Implementing 5S in the Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide

Implementing the 5S methodology in the workplace is a fundamental step towards achieving efficiency, safety, and organization. 5S is a Japanese concept that stands for SEIRI (Sort), SEITON (Set in order), SEISO (Shine), SEIKETSU (Standardize), and SHITSUKE (Sustain).

Example of 5S methodology diagram. Source and Credit: Wikipedia

It is widely recognized as a cornerstone of Lean manufacturing and has found applications in various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and even on board vessels in the maritime industry. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key requirements for implementing 5S in the workplace, with a particular focus on proper workplace conditions, and delve into the role of onboard vessel marine engineers.

SEIRI (Sort)

The first step of 5S is to sort out the necessary items from the unnecessary ones in the workplace. This means identifying and removing any tools, materials, equipment, or documents that are not needed for the current work or are obsolete or broken. This will help to reduce clutter, waste, and confusion, as well as free up space for more important items.

Example of an unorganized workshop. Source and credit: Depositphotos

To implement seiri, marine engineers can follow these steps:

  • Make a list of all the items in the workplace and categorize them into three groups: essential, useful, and unnecessary.
  • Keep only the essential items in the workplace and store them in a designated location. These are the items that are used frequently or are critical for the work.
  • Relocate the useful items to a nearby storage area. These are the items that are used occasionally or are not very important for the work.
  • Dispose of or donate the unnecessary items. These are the items that are never used or have no value for the work.

SEITON (Set in Order)

The second step of 5S is to set in order the necessary items in the workplace. This means arranging and labeling them in a logical and systematic way so that they are easy to find, access, and use. This will help to reduce search time, movement, and errors, as well as increase efficiency and quality.

Example of a well organized workshop tool board according 5S methodology. Source and Credit: Unknown

To implement seiton, marine engineers can follow these steps:

  • Assign a specific location for each item based on its frequency of use, function, and size. For example, place the most frequently used items near the work area, group similar items together, and use vertical space for large or heavy items.
  • Label each item and its location clearly and consistently using words, colors, symbols, or pictures. For example, use color-coded tags or stickers to indicate different types of tools or materials.
  • Use visual aids such as signs, charts, diagrams, or maps to show the layout and organization of the workplace. For example, use a floor plan to show where each item is stored or a flow chart to show the sequence of work steps.

SEISO (Shine)

The third step of 5S is to shine the workplace. This means cleaning and maintaining it regularly to ensure that it is neat, tidy, and functional. This will help to prevent dirt, dust, oil, grease, rust, or corrosion from accumulating on the items or equipment, which can cause damage or malfunction. It will also help to create a pleasant and healthy work environment.

To implement seiso, marine engineers can follow these steps:

  • Conduct a thorough cleaning of the workplace using appropriate tools and methods. For example, use brushes, cloths, vacuums, or pressure washers to remove dirt or dust from surfaces or equipment.
  • Inspect all the items and equipment for any defects or faults and repair them as soon as possible. For example, check for leaks, cracks, loose parts, or worn-out components and replace them if necessary.
  • Establish a regular schedule for cleaning and maintenance activities and assign responsibilities to each team member. For example, assign daily tasks such as wiping down surfaces or equipment and weekly tasks such as lubricating moving parts or changing filters.

SEIKETSU (Standardize)

The fourth step of 5S is to standardize the workplace. This means creating a set of rules and procedures for implementing and maintaining the previous three steps of 5S. This will help to ensure consistency and continuity of the work practices and prevent any deviations or variations from occurring.

Example of implementing Seiketsu. Source and credit: Research Gate

To implement seiketsu, marine engineers can follow these steps:

  • Document the best practices for sorting, setting in order, shining, cleaning, and maintaining the workplace. For example, write down instructions for how to store each item or how to clean each equipment.
  • Train all team members on how to follow these practices correctly and effectively. For example, demonstrate how to use each tool or how to perform each task.
  • Monitor and evaluate the performance of these practices regularly and make improvements if needed. For example, use checklists or audits to measure compliance or quality.

