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COMMENT NEWS HARDWARE INNOVATIONS SOFTWARE UPDATE MARKETPLACE
Keeping up-to-date with the charts: Navigators need to recognise even up-to-date charts may not be based on recent surveys
New horizons 28 Bringing maintenance to
80 Coleman Street, London EC2R 5BJ Tel: +44 (0) 20 7382 2600 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7382 2669 www.imarest.org Editor: Kevin Tester firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher: John Barnes email@example.com Advertising Manager: Susan Glinska firstname.lastname@example.org Graphic Designer: Jo Cooper
VSAT communications Tuning into Ka-band: 8
Cruise ship focus 20 Digital technologies
Though it offers higher capacity at less cost, Ka-band may not suit shipping 12 Teleport to success: The role and impact of land-earth stations on ship-board satcoms services investigated 16 Hybrid systems revisited: Using a TV-RO antenna can reduce the total running costs of maritime broadband
boost allure of Oasis: MITE takes a look behind the scenes at the IT and communications systems on board Oasis of the Seas
Training 30 Moving online enables
Ship design 36 A foretaste of design
Electronic charts 24 ECDIS takes its first
training on-demand: Locally installed training programs are giving way to web-based versions
steps on the web: Chart consoles are no longer isolated from the Internet following the arrival of new firewall hardware
techniques to come: MITE reviews the latest developments in computer aided ship design
Ship management 32 Ridding ships of
(virtual) life: ʻAugmented realityʼ visors may one day aid engineers carry out maintenance tasks in real-time
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deadwood: Owners are hopeful that ShipDex-based electronic documentation will reduce the need to carry ʻuser-unfriendlyʼ manuals 34 Scanning to speed up onboard stock takes: ABS believes barcodes could streamline inventory management
© Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (2010). All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form (including photocopying, storing in any medium by electronic means or transmitting) without the written permission o f the copyright owner except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd, 6-10 Kirby Street, London, England, EC1N 8TS, website: www.cla.co.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for the copyright owner's written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to the publisher. Information published in MARITIME IT & ELECTRONICS does not necessarily represent the views of the publisher. Whilst effort is made to ensure that the information is accurate the publisher makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness of such information. It accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any loss damage or other liability arising from any use of this publication or the information which it contains.
New higher bandwidth MITE arrives Welcome to the inaugural stand-alone issue of the newly revamped Maritime IT & Electronics (MITE). Our fresh format will allow us to bring you, our readers, the most comprehensive coverage and thoughtful insights on the impact information technology and communications is having across our industry, both on board ship and ashore, both today and tomorrow. The core themes of ship-toshore satcoms, safe navigation and back-office software will feature prominently in every issue. These will be complemented by articles honing in on particular niches where digital systems are changing how shipping goes about its business as well as technologies just over the horizon and heading our way. A key objective of the new MITE is to introduce and explain the latest innovations in an easyto-digest and accessible fashion, sifting through the unintelligible jargon, which can sometimes confuse and cloud the real issues. Most importantly, we recognise that technology is only a means to an end – not an end in itself. For this reason, we will strive to draw tangible conclusions on the potential of technology to boost vessel safety, operational efficiency and the commercial bottom-line. Virtual Network In recent times there has been a marked proliferation of companies offering VSAT to the maritime market. While competition should be viewed as a positive, it should be recognised that many new entrants are virtual network operators (VNOs), which do not own their own capital infrastructure, ie teleports. Instead, 2
MITE May 2010
they hire and join together just the facilities they need to get data flowing between ship (or any mobile asset) via satellite to shore. For the companies involved, this makes good business sense. By effectively outsourcing infrastructure, everyone can concentrate on what they are best at. Satellite operators are not distracted from keeping their satellites in the correct orbit and working. Teleport operators can focus on the operation and maintenance of teleports. The VNOs can tend to their customers’ needs. This new model has in part become possible due to the increasing sophistication of thirdparty tools for remote ‘network operation’ management – hats off to SatManage. Incumbent Position How have incumbent providers responded? They allude to the fact that VNOs have to sacrifice a degree of flexibility, limiting their ability to create custom solutions for ship operator customers whose needs go beyond basic ‘connect me to the Internet’. They also point out that in an increasingly litigious society, if something goes wrong, outsourcing opens the door to a ‘pass the buck’ mentality. For now, a ship might be able to cope if its broadband connection fails, but as connectivity becomes more deeply ingrained in day-to-day operations, dependency (actual or perceived) will increase and the consequences of outages will become more serious. There is, one would imagine, less scope for a so-called ‘full service’ provider to wriggle out between the contract small print. Besides, having invested in expensive teleport infrastructure,
