Higher resolution ENCs, ultra-high definition displays and more fleet management functionality is coming to e-navigation
E-navigation and voyage planning requires higher resolution electronic navigational charts (ENCs), larger high definition screens and automatic updating services. It needs a mixture of electronic navigation publications, weather and metocean data and folios of global ENCs at different scales.
For more exact navigation in coastal areas, harbour areas and shipping lanes, better ENCs are being produced with high density bathymetric information from multibeam sonar surveys.
When these are available, organisations such as the UK Hydrographic Office is sending them to ships with regular updates. With high density bathymetric data, masters and navigators have greater confidence to sail through channels and in shallower waters without risking grounding.
This increases the amount of open water ships have for manoeuvring and navigation, especially in straits, channels and harbours. Hydrographers in the UK, Singapore and Australia are leading the investment in high definition bathymetric data for ENCs.
Hydrographers worldwide are also improving the category zone of confidence (Catzoc) on ENCs so navigators can be more confident about calculating under-keel clearance. Catzoc of A1 means the bathymetric data is from a multibeam survey and the quality will be high.
Otherwise, there are Catzoc values to provide advice to navigators on the confidence they can have for calculating under-keel clearance, and around 70% of all ENC cells worldwide have accurate Catzoc values.
Alternatively, Catzoc U is for ungraded, which means there is no level of certainty that the depth value is accurate to any percentage as there are areas around coastal states where hydrographic officers have not yet assessed survey areas to get accurate Catzoc values. The International Hydrographic Organization is trying to address these issues and remove Catzoc U from ENCs.
ENCs need to be consistently updated on ECDIS to ensure navigators can use the latest hydrographic data with confidence. Ships also need to keep updated with the latest navigation information that comes from temporary and preliminary notices to mariners, which are published by ENC suppliers, such as UK’s Admiralty and ChartCo and Norway-headquartered Nautisk and C-Map.
Beyond ENC updating
E-navigation is becoming more than route exchange and voyage planning. According to ChartCo chief commercial officer Howard Stevens, it should also include regulations compliance, environmental security and safety management.
ChartCo is helping shipping companies make the transition towards an ever-more complex digital navigation and compliance-driven future, said Mr Stevens. It offers version 5.4 of EnviroManager, which helps crews comply with both Marpol and national regulations.
This software indicates to crew what discharges are and are not permitted at any location around the world, including bilge water, sewage, air emissions, garbage, food waste and ballast. This information can be used for routeing ships between regulatory jurisdictions and ensuring vessels remain in compliance, Mr Stevens explained.
ChartCo also offers FleetManager, which helps shore-based staff access live ship management and tracking data at any time through the internet. It links with ChartCo’s PassageManager software so shore staff can review active passage plans.
In May this year, Nautisk launched an automated and secure ECDIS chart updating service, NaviUpdate as an alternative to conventional approaches for ENC updates, CDs or USB devices. NaviUpdate acts as a server on the bridge delivering updated information directly to ECDIS. It is protected by a robust firewall and thorough antivirus software.
Nautisk head of marketing John Dawson said it was developed in partnership with MarineMTS, rigorously tested and compatible with existing Nautisk products including NaviPlanner voyage planning software.
“It delivers real-time vessel tracking and monitoring and utilises multiple data streams,” he said. These include GPS, automatic identification system and radar. NaviUpdate can also monitor engineroom systems and send reports back to shore.
C-Map has added an integrated maritime suite (IMS) of services to its flat-fee and pay-as-you-sail ENC supply and licensing arrangements for commercial shipping. IMS combines route optimisation with weather, navigational charts and digital publications and can be integrated with C-Map’s shoreside fleet management tools. It relates to voyage planning and nautical information management, while helping owners lower fuel consumption and operational costs.
In May, C-Map introduced an updated version of its FleetManager program. This web-based product collates information about ship performance and route optimisation in real-time.
AI route planning
Norway-headquartered Navtor and Japan’s Weathernews Inc (WNI) are incorporating weather information in ship voyage planning. Since March, Navtor has used WNI information within its software on route planning workstation, NavStation.
Navtor said it would also work with WNI “to develop a ground-breaking artificial intelligence (AI) routeing service, which could revolutionise route planning, efficiency and safety within the maritime industry”.
They are integrating WNI’s shipping weather service and fleet management platform into NavStation. Next they will work together to develop an AI route planning service combining weather information, electronic chart information and navigation knowledge.
This AI system would learn to perceive its environment and recommend optimal actions that support onboard crew and onshore control management, said Navtor chief executive Tor Svanes.
He said NavStation is used for passage planning and optimising routes based on weather reports. It can run on Windows operating system computers and is mostly used with a 46-in touchscreen monitor that can be used as a digital chart table.
There has been an increase in the variety of voyage planning stations. Apart from NavStation, JRC offers AlphaChartTable, Kongsberg has its K-Nav planning station, while Sperry Marine and Raytheon Anschütz also have voyage planning stations.
A key element of these is the large high definition display. Denmark-based ISIC has developed 55-in displays for planning stations and front-bridge systems. Its DuraMON 55-in and DuraMON 32-in displays are available with 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) resolution and feature P-CAP multi-touch interfaces. These can be used as a front of bridge electronic chart table, for ECDIS and radar applications, said ISIC chief executive officer and managing director Henrik Hoe Knudsen.
For these large screen formats “full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution does not always make the cut and 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) resolution will be preferred” to provide the desired detail and picture quality, he explained. DuraMON 55-in has multiple video inputs that enable split-screen functionality, with a capability equivalent to four full HD 27-in images allowing mariners to work with radar and ECDIS, plus two additional screens at the same time.
Navigators “can create their own dynamic workstation using the touch functionality to select, drag and drop the desired navigation screen they want to work with or to layout the desktop to their own personal preference,” said Mr Knudsen.
DuraMON 55-in has a touch-disable button that allows the user to turn off the P-CAP touch functionality to avoid unintentional touch input during work sessions. The touch sensor supports up to 10-point action.
These products “reflect the current market trends for flexible and high resolution screens with direct onscreen interaction and intuitive graphical user interfaces and functionality that is very similar to what is known from smartphone and tablets” said Mr Knudsen.
Traditionally, ECDIS and radar workstations have ISIC’s DuraPanel 24-in 16:9 and 26-in 16:10 screens. ISIC developed low power and high performance microprocessors and an LED backlight for these panel PCs.