SHITSUKE (Sustain)

The fifth and final step of 5S is to sustain the workplace. This means creating a culture of continuous improvement, where the previous four steps of 5S are followed consistently and constantly. This will help to maintain the benefits of 5S and prevent any backsliding or complacency from occurring.

To implement shitsuke, marine engineers can follow these steps:

  • Communicate the goals and benefits of 5S to all team members and stakeholders. For example, explain how 5S can improve productivity, efficiency, safety, and quality of the work.
  • Recognize and reward the team members who follow the 5S practices and achieve the desired results. For example, give feedback, praise, or incentives to those who keep the workplace organized, clean, and functional.
  • Review and revise the 5S practices periodically and adapt them to changing needs or conditions. For example, update the documentation, training, or monitoring methods to reflect new technologies, standards, or regulations.

In conclusion, 5S is a powerful methodology that can help marine engineers to optimize their workplace and enhance their work performance. By following the five steps of SEIRI, SEITON, SEISO, SEIKETSU, and SHITSUKE, marine engineers can create a workplace that is organized, clean, functional, consistent, and continuously improving. This will not only benefit them but also their clients, employers, and the marine industry as a whole.

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Navigating the Depths: The World of Marine Engineering at Sea

By:  Daniel G. Teleoaca – Marine Chief Engineer
Published: September 11, 2023

The Call of the Deep

The profession of marine engineering is often romanticized in popular culture, but those who choose to embark on this career path know that it demands much more than the allure of the open sea. It’s a field that combines technical expertise, adaptability, and a strong sense of adventure. In this article, we’ll delve into what it takes to become a marine engineer, the challenges they face at sea, the benefits of this career, and whether it’s worth the journey.

Becoming a Marine Engineer

Marine engineers are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining ships, offshore platforms, and other maritime structures. They ensure the safe and efficient operation of vessels, propulsion systems, and various onboard machinery.

A marine engineer working on a diesel generator inside vessel’s engine room

Here’s a glimpse into the journey of becoming a marine engineer:

  1. Educational Foundation: To become a marine engineer, one needs to have a strong background in mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science. A bachelor’s degree in marine engineering or a related field is usually the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. However, some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in marine engineering or a related field. Additionally, marine engineers need to have strong analytical, technical and problem-solving skills, as well as excellent communication skills, as they often work in interdisciplinary teams with other engineers, architects and multinational marine professionals.

  2. Hands-on Experience: After obtaining their degree, many marine engineers gain hands-on experience through internships or entry-level positions in shipyards or maritime companies. This practical knowledge is invaluable for understanding the complexities of maritime systems.

  3. Licensing and Certification: To work as a marine engineer, one often needs to obtain a professional engineer license and relevant certifications. These credentials vary by country but generally include rigorous examinations to demonstrate competence.

  4. Continuous Learning: The maritime industry is constantly evolving, so marine engineers must stay updated with the latest technologies and regulations throughout their careers. Seafarers who wish to stay competitive in the modern maritime market must develop and enhance their digital competence.

Life at Sea: Challenges and Rewards

The life of a marine engineer is not for the faint-hearted. Same as for the deck officers, it involves prolonged periods at sea, which can be physically and mentally demanding. Some of the challenges they face include:

  1. Isolation: Extended periods away from family and friends can be emotionally taxing. Marine engineers often spend several months on board ships, which can lead to feelings of isolation.

  2. Harsh Conditions: The marine environment can be unpredictable and unforgiving. Engineers must navigate through rough seas, storms, and extreme weather conditions, making their work physically demanding and sometimes dangerous.

  3. Long Hours: Marine engineers often work long hours, with irregular shifts.

    Marine engineer inspecting vessel main engine’s piston units

    They must be on call around the clock to address any technical issues that may arise.