Kevin Tester Editor
there is more incentive to retain customers and to make sure those costs are recouped. Is there a right or wrong? Probably not. But it is worthwhile for shipowners considering VSAT to be aware of the respective advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches and to balance the potential pitfalls with cost savings. Supersize Satcoms In this respect it is worth noting that Royal Caribbean International chose a well-established player – namely, MTN Satellite Communications – for the provision of ship to shore communications on its latest and biggest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas. Every aspect of this vessel is ‘supersize’ and satcoms are no exception. On its first voyage, MTN reported that transmitted bandwidth over the vessel’s dual Cband antennas peaked at 26.2Mbps. In comparison, merchant vessel VSAT installations typically deliver between 14Mbps, although admittedly they are specified for a small crew and not for thousands of passengers. The infrastructure onboard is also of unprecedented sophistication. Enterprise grade Cisco systems are installed throughout and considerable attention has been paid to detail: passengers can hire unlocked Apple iPhones that act as portable ship guides as well as for making calls and texting fellow passengers onboard. Cruise ships like the Oasis go to demonstrate that ship designers can no longer afford to ignore IT or merely regard it as an optional extra.
Inmarsat head leaves, goes south Long time director of Inmarsatʼs maritime business, Piers Cunningham, has stepped down from the global satellite communications company in a move that sees him depart the business after nine years to join SatComms in Australia. During his nine year tenure at Inmarsat, Cunningham has raised the bar of global maritime communication and consistently delivered an impressive increase in revenue. Indeed, the latest financial results show maritime business revenue was up by 7.4%, driven by strong sales of its FleetBroadband service. Cunningham started his maritime career in sea and shore-based positions with CP Ships, initially joining Canada
Maritime on the North Atlantic container trades. In 1999 he moved into the marine electronics and communications sector with Litton Marine Systems, previously RACAL-DECCA marine. He joined Inmarsat as a business development manager in 2001 was promoted to head of maritime business in 2004 and become director of the maritime business with a team of commercial and maritime safety service managers across the globe. He has been responsible not only for the maritime operational management but also Inmarsat safety services. Cunningham oversaw the successful launch of all three FleetBroadband services ‒
FB500, FB250 and FB150. Inmarsat states all three have exceeded expectation and business objectives. FB500, debuted on the 2008-09 roundthe-world Volvo Ocean Race, FB250 its smaller sister has achieved over 8000 activations and, entry-level FB150 launched almost a year ago targeting the smaller vessels particularly in leisure sailing, fishing and smaller commercial vessels has in the last month celebrated its 1000 activations. Currently the largest fleet adoption for FleetBroadband is the multi-million dollar contract negotiated by Cunningham with AP Moller Maersk in 2008. Some 300 vessels from Maersk Supply Service and Maersk tanker fleet will have been fit-
Piers Cunningham bids farewell to Inmarsat after 9 years
ted with FleetBroadband by the end of this year. A retrofit of this scale, with one of the worldʼs most established and respected shipping company was a coup for Cunningham and Inmarsat and the strongest possible endorsement of FleetBroadband as a revolutionary service. Cunninghamʼs replacement at Inmarsat has yet to be announced.
Stratos to offer match up service for single IPs
Rickmers seeks future-proofed broadband
Stratos Global has introduced a worldwide single IP access service, dubbed Public IP Access, as the newest component of its family of services running over Inmarsat FleetBroadband. For customers requiring a static IP address for enterprise applications, Public IP Access enables the use of a single IP address that works globally. This eliminates the need to change IP addresses when travelling between geographic regions. In what Stratos states to be an industry first, customers choose one default IP address which they can then use anywhere in the world. Because this is implemented by Stratosʼ network engineers it is not necessary for end-users onboard ships to enter a username and password in the terminal to connect to the service. The company goes as far saying that ʻno terminal intervention is requiredʼ. ʻMany of our FleetBroadband customers use multiple static IP addresses as they work around the globe. Public IP Access enables these customers to keep the same IP address wherever they travel,ʼ said Stratos president Jim Parm. ʻWe worked closely with Inmarsat to develop this new service and we have made significant investments in network optimisation to enable fast, easy service implementation." A key development to introducing Public IP Access, is Stratosʼ new network Point of Presence (POP) in Hong Kong, which extends the reach of StratosNexus (Stratos' backbone IP infrastructure). This new POP is in addition to existing Stratos POP locations in Amsterdam and New York. Stratos provides the customer-managed Stratos Trench firewall solution on all three POPs, a feature that is not available from Inmarsat on the Inmarsat shared infrastructure. Each Stratos POP benefits from its own regional infrastructure with local terrestrial, Internet access and region-based IP addresses. This global network provides customers the flexibility to choose the most efficient traffic routing for their needs ‒ to achieve the lowest latency and the shortest route to their headquarters.
