When referring to deck machinery, one means the various systems and equipment that are present on a cargo ship. On a typical vessel, such machinery can encompass cargo handling equipment, mooring equipment, anchor handling equipment, emergency equipment, lifeboats, and much more. Depending on the particular deck machinery type and its use, a number of methods may be implemented to operate such apparatuses. In this blog, we will discuss some of the primary methods of powering and operating deck machinery, as well as safety tips for such equipment.
For many machines on a ship, steam power may be used for driving operations. With pipelines running from the deck to various apparatuses and equipment pieces, steam can be transferred through valve assemblies to adjust direction, pressure, and more. When operating mooring winches, extra back pressure valves are often implemented in order to provide control tension during stalling or stopping procedures. Additionally, back pressure valves are also useful to mitigate the amount of fluctuations that may occur as other deck machinery types draw on steam. As the complexity and lengths of steam-powered systems slowly were surpassed by hydraulics, they became less present on many cargo ships. Despite this, they can still be useful due to their lack of explosion or fire risk.
With hydraulic systems, a variety of tanks and pump assemblies are used to transfer oil to hydraulic motors. With a control valve, the motor is kept stationary during open phases. When the control valve is either throttled or closed, the motor will then begin to operate and oil is transferred back to the tank. With such methods of operation, motor speed can be adjusted smoothly. For marine applications in particular, the medium-pressure hydraulic system is the most desirable and may come in either an open or closed-circuit type. Low-pressure systems are also quite reliable in their use and are simplistic in design, though they can overheat when operated for a long period of time.
Beyond hydraulics and steam for the operation of deck machinery, electricity may also be used. In many early electrical installations, speed control could be achieved with the use of direct current power. For machinery that operates with alternative current, however, a pole-changing or slip-ring motor is required for implementing speed control. With the pole-changing motor type, varying speeds can be achieved while requiring large starting currents. With the slip-ring type, low starting currents may be used for operations but more maintenance is often needed to maintain their integrity. With most electrical systems for deck machinery, heavy continuous overloads may be an issue faced from time to time. As such, choosing electrical equipment should be done carefully and installed correctly.
Regardless of whether a ship's deck machinery relies on steam, hydraulics, or electricity, it is crucial that safety precautions are always followed during operations. During moorings, tensioning, or other procedures, supervision should be implemented to carry out operations correctly and safely. Additionally, some handling of machinery or cargo can be left to cranes and other lifting equipment to avoid injuries. As equipment can wear down over time, ensuring that everything undergoes regular maintenance may also improve the safety of a ship.
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