Despite these challenges, a career in marine engineering offers several rewards:

  1. Global Adventures: Marine engineers have the opportunity to travel the world and experience diverse cultures.

    Sunset at sea by Chief Engineer’s Log

    They witness breathtaking sunsets over the ocean and encounter marine life rarely seen by others.

  2. Financial Rewards: The maritime industry offers competitive salaries, and experienced marine engineers are in high demand. This career path can lead to a stable and lucrative future.

  3. Technical Mastery: For those passionate about engineering and technology, marine engineering provides a unique platform to work on cutting-edge maritime systems and propulsion technologies.

Is It Worth It?

Ultimately, whether a career in marine engineering is worth pursuing depends on individual preferences and priorities. If you have a passion for engineering, a sense of adventure, and are willing to embrace the challenges of life at sea, it can be an incredibly rewarding profession. The financial benefits, opportunities for travel, and the satisfaction of contributing to the global maritime industry make it a compelling choice.

In conclusion, marine engineering is a demanding yet fascinating profession that combines technical expertise with the thrill of the open sea. It offers unique challenges and rewards, making it a career path that can be deeply fulfilling for those who choose to embark on the journey. So, for those with a heart for adventure and a mind for innovation, the call of the deep may be worth answering.

An Overview of Maritime Engineering, Containing Information on the Profession and Available Opportunities

I keep receiving a lot of messages with regard on what you need to do in order to enter the Marine Engineering field and become a Marine Engineer. Marine Engineering is a critical profession that forms the backbone of the maritime industry.

The area of maritime engineering is a fascinating one that plays an important part in the design, construction, and maintenance of a wide variety of structures and vessels that are employed in marine environments. Marine engineers are vital to the efficient operation of the worldwide marine sector since they are responsible for the design, construction and operation of ships, the development of offshore constructions, and the management of port infrastructure. In this article, we will look into the field of maritime engineering, focusing on its significance, important industries, viable career routes, school requirements, essential skills, and job prospects.

Maritime engineering is of the utmost importance since it provides support for a wide variety of industries and activities that are essential for global trade, transportation, and the exploration of offshore resources. Ships, ports, offshore platforms, and coastal constructions are all examples of infrastructure that require the skills of maritime engineers. Maritime engineers can be found in countries all over the world. These professionals maintain the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of marine operations, which makes them important in a world that is increasingly interconnected and largely dependent on sea-based trade and energy supplies.

Shipbuilding, naval architecture and seafaring are three of the most important subfields of maritime engineering. This subfields focuses on the planning, building, operating and upkeep of ships and other types of floating boats. Related subfields include oceanography and hydrography. When naval architects and marine engineers work together to produce new vessel designs, they can ensure that the resulting ships are structurally solid, reliable, and energy efficient.

Offshore Engineering is a subsector that focuses on the design and building of offshore infrastructure such as oil platforms, wind farms, and undersea pipelines, among other things. In this discipline of engineering, maritime engineers have specific obstacles that are related to the extreme environmental conditions that they work in, such as waves, wind, and elements that are corrosive.

The infrastructure of ports plays an essential part in easing the flow of commerce and transportation. Port and harbor engineering is a subfield of maritime engineering that focuses on the planning, design, and maintenance of port infrastructure. These port facilities can include docks, berths, channels, and navigational aids.

Coastal engineering is related to coastal locations which are particularly vulnerable to a variety of natural hazards, including erosion and flooding. Coastal engineers use a variety of methods, such as the construction of breakwaters, seawalls, and beach nourishment projects, to manage and protect coastlines.

A job in maritime engineering can lead to a variety of opportunities in a variety of various fields and businesses. The following are some possible directions to take your career:

    • Naval Architect: These professionals are involved in the design of ships and boats, doing hydrodynamic analysis, stability assessments, and structural calculations to ensure that vessels satisfy safety standards and performance criteria.
    • Marine Engineer: Maritime engineers focus on the propulsion systems, power production, and onboard mechanical systems of ships and other marine structures. They are responsible for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the machinery on the vessel.
    • Offshore Engineer: Offshore engineers are responsible for designing and constructing offshore platforms, wind turbines, subsea pipelines, and other infrastructure in harsh offshore environments. They may also be involved in the exploration of offshore oil and gas reserves.
    • Port and Harbor Engineer: These experts are responsible for the design, planning, and maintenance of port facilities such as berths, terminals, and navigational channels. They ensure the effective handling of cargo, the safe docking of vessels, and the appropriate utilization of the space that is available.

