How to effectively monitor ship fuel consumption without additional sensors

Nov 30, 2022 | Blog

Advances in maritime digitalization have led to an increase in investment for better monitoring of fuel consumption. Electronic Fuel Monitoring Systems can provide valuable, real-time information on equipment performance and fuel consumption, but they can also be costly to install. While sensors can be a potentially attractive option, other options also exist to ensure effective monitoring and improve your fleet’s fuel efficiency. So How to effectively monitor ship fuel consumption without additional sensors?

The importance of measuring ship fuel consumption and inventory movements

Fuel consumption measurement enables companies to track their fuel usage, have a better understanding of their energy efficiency and monitor the technical performance of the engines. As for a car, being able to frequently monitor the fuel tank levels enables better planning of bunkering and the controlling of any abnormalities related to engine malfunctions and maintenance.

It’s important to remember that bunker movements are just as important. It’s essential to keep an eye on the invoices associated with the charge and discharge of fuels so companies can ensure integrity in the process.

For fleet managers, detailed monitoring in place helps the:

  • Gain insights on how to adjust their fleet operations to improve efficiency
  • Reduce their carbon footprint
  • Control operational costs
  • Identify cases of fuel theft.
  • It also quantifies the reduction in fuel consumption gained from efficiency improvements such as hull cleaning.

In short, it gives Fleet Managers the data to follow up on an objective, with a data-driven basis for making the best decisions about their fleet’s current operations and future trajectories.

Why install additional ship fuel monitoring sensors onboard vessels?

Society is becoming increasingly aware of the impact of shipping emissions on the environment. This, combined with continued increases in fuel costs and supply chain tensions, leads to high demand for systems that monitor fuel consumption on a per-engine basis. That’s why installing sensors on vessels can be a game-changer for improving fuel monitoring.

These systems can collect real-time information, providing valuable input to decision-makers looking to control and optimize fuel consumption. Their main disadvantage is the high cost of installing them. This can be a prohibitive barrier to adoption in a very competitive sector like shipping.

While modern ships are already equipped with many sensors, including on generators, pipes, and pumps, the wide variety of manufacturers and technologies used, coupled with limited internet connectivity at sea, make it challenging to collect this data.

Installing fuel monitoring systems requires not only deploying new equipment onboard but it putting in place a data management process that supports the appropriate use of such data with the goal of bringing insights, and facilitating decision-making.

What are the alternatives to Electronic Fuel Monitoring Systems?

Fuel consumption data integration

There is an alternative to additional costly hardware installations (sensors, EFMS, and others). While the installation of such equipment can be beneficial, the costs can reach over $100,000 per ship. The high costs keep some of the players from investing in this technology due to the high competitiveness of the sector. However, data integration, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can be leveraged to monitor ship fuel consumption as well as hardware when combined with tank soundings.

By collecting data from multiple sources, including logbooks and reporting software, companies can both monitor consumption and understand consumption patterns. Therefore, the simplest solution for measuring energy use is to source relevant data on fuel consumption daily directly from existing reports completed by onboard crew.

This information, once gathered, is easily transmitted to shore, even with poor internet connectivity, and it fits within the reporting that crews are already required to do. Unlike data sourced from sensors, this method is not vulnerable to equipment faults and breakdowns.

Tailor-made data analysis

Opsealog’s tailor-made estimation algorithms can use this daily information to measure and analyze fuel consumption. They can check reporting precision and identify potential data entry errors. They can also validate any additional data that is being collected from existing onboard equipment, highlighting sensor malfunctions if they occur.

Data Quality

The more sources of data, both historical and real-time, the greater the sophistication that can achieve in the analysis of fuel consumption data. However, at Opsealog, we believe that it’s data quality, not quantity, that counts. Even relatively small datasets yield significant potential for optimizing vessel operations and saving fuel. The proper analysis can identify abnormal or high ship fuel consumption situations, pinpointing where corrective action will be beneficial.

Focusing on data quality is at the heart of our work at Opsealog. Even when using sensors, ship owners need to ensure that the data collected is good and implement processes to control and ensure data quality. At Opsealog, provide reports and dashboards related to data quality. With this data, shipping companies make sense of their data, pinpoint inefficiencies, and rectify them. No hardware is needed. We can launch our solutions anywhere in the world and deploy them reliably, even in challenging environments.

Effectively collecting onboard information via e-logbooks

Our onboard report software and e-logbook, Streamlog, simplifies daily reporting onboard vessels, reducing crew reporting workload. It digitizes information, mitigates errors, and facilitates data entry for personnel. We then integrate multiple data streams into a single, unified platform, providing vessel operators with visualization and expert analysis on our Marinsights platform.

Even without expensive sensor installations, these insights can be directly applied to the goals sensor data aims to achieve. They can help optimize fleet operations, reduce environmental impact, streamline vessel deployment, and boost revenue. Improved efficiency helps curb fuel consumption, pollution, and the logistics costs of fuel supply. It can also reduce engine running times, which in turn reduces spares and maintenance costs.

Fuel optimization and environmental regulations

Increasing environmental concerns and rising fuel costs are everyday concerns with long-term implications. Regulations such as the IMO’s Carbon Intensity Indicator scheme mean that shipping companies will need to measure and improve their environmental footprint over tight timeframes. Added to this will increase pressure from charterers, financiers, and land-side communities.

New low-carbon fuels will be needed to meet society’s longer-term decarbonization goals, and they are likely to be more expensive than current fossil fuels. Therefore, the ability to optimize operational efficiency will only grow in importance in the future.


After experiencing the benefits of simple solutions based on manual data gathering, shipping and offshore companies may choose to take their maritime digitalization strategies one step further. They can do this by installing sensor-based electronic fuel monitoring systems that automatically gather fuel consumption and bunker data and transmit it to shore.

Opsealog is committed to using its maritime and data expertise to help shipping companies minimize the cost of both existing and new fuels by reducing fuel consumption. We believe that the cleanest fuel is the fuel that isn’t used, and we firmly stand by the belief that optimization doesn’t have to be expensive, complex, or a burden to crews.

Interested in learning more about our solutions?

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