and stern tube systems, hydraulic oil cleanliness management, filter management etc. Meaning that what ever strategies you wish to employ we can look at the data to generate a high level set of information and insight to guide the management process.

Furthermore, this approach can be extrapolated and include other data sets for example, vibration analysis and thermography data as well as manually or automated watch data.

Call for more details and to discuss how we can help.

See this primer for more details CM as a fleet maintenance performance analysis tool


Focusing solely on the location of the pain may not reveal its source


Just before Christmas I was watching TV with the family, but unusually I was sitting on the floor, a carpeted but hard surface on which to sit. Every now and then I would shift my position as you might expect to to regain a more comfortable position.

I started to get a tightness in my outer thigh and a little discomfort in the knee, thought little of it and went to bed as usual. In the night the tightness awoke me and I tried to stretch the thigh to ease it with some improvement enough that I was able to get back to sleep.

The following morning I awoke and swung my self out of bed as usual but as my leg lifted I felt a monumental jolt of pain through the hinge of my knee, leading to an
unstoppable cry in pain and surprise.Knee and hamstring injury

I could hardly bear weight on the right leg a
nd found it hard to stand. I immediately called the GP and managed, luckily, to get an appointment with the practice nurse. Upon seeing me the course of action was as you might expect i.e. painkillers, advice to keep moving and to come back if things did not improve or deteriorated within a week.

Well, over the next two nights I found I could not sleep in bed as either the weight of my leg or the slight twist that you experience when lying on my side, even with a pillow under the knee did not afford any relief to the extent that I had to make my way with stifled cry downstairs to my fireside chair. Only here in a “W” configuration , i.e. sat upright knees bent and under the influence of Codeine could I manage the odd hour or two of restful sleep. This continued for three more nights by which time the good lady said that she could take no more of my visible discomfort so she advised that I return to the nurse, which I did the following day to be told that my only course of action was to visit my local A&E, something that I would have avoided normally so as not to burden the stretched service with a non life threatening situation, but unfortunately I had no other option as the pain and discomfort was not easing over time.


Upon arrival I was dealt with quite quickly being mid morning on a weekday, but it became clear quite early on that they were more concerned about my pain relief activities than my pain. This became further evident when I revealed that I had been taking Codeine routinely every two or three hours for the last 48 or so hours. I had not been taking Codeine -i.e. Codeine Phosphate but Cocodamol which contains paracetamol and as such I had involuntarily overdosed by some considerable margin.

This resulted in a 30 hour stay in the A&E observation ward whilst they pumped three bags of detoxifying fluid into my system. Paradoxically I knew quite well that Paracetamol should not be consumed above the recommended dose but being racked with pain and making the false assumption that I was taking Codeine Phosphate I had simply self medicated without checking the label. (Embarrassing at best and potentially fatal a mistake at worse).

That done, we had an X-ray and an ultrasound scan to look for mechanical sources of the knee pain and also to check for a potential aneurysm or clot bit of which came back negative. The only other non invasive option was an MRI scan to detail soft tissue damage but this was not possible so upon completion of the detox and the all clear from the blood tests I was discharged with Codeine Phosphate this time and an appointment for the aforementioned MRI.


By this time the pain was starting to improve and the tablets allowed me to sleep lying down but not on either side. However what came through was the numbness in the out thigh accompanied by a sense of surface discomfort akin to having been scalded by hot water. I realised that this had been there and I had reported it, but it had been less significant and as such I had not made much of it. But now, the knee pain being controllable, it became quite obvious.

I had mentioned this in A&E but as you would expect the clinicians were focused on the knee as this was the primary complaint. But now I started to think along lines of a machinery diagnostician, remembering that root cause may not be initially obvious.


More of that in a while, however I went to see the orthopaedic consultant, a very professional and practical clinician who reviewed the MRI and indicated his disappointment that we had not been able to have it done during the most acute period of the discomfort. He reported that there was evidence of swelling and some wear and tear as you might expect for the patient, but that there was no evidence of any mechanical anomaly that might be addressed by surgery or the like. His only advice was to keep moving and report any changes at the next appointment to follow up in 5-6 weeks. Meanwhile he recommended a consultation with the physiotherapy team at my local hospital.

This was the most productive of the meetings as we discussed the system and not the components. I found that my knee and the muscles involved were each as strong as each other and that there was no specific reason why my pain should be referred here, however the knee is part of a lifting device which has elements in the spine, the hip the thigh and the lower leg, all of which refer to the knee as one of two primary mechanical hinges the knee and the hip.

I mentioned the numbness, the burning sensation, the tightness in the outer surface of my thigh, the pain in the knee and the particular ways in which I could initiate the knee pain by twisting or hanging the leg off the bed etc.


My therapist then lay me on my side and gently, using her elbow strangely enough, worked each muscle from my knee to my hip and at the hip stimulated a pain that referred to the exact spot that had been keeping me awake. So our conclusion was that there had been a compression of the nerve that controls sensation in the outer right thigh, this had lead to a tightening of he IT band that connects the hip to the knee and this had lead to the discomfort in the knee. So no knee injury, but lots of referred pain as a result.

At present this is only a theory but as the patient and one who has some logic built in, it makes complete sense.

What I conclude form this episode however, and the point I wanted to share with you is that the symptoms may not necessarily point to the source of the problem and if you do not take into consideration all the “actors” in the scene that is the fault, then it is possible that you will fix the symptom but fail to fix the root cause.

I know that a great many engineers replace pumps and motors when they fail, only to replace them again a short time later because the forces acting upon them are not right. I am also aware that you lose the hunger to get to the nub of the problem once the plant is up and running again.

Learning – We may get fewer unnecessary sleepless night if we simply undertake and completed a thorough root cause analysis each time we find a component in a failed or failing state.