While often overshadowed by the romanticism of seafaring, marine engineers play a vital role in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of vessels at sea.

Marine engineers are the unsung heroes of the seafaring world, responsible for the smooth functioning of a vessel’s mechanical and electrical systems. They oversee the operation, maintenance, and repair of engines, propulsion systems, generators, and various onboard machinery. Their expertise ensures that ships can navigate through challenging conditions, maintain power supply, and respond effectively to emergencies, making them indispensable for the safety and success of maritime operations.

The responsibilities and duties of a marine engineer at sea mainly are:

    • Engine Room Operations: Marine engineers are primarily responsible for the proper operation of a ship’s engine room. They monitor and control the vessel’s propulsion systems, ensuring optimum performance and efficiency. This includes managing fuel consumption, engine temperature, and lubrication systems to maintain smooth operation throughout the voyage.
    • Maintenance and Repair: Marine engineers perform routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs on machinery and equipment in the engine room. This involves troubleshooting mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic systems, identifying and rectifying faults, and coordinating with the ship’s crew and shore-based technical support teams for complex repairs.
    • Safety and Emergency Preparedness: Marine engineers, same as deck crew, are trained in firefighting, damage control, and emergency response procedures. They ensure that safety systems, such as fire suppression equipment and emergency power generators, are in proper working condition. In times of crisis, marine engineers play a crucial role in mitigating risks and ensuring the safety of the vessel and its crew.
    • Environmental Responsibility: With the increasing focus on sustainability in the maritime industry, marine engineers contribute to environmental stewardship. They oversee the proper operation of systems for waste management, ballast water treatment, and emission control, helping minimize the environmental impact of the ship’s operations.

Marine engineers navigate a unique set of challenges while working at sea, like:

    • Remote and Harsh Environments: Marine engineers work in isolated and demanding environments, often facing extreme weather conditions and rough seas. They must remain adaptable and perform their duties effectively despite these challenging circumstances.
    • Time-Critical Maintenance: Maintenance tasks must be performed promptly to avoid downtime and ensure the vessel’s continuous operation. Marine engineers must possess excellent time-management skills to prioritize maintenance activities and conduct repairs efficiently while the ship is at sea.
    • Technological Advancements: Rapid advancements in maritime technology require marine engineers to stay updated with the latest equipment, systems, and regulations. Continuous learning and professional development are vital to adapt to the evolving industry landscape.
    • Teamwork and Communication: Effective communication and collaboration with the ship’s crew, officers, and fellow engineers are essential for seamless operations. Marine engineers must be skilled at working in a team, sharing information, and coordinating tasks to achieve common goals.

While the challenges are undeniable, marine engineering offers unique rewards for those who choose a seafaring career:

    • They have the opportunity to experience different cultures as they sail to ports worldwide. The sense of adventure and the chance to witness breathtaking seascapes make seafaring a truly unique profession.
    • Professional Growth and Development: Marine engineering offers excellent opportunities for career advancement and continuous learning. With experience, marine engineers can take on higher ranks, leading engineering departments and mentoring future generations of seafarers.
    • Financial Stability: Seafaring careers, including marine engineering, are financially rewarding. Competitive salaries and benefits are offered to marine engineers, making it an attractive profession.

To pursue a career in maritime engineering, a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, naval architecture, or a related field is typically required. Some universities and institutions offer specialized programs specifically tailored to maritime engineering. Additionally, pursuing advanced degrees, such as a Master’s or Ph.D., can provide further specialization and enhance career prospects in research or academia.

