New human-machine interfaces, integrated bridges, automation, sonar and docking technology enhance situational awareness and reduce stress for captains
Next-generation tugs will have human-machine interfaces (HMIs) that display essential information for masters and chief engineers without cluttering the wheelhouse.
These interfaces will visualise tug systems including engineroom machinery, propulsion and automation while displaying navigation and manoeuvring information.
Damen Shipyards is introducing integrated HMIs in its newbuildings to improve information display for crew. These HMIs were developed in partnership with VanBerlo, Praxis and Böning for bridge, engine control and switchboard rooms in close consultation with captains and chief engineers.
There are separate displays for tug navigation, towage operations, engine and thruster controls, tank levels and winch operations which can be chosen depending on which crew member needs them, says Damen senior design and proposal engineer for tugs Jean-Pierre Stevens.
“Our HMI is easy to use, intuitive and displays what is needed when it is needed,” he explains. “There is a lot of information on tugs – a lot of electronics, automation and alarms. Our goal was to have clear visibility for captains and chief engineers without distraction from other data.”
Damen has developed an HMI nautical dashboard in the wheelhouse for captains to view heading, speed, fuel consumption, tug heeling angle and other alarms. There is an HMI technical dashboard for chief engineers that displays information on box coolers, generator sets, engines and thrusters.
There is also an HMI indicating information required for winch control, such as port and starboard forces and wire length. Plus, a dashboard displaying tug systems’ information, such as fuel tank levels, pressures and consumption rates.
“Our standard HMIs are compatible with existing systems, comply with regulations and are cyber secure,” says Mr Stevens, adding they were designed to give masters more time to manoeuvre tugs and operate winches while towing larger ships towards ports at greater speeds. “Captains and chief engineers want information that is important to them, but not the clutter.”
Damen technical manager for tugs Jeffrey Jacobs explains why it is important to prioritise information in HMIs.
“During operations, decision making by the crew has to be quick, despite them being under pressure, so any information has to be clear and relevant to each particular stage of the operation,” he explains.
“Our HMI covers the fully integrated and class-approved alarm, monitoring and control system. It is future-ready, having been designed to accept additional applications on multiple devices at a later stage.”
Ulstein Group and Schottel jointly developed Blue CTRL’s X-Connect vessel automation and propulsion HMI for anchor handling tugs and other workboats. This integrates automation for monitoring and controlling vessel propulsion, managing onboard alarms and power systems.
X-Connect HMI includes graphical displays for multiple vessel systems. It is the backbone for a range of products: alarm and monitoring systems, the integrated automation system, and energy and power management systems.
Ulstein Group deputy chief executive Tore Ulstein thinks closer integration between the marine platform and the propulsion system will improve vessel operations.
“If we manage to streamline more data between the different systems on board, we can optimise dynamic positioning and operations,” he says. “This again will lead to reduced fuel consumption, reduced emissions hence greener operations.”
Blue CTRL is an extension of Schottel’s position in bridge modules and propulsion control technology, where it has developed vessel positioning capabilities.
Schottel chief executive and president of industrial operations Stefan Kaul says this will drive development of intelligent systems for marine automation and digitalisation.
“The Blue CTRL systems will provide a solid system for offering hybrid and electric solutions,” he says. “It enables us to offer smarter and integrated controls for both newbuilding and existing vessels.”
Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine is developing networked bridge systems, including radar, alarm monitoring and ECDIS. It is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Decca radar by developing Sperry Sphere to integrate vessel navigational operating technology and wider maritime networks.
Components include networked bridge solution VisionMaster Net, “designed to provide the navigator with the maximum situational information in all conditions” says Sperry Marine technical director Nick Hollaway. VisionMaster Net also provides the platform for enhanced navigational aids for onboard and remote decision-making, combining radar technology with high-precision location sensors and security video.
These systems also have Sperry’s cyber security layer, Secure Maritime Gateway, which uses multiple firewalls to maintain cyber hygiene on connections to the navigation systems.
Flir Systems unveiled Raymarine DockSense Alert in September, to assist masters docking workboats. This uses intelligent object recognition and motion sensors to help captains safely monitor their surroundings and dock their vessels.
It detects, displays and alerts masters to obstacles around the vessel using Flir machine-vision camera technology, video analytics and live video feeds.
These are shown on a Raymarine Axiom multifunction display connected to the DockSense Alert central processor that can be linked to five DockSense stereo vision cameras.
DockSense Alert accurately measures distances to the dock, pilings, and other moored vessels, and provides real-time visual indicators along with live camera views.
“Docking a vessel can be a stressful experience, even for the most experienced captains,” says Flir commercial business unit president Travis Merrill. “DockSense Alert helps reduce the stress of docking and improves a captain’s handling skills.”
Sonar provides masters with important seabed information to prevent a vessel accidentally grounding in shallow-draught marine environments. FarSounder has increased its echosounder capabilities by broadening the field of view to up to 120˚ in its series of forward-looking sonar. This is an improvement on existing equipment that provide users a 90˚ field of view out to 500 m and 60˚ out to 1,000 m. With this update, both 100 m and 200 m range modes will have 120˚.
FarSounder says this “adds a dimension of situational awareness to captains and crew navigating their vessels”. With this field of view expansion, FarSounder’s sonar “will now be able to aid them further in making the necessary judgment calls to navigate safely in lesser and uncharted waters”. FarSounder’s sonar will help captains avoid obstacles such as icebergs, reefs, large marine mammals and other floating objects.
Furuno has introduced a wider scanning range to its sonar for shallow water detection. FSV-75 provides a half-circle colour image of the seabed and marine mammals in higher detail than previous versions.
It developed signal processing technology to increase the sensitivity of the sonar and enable detection and tracking of hazards over a considerably larger area.
FSV-75’s fan-shaped beam scans from the sea surface to the seabed at twice the speed of previous models with an extended detection range. FSV-75 sonar uses a high frequency of 180 kHz to detect smaller hazards than previously. A control panel features 10 function keys and the ability to register popular functions from a selection of 40.
JRC/Alphatron Marine has unveiled a heat detection system to identify possible heat source threats and alerts the chief engineer and master. Early detection is often cited as key to preventing loss of vessel and seafarers.
AlphaHeatDetection can identify potential fires before ignition, smoke or flame, using thermal cameras. Streams from these can be transferred to shore over communications networks.