Case Study: Nanoprecise System’s Performance on the Northwestern

The attached case study describes how the Atlas Reliability Nanoprecise system identified two problems aboard the Northwestern. The first anomaly was an under-lubricated bearing. The sensor’s acoustic emission capability made this detection possible. The second fault was an imbalance on the drive end of the reduction gearbox. The crew and Atlas personnel received notification from the system of an increasing imbalance. The case study outlines the data and artificial intelligence used to detect these faults. The crew was able to complete their transit and address the issue upon returning to port. Significant damage and potential loss of propulsion was avoided with the Nanoprecise system

Review the brief case study and contact us with any questions or to learn more about the Nanoprecise system and it’s extensive capabilities.

The Atlas Reliability Nanoprecise system on board the fishing vessel Northwestern

FV Northwestern Case Study, 11/23/2021


The Fishing Vessel Northwestern is a famous crab fishing vessel featured on television for more than 15 years. It operates in one of the most dangerous fisheries in the world. The crew of Northwestern battle against deadly Alaskan seas, freezing weather, and dangerously brutal storm conditions to catch their quota. Survival In these conditions is dependent on the reliable operation of ship machinery and systems. Maintenance is an integral part of their daily regime.

Atlas Reliability, LLC, a Distributor for Nanoprecise, has been a supplier for the Fishing Vessel Northwestern for more than three years. Atlas has partnered with the crew of the Northwestern to provide innovative solutions for the challenging environment for which the ship operates in. Being able to plan the maintenance and prevent catastrophic failures has been key to the success in the relationship with Northwestern.

the challenge

Major maintenance at sea is impossible to accomplish due to sea conditions and logistics. Critical systems functioning to support safe navigation and operations prohibit taking equipment offline while the ship is operating.

Maintenance work is typically completed while the vessel is dockside. When the ship is docked in Dutch Harbor, AK. access to materials and trained personnel are still challenginghen the ship is docked in Dutch Harbor, AK. Planning maintenance tasks is an even more critical task due to long transit times and expensive expedited fees.

With longer time spent at sea, the chances of equipment failure propagation leading to a catastrophic failure becomes increasingly likely. Vessels of this type do not have room for excessive redundant systems.  So, the crew of the Northwestern vessel decided to incorporate a predictive approach towards their maintenance activities to avoid any operational failures and ensure smoother sailing.

The productivity of service vessels depends on reliable working condition of the propulsion system. These systems consist of main engines, reduction gearboxes, propulsion shafts and propellers. The reduction Gearbox is used to convert the output shaft revolutions from the main engine to those required to rotate the propeller. Failure of the reduction gearbox can lead to loss of power to the vessel’s engine, leading to financial loss and potentially human life.

the solution

Atlas Reliability and Nanoprecise proposed the Machine-Doctor™ wireless sensors. The Machine-DoctorTM wireless sensors were installed on all critical assets. Battery powered wireless sensors started sending six data packets per day. This data includes acoustic, acceleration, magnetic flux, RPM, temperature and vibration. The Nanoprecise SaaS-based analytics platform uses an encrypted & secured network using Edge and Cloud computing. The RotationLF™ analysis platform provided automated data analysis using highly sophisticated algorithms. This ensures that the Northwestern crew can focus on their operations.

what was detected

RotationLF™ indicated a rise in the amplitude of the acoustic emissions of a bearing on the first transit. The crew of the Northwestern shipping vessel was then notified. Working with the crew, Atlas Reliability remotely coordinated troubleshooting and identified that a lack of grease was likely responsible. This caused the crew to grease the bearing which resulted in lowering the acoustic signal back to the baseline level.

On August 29 & 30, 2021, the Northwestern team received a NanoAI alarm from the Nanoprecise Dashboard, indicating an unbalance on the drive end of the Reduction Gearbox. An increase in the vibration RMS for the Z-Axis (vertical) was flagged as the value exceeded the NanoAI alarm threshold. There was no marked increase in the X or Y Axis (Axial or Horizontal). The system noted an amplitude increase of 1X RPM (the 1st harmonic of RPM). The amplitude of 1X @ 1378RPM reached 0.3in/sec on Aug 29 & 30, 2021. There was no major change in the ultrasonic or temperature signature for these times.

Frequency Spectrum Waterfall

Vibration RMS Plots

Fault Amplitudes: Unbalance

The same increasing trend was observed in the amplitude plot of the fault mode Unbalance.

the outcome

The Nanoprecise system provided the notification to key people about this abnormal trend and the crew of the Northwestern vessel reduced the RPM from 1378 to 1002. This resulted in a decrease of the amplitude velocity from 0.3in/sec to .14 in/sec in the axial direction. The frequency of the Alarm was at 1X RPM. This was indicative of an unbalance (displayed in the NanoAI Alarm Threshold Amplitude).

Upon a detailed discussion with the technical team, the Northwestern Vessel personnel planned for an inspection on the coupling between diesel engine and the gearbox. This inspection could be scheduled for their arrival at Dutch Harbour.

The automated AI-based predictive maintenance solution consisting of Machine-DoctorTM sensors and RotationLF™ platform sensed & detected anomalies from the output parameters of the machines, and alerted staff of the fishing vessel regarding these unusual trends automatically. As a result of the accurate diagnostics, the team was able to take immediate action. A potentially catastrophic failure was avoided.

About Nanoprecise

Nanoprecise specializes in the implementation of Artificial Intelligence and IoT technology for predictive asset maintenance and condition monitoring. Our timely and accurate diagnosis of machine faults provides our clients with insights that allow them to make decisions that will help save considerable time and resources. Nanoprecise is headquartered in Edmonton, Canada with branches also in Bangalore, India; San Diego, USA, and Newcastle, UK. We have managed to establish ourselves as a trusted solution provider in the asset management industry.

About Atlas reliability

Atlas Reliability, LLC is a turn-key maintenance and reliability provider located in Houston, Texas.

We have over 50 combined years of experience designing and implementing maintenance and reliability programs. Our industry partners are world class product manufacturers on the cutting edge of the technology. Our condition monitoring solutions are all designed to meet the stringent requirements of the maintenance and reliability professionals.

Atlas Reliability’s focus is making our clients self-sufficient in maintenance and reliability. The solutions we provide are tailored to each plants’ unique needs. We ensure our customers have the tools and training required to achieve their reliability goals.

Contact Atlas Reliability, LLC                                

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