In addition to having a solid educational background, a number of abilities are essential for success in maritime engineering, including the following:

    • Technical CompetenceIn order to effectively address difficult problems relating to maritime engineering, one must have a strong foundational understanding of engineering principles, mathematics, physics, and fluid dynamics.
    • Capabilities in Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving – Maritime engineers need to be skilled in the ability to analyze data, recognize problems, and create workable solutions. They must be able to think analytically as well as imaginatively in order to conquer the one-of-a-kind obstacles that the maritime environment presents.
    • Collaborating and Communicating: Maritime engineers frequently collaborate with individuals from a variety of fields and work in multidisciplinary teams. For efficient collaboration and the effective transmission of technical information to stakeholders, strong communication skills are absolutely necessary.
    • Capacity for Adaptation and Resilience: The marine business is fast-paced and is vulnerable to ongoing shifts in the landscape. Maritime engineers should have the ability to adapt to new technology, laws, and trends in the industry while maintaining their resilience in the face of difficulties.

It is anticipated that there would be a continued high need for qualified maritime engineers in the years to come. As a result of the continued growth of the global maritime industry, there will be opportunities in the fields of shipbuilding, seafaring, offshore energy, the development of coastal infrastructure, and environmental sustainability. Furthermore, the increased emphasis on environmentally friendly technologies and the need to address the implications of climate change will generate new opportunities for maritime engineers to contribute to the development of innovative and environmentally responsible practices.

In conclusion, maritime engineering is an important and multifaceted area that offers a large number of job prospects. The future of the global marine sector is shaped by maritime engineers in a variety of ways, including the design, construction and operation of ships and offshore platforms, as well as the management of port infrastructure. Aspiring maritime engineers can embark on a fulfilling career path while contributing to the development, safety, and sustainability of the world’s seas and waterways if they have the appropriate educational background, skills, and a passion for the marine environment. This is possible if they have the proper educational background, skills, and enthusiasm for the marine environment.

As for marine engineering from a seafaring perspective highlights the indispensable role marine engineers play in the safe and efficient operation of ships. Their technical expertise, dedication, and adaptability ensure the smooth functioning of vessels at sea, facing unique challenges and responsibilities. The rewards of a seafaring career, including global travel, professional growth, and financial stability, make marine engineering an exciting and fulfilling profession for those passionate about the maritime industry.

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How to correctly operate positive displacement pumps?

Positive displacement pumps also known as volumetric pumps are very common and they are mainly used for high viscous fluids transfer, like fuel, oil and sludge. Gear pumps, reciprocating pumps, rotary displacement and vane pumps are the most known and common used onboard vessels.

Screw pump type. Source and credit: KRAL GmbH

In these above pumps a special form allows an almost tight engagement of three intermeshing screws 7 and 12 to be achieved. Together with the pump casing that encompasses the screw package , closed volumes are achieved by these means.
The standard direction of rotation of the pump is clockwise seen from the drive (identified by an arrow on the flange cover). When the main screw 7 is driven by a motor, the idle screws 12 follow the main screw due to meshing. The displacement effect of the pump results from the rotation of the screws that leads to continuous filling, axial displacement and discharge of the volumes.

Positive displacement pump working principle. Source and credit: KRAL GmbH

When newly installed or after a major overhaul, before the pump is started, the engineer must make sure that the pump is filled with fluid. This operation is very important because dry running can damage the pump.

Vent plugs on the volumetric pump. Source and credit: KRAL GmbH

Usually, there is a vent hole on the pump casing. If the pumped medium on the suction side is under inlet pressure, open the inlet valve and fill the pump. In the same time you can turn the shaft or the fan impeller of the motor by hand to speed up the filling process. Similar procedure can be applied when the pressure is already available on the pressure side. If there is no pumped medium available at either suction or pressure side, the fill the pump via vent hole. The pump must be filled until the fluid escapes at the vent hole.
After the pump is filled the direction of rotation must be checked. This is usually marked on the pump and as specified before is normally to the right (clockwise) as seen from the motor side.

