New models of integrated bridge systems will enhance towage operations, improve situational awareness and lower safety risks
Builders of tugs and workboats have new ranges of integrated bridge systems to select from on their latest construction projects. These have simplified architecture, more user-friendly workstations and additional functions for enhanced manoeuvring, towage and transits between ports.
The latest bridge technologies were presented to Tug Technology & Business during the SMM exhibition in Hamburg, Germany in September. During that event, Japan Radio Co’s (JRC) Alphatron Marine unveiled the ProLine package of bridge equipment for tugboats, intercoastal vessels, workboats and fishing vessels.
ProLine was set up as a one-stop-shop for bridge equipment with packages that consist of a full range of mandatory and non-mandatory equipment, including JRC’s JMA-5200/5300 ProLine radar series.
This is available with a non-SOLAS 60-cm radome scanner with a 21-in display or as a European Union-approved radar with a 19-in display and various selectable scanners.
ProLine also includes autopilot, echosounder, searchlights, sonar, gyro compasses and a newly designed command chair. All equipment in the ProLine package will be delivered ex-factory and can be integrated with a three-year warranty.
This is a development from JRC/Alphatron’s Alphabridge, designed to optimise workboat, offshore vessel and tug wheelhouse operations. ProLine is designed to be operated by one person on the bridge with all electronics and displays within reach of the master.
Kongsberg Maritime unveiled its new integrated bridge system that fuses positional and situational sensors together to improve awareness for the navigator. Information is sourced from radar, the automatic identification system (AIS), cameras, sonar, laser and positioning sensors.
This delivers a holistic real-time navigational picture to a workboat master, based on precise data from these diverse sensors, said Kongsberg Maritime senior sales manager Roger Trinterud.
“Our sensors can characterise an object or calculate if another vessel is heading towards the tug,” he explained. “It will provide navigators with advice and manoeuvring suggestions, which the master can either follow or ignore.”
Kongsberg Maritime also introduced an all-speed autopilot that combines traditional autopilot and trackpilot functions and dynamic positioning (DP) into a single, common control. “It will use DP for keeping in a geographic area and then when the throttles are opened up the autopilot function will take over,” Mr Trinterud said.
Roger Trinterud demonstrated the master's chair display on Kongsberg's new bridge
Other functions introduced in this bridge system include automatic docking and soft thruster assist functions to improve safety for critical operations.
Kongsberg intends to “rapidly prototype this system for navigation” and offer it to vessel operators before the end of 2019, said Mr Trinterud. “The first generation will give navigators advice and then the next step is for more automatic and remote control of a vessel.”
There could then be one human-machine interface for vessel transits, DP, docking and voyage control. Information could also be sent to shore control centres for remote control or monitoring vessel operations.
“Vessel masters could work together and data could be shared over maritime broadband radio for co-operation in towage projects”
Mr Trinterud said a similar system could be developed for managing simultaneous offshore and towage operations. “Vessel masters could work together and data could be shared over maritime broadband radio for co-operation in towage projects,” he explained.
Norwegian Control Systems is developing an integrated navigation system (INS) for workboats and vessels with one master’s chair for monitoring and controlling multiple functions. The company expects Raven INS to be available for newbuilding projects in Q1 2020.
It will incorporate multiple wheelhouse electronics, such as radar, ECDIS, autopilot and conning, plus options including sonar, echosounders, voyage data recorders and communications equipment. Raven will also interact with other key systems on the vessel, or tug, for monitoring and control, including propulsion, DP and winches.
Norwegian Control Systems master for marine sales and design Ole Husøy said Raven INS will accommodate future requirements for integration, operation and safety. “This is a forward-looking product that will rationalise work on the bridge and make life easier for masters.”
This future could include controls for hybrid propulsion and for semi-autonomous tug and workboat operations. Raven may also eventually be used for autonomous vessel operations. Its displays will present information of relevance to the different tasks the vessel performs.
All of the functions and applications will be accessible from the operator’s chair, where the main development focus has been on functionality, said Mr Husøy. This could include controlling thrusters or deck equipment. Raven will be a scalable and flexible INS suitable for workboats and megayachts of between 25-150 m in length.
Norwegian Control Systems worked alongside Norwegian Electric Systems to develop electric propulsion, automation and navigation systems to be integrated in one vessel.
Enhanced situational awareness
Raytheon Anschütz unveiled its new Synapsis NX integrated bridge system at SMM after improving user interfaces on key equipment, such as radar and ECDIS. It developed new software using the expertise of experienced navigators and specialist user-interface designers, said marketing manager Martin Richter.
“We have increased situational awareness and enhanced the visuals while making features easier to use to reduce the need for familiarisation training,” he said.
Synapsis NX is based on modular software operating in graphical user interfaces and includes new features and decision support devices. For example, Raytheon Anschütz introduced integrated target and alert management combining information from radar and AIS.
Targets appear consistently on any display and all applications use similar sensor data. Synapsis NX has centralised alert management that reduces the number of alarms that can distract masters.
Radar NX has an improved and non-distracting overview that Mr Richter said enables faster interpretation of the radar image. It has functions for optimised target tracking, anti-clutter processing and merging radar images.
ECDIS NX has functionality to simplify routines, such as hiding function panels allowing the master to maximise the chart window to support his route monitoring tasks, said Mr Richter. Within ECDIS, route planning is a wizard-guided process and voyage selection tools include interfaces to the ship-shore data exchange.
Hatteland Display introduced its latest navigation station and touchscreen monitors at SMM including a new device for controlling the display’s functions. Its navigation station is a 55-in electronic chart or technical table with 4K resolution and a 40-point multi-touchscreen, said sales director Mehdi Bounoua.
A new 43-in display has the same resolution and multi-touch functions but for main bridge operations. Hatteland is developing stylus and tactor devices navigators can use with the screens “for moving charts around or turning dials for remote operations,” said Mr Bounoua. These new controller devices are expected to be introduced in 2019.
Also at SMM, Lilaas demonstrated some of its new controls for tugs and workboats as it works with several bridge system suppliers to develop and customise products for towage applications. It introduced a new azimuth control lever for anchor handling tugs and a joystick for high precision steering.
Electronic & Marine Research Industries (EMRI) demonstrated a flexible joystick panel for workboat manoeuvring. This IMJ11 panel can be used for controlling vessel propulsion and comes with various steering module options, including a mini-wheel and joystick. IMJ11 can come with a bracket to make the panel portable.
EMRI said IMJ11 displays propulsion information on a central screen and has programmable categories that present the vessel’s status, conning, heading and speed information.