The Telemar Group through its German subsidiary is to provide broadband satellite communication for the entire Rickmers fleet of one hundred plus vessels. The contract encompasses satellite airtime through Telemarʼs partner Vizada until the end of 2014. Moreover, Telemar will deliver and install a customised hardware solution including Thrane & Thrane FB500 terminals as per Rickmersʼ specifications, which will bring Internet connectivity via the Inmarsat Fleet Broadband network.
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Telemar states the Rickmers project is remarkable not only in terms of figures and numbers but also for the ʻfuture-proof integrated architecture that may set the pace within the shipping industryʼ. A scalable design has been chosen that will allow Rickmers to continuously optimise and enhance to meet future requirements as well as adopt new technologies as they emerge. Rickmers is deploying broadband across its fleet
Goodwood goes for C-band Goodwood Ship Management (GSM) has deployed a VSAT service from MTN Satellite Communications (MTN) on four vessels. The Singapore-based ship manager lists global C-band coverage, a reliable network and responsive worldwide service as key factors in the selection process. GSM managing director Captain Ashok Sabnis says: ʻMTNʼs flat-rate, always-on Internet connection will achieve significant cost savings compared with payas-you-go satellite services.” MTN is initially installing Cband antennas and below-deck equipment on three ore/bulk/oil (OBO) ships and one Cape-size
bulker. The vessels are being fitted with four separate phone lines for crew calling as well as computer stations for e-mail and Internet access. In addition, the MTN VSAT will be used for all ship operations and remote management communications. The contract calls for a guaranteed minimum of continuously available bandwidth of 64 kbps with maximum bandwidth of 128 kbps when needed. MTNʼs Bradford Briggs states: ʻOur committed information rate (CIR) service plans ensure that the ship will always have access to sufficient bandwidth to meet its communication requirements.ʼ
Navmaster and e-Navigator working together PC Maritime’s Navmaster ECDIS is now fully compatible with the e-Navigator platform from UKHO. ‘We’ve completed the integration project ahead of schedule, and as a result our customers will be able to benefit from the UK Hydrographic Office’s new product as soon as it is released’, comments company marketing director, Anne Edmonds. E-Navigator is currently being put through its paces on board a number of vessels. When officially launched, Navmaster users will be able to export their existing routes to the new platform and make full use of its passage planning and chart ordering facilities.
Singapore expansion Kelvin Hughes has moved into larger premises in Singapore to cope with a growing demand for its products and services. The office, with a staff of 30, holds stock of navigational and bridge equipment, as well as paper and electronic charts. It also offers training and intensive customer support. The company first established a presence in Singapore in 1964, complementing offices in Norway, China, the Netherlands, Denmark and the USA.
Addvalue captures market share Marking a significant milestone, Addvalue Communications reports it has shipped its 1000th Wideye Skipper 150 FleetBroadband maritime satcoms terminal. The company adds it has captured a 40% market share for the entry-level broadband equipment, which runs over Inmarsatʼs satellite constellation. The 1000th unit was delivered to Nordic-IT, Addvalueʼs distribution partner in Hamburg, Germany, the company
which was responsible for installing the first FB150 in Europe. The terminal is destined for the Euro Snow, one of a fleet of 15 container, bulk carrier and roro ships operated by Global Hanseatic Shipping (GHS). Technical manager at GHS, Jochen Meyer, says the Skipper150 ‒ in combination with a new IP gateway solution, known as gate4c ‒ will take the place of the legacy Inmarsat-B technology used on the vessels to date.