The pump is sealed at the main shaft outlet by a shaft seal and the most known are the mechanical seals.

Mechanical seal

A mechanical seal contains three sealing points. The stationary part of the seal is fitted to the pump housing with a static seal –this may be sealed with an O-ring or gasket clamped between the stationary part and the pump housing. The rotary portion of the seal is sealed onto the shaft usually with an O-ring. This sealing point can also be regarded as static as this part of the seal rotates with the shaft. The mechanical seal itself is the interface between the static and rotary portions of the seal. One part of the seal, either to static or rotary portion, is always resiliently mounted and spring loaded to accommodate any small shaft deflections or shaft movement.

Mechanical seals require constant lubrication. The inevitable minimal leakage caused by the lubrication of the mechanical seal counts to a few cubic centimeters per hour and is imperative for proper functioning of the seal. The leakage vent holes in the flange cover will allow the drain of this regular leakage.
Dry running must be avoided at all costs , as the seal will overheat and be destroyed in a matter of minutes.

Mechanical seal. Source and credit: KRAL GmbH

In case of mechanical seal failure, the below video is self explanatory with regard to mechanical seal replacement.

Mechanical seal replacement. Source and credit: KRAL GmbH

Excessive pressure can build up in positive displacement pumps if a delivery pipe becomes blocked and the parts under pressure may even break. Therefore the pumps are fitted with an overflow valve (pos. 2) to protect them against this type of problems during operation. Usually the valve is accessible via a plug screw (pos.1) in the end cover and can be adjusted without disassembling the pump.
Normally when leaves the manufacturer’s workshop, the valve opening pressure is set at 110 % of nominal pressure.

Structure of a screw pump. Source and credit: KRAL GmbH

These valves are safety elements and should not be used for pressure control or regulation, like maintaining pressure. If the valve is kept open for too long, under adverse conditions, it will take few minutes for the valve and valve seat to be damaged. As a result, the valve will permanently leak and there will be a reduction in the delivery rate. Similarly, circulation through overflow valve for too long can lead to pump overheating who will reduce the fluid viscosity and can lead to pump failure.

In conclusion, for starting and operating positive displacement pumps the following procedure and precautions can generally be applied:

  • before starting, the engineer must ensure that the pump is filled by opening the vent plug until the fluid escapes at the vent hole as explained above. Never start the pump without priming it first.
  • make sure that suction filter is cleaned.
  • make sure that pressure gauges are functional and calibrated.
  • ensure that, especially on old pumps model, quenching oil level is adequate.
  • engineer must ensure that suction and delivery valves are open. Dry running of the pump can damage its components within minutes. Similarly, running the pump with close delivery valve must be avoided.
  • adequate suction pressure must be always available for proper function of the pump. Proper attention should be paid to vessel’s bunker transfer pump, especially when bunker tanks stripping process takes place, as is highly likely of pump losing its suction and running dry.
  • shortly start the motor to check its rotation, especially for newly installed pump or after a major overhaul. If the direction is wrong, change the motor phase connections and try it again.
  • the pump should be operated with at least 1.5 bar differential pressure to ensure that internal components are properly lubricated by the pumped fluid.
  • systems where positive displacement pumps are used must be equipped with a safety device like pressure regulating valve and engineer must ensure that the valve is properly working and adjusted. The pump and system should not be used without or with defective pressure regulating valve.
  • the pump should not be operated outside its designed specifications.

Engineer’s proper care and regular service maintenance as per manufacturer’s instruction manual will ensure a long service life of the pump without being necessary to intervene for repair and troubleshooting. Engineers must be familiar with pump’s operation and monitoring and during their regular engine room rounds must ensure that:

  • pressure gauges are functional.
  • pumps are running within designed parameters.
  • quenching oil is at the correct level.
  • there are not abnormal sounds or vibrations during operation.
  • the pump is not overheated.
  • there are no abnormal leaks present.

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