Norwegian and German businesses will develop a marine automation and digitalisation platform for newbuilds and retrofits
Co-operation between a ship designer and propulsion systems manufacturer will deliver a new level in marine automation and digitalisation as owners seek to invest in hybrid and electric-drive ships.
Norway-based Ulstein Group and Germany-headquartered Schottel will each own 50% of Blue CTRL, which will further develop the X-Connect platform for vessel automation. This platform monitors and controls vessel propulsion and manages onboard alarms and power systems.
This automation platform will used for newbuilding projects and vessel upgrades, including retrofits for hybrid propulsion.
X-Connect provides human-machine interfaces and graphical displays for multiple vessel systems, including a wide range of ship propulsion modules.
It is the backbone for a range of products: alarm and monitoring systems, 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 said. “This again will lead to reduced fuel consumption, reduced emissions hence greener operations.”
Investment in 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 said. “It enables us to offer smarter and integrated controls for both newbuilding and existing vessels.”
He thinks businesses need to work together to develop new products for the next generation of vessels. “Partnerships are essential in the current market,” he said.
X-Connect functions will be predefined and configurable to vessel owner requirements.