Training centre opens Southampton-based ECDIS Ltd have opened a new e-Navigation Centre where they will deliver their flagship MCA accredited IMO 1.27 Model ECDIS course. The facility will also pave the way for a specialised courses catering for watchkeepers and pilots, as well as satisfy the need for ECS training in the leisure and fishing sectors.
MITE May 2010
McMurdo introduces AIS search and rescue transponders Designed for both commercial and leisure markets, the SmartFind S5 from McMurdo is designed to assist in life-raft location during search and rescue operations. It transmits a series of updating alert messages indicating its geographic position and serialised identity number to vessels in the vicinity. Once activated, the S5 transmits emergency alerts for a minimum of 96 hours. An inbuilt GPS provides highly accurate position information to assist in quick recovery of survivors. Buoyant and rugged, the
device also has a six-year non-hazardous battery. The S5 is an AIS search and rescue transmitter (SART) of the type introduced into IMOʼs GMDSS carriage requirements on 1 January this year, as an alternative locating device to existing 9GHz Radar SARTs. A major benefit of the AIS SART is that target survivor information becomes viewable using standard ships AIS equipment ‒ both the range and course to locate the
Inmarsat unveils specification for new satellite phone Inmarsat has unveiled a complete specification for its forthcoming global handheld, IsatPhone Pro, which it claims is unmatched in the satellite phone market. Focusing on the fundamentals of what users want in a satellite phone, it will offer global coverage, long battery life, robustness, reliable network connectivity, clear voice quality, ease of use, and a highly competitive price. According to Inmarsat, the IsatPhone Pro will have the longest battery life on the market, with up to 8 hours talk time and up to 100 hours on stand-by. The dust, splash and shock resistant handset has an ingress protection rating of IP54, and designed to operate in temperatures ranging from -20C to 55C. The handset can be placed on its side, with a fully-manoeuvrable antenna, allowing easy hands-free use. The Bluetooth compatible device also has an intuitive interface with a high-visibility colour screen, and a larger keypad for easy dialling in gloves. Inmarsat focused on Inmarsat also confirmed a sug- fundamental functionality in gested retail price for IsatPhone Pro is designing its new satellite US$699, though pricing promotions are phone expected to bring the end-user price to US$500-600. Retail airtime rates will be competitive at around US$1 per minute. A total of thirteen distribution partners, covering all geographic markets around the world, have now been selected to sell IsatPhone Pro. This includes the two most recently confirmed partners - Korea Telecom and RRSat. Stratos Global says it has already received advance orders for more than 1000 handsets, though not all of these are for maritime customers.
MITE May 2010
survivors will be clearly presented on the ships AIS user display. McMurdo has also introduced the Rescuer 2 SART, a 9GHz X-band radar transponder with ʻquick twistʼ action activation, which allows it to be grasped and operated with gloved or cold, wet hands. A compact design makes it The Rescuer 2 9Ghz Xband radar SART has ʻquick twistʼ action activation
ideal for packing in life-rafts or as a carry-off device. Once activated the device automatically transmits an emergency response signal when a radar signal is received from a ship or aircraft. The Rescuer 2ʼs emergency signal is then displayed on nearby shipsʼ radar enabling its position to be easily pinpointed. The signal identifies the survival craft on the radar screen by means of a stream of 12 in-line dots. When in use the Rescuer 2 will remain in standby mode for over 96 hours.
Bridge navigational watch alarm satisfies new rules Compliance with IMO regulation MSC 128(75) and the new IEC 62616 performance standards were the major design objectives of the BW-800, the latest bridge navigational watch alarm from Unisafe. With approval from DNV already signed-off and tests underway at the other major classification societies, the company claims it is on the verge of becoming the first to present a fully type-approved alarm. Regulations issued by IMOʼs Marine Safety Committee require mandatory carriage of navigational watch alarm systems to be phased in from summer next year for newbuild vessels, with existing tonnage to follow in summer 2012 for passenger ships over 3000gt
and from summer 2013 for other vessels over 500gt. The purpose of the alarms is to monitor for inactivity on the bridge, which could lead to accidents. Officers of the watch (OOWs) have to respond to the alarm at periodic intervals to indicate full alertness. Failing to do so will trigger a signal to the Master or another qualified OOW. Additionally, the alarm may provide the OOW with a means of calling for immediate assistance if required. In principle, the system should be activated whenever the shipʼs heading or track control system is engaged. OOWs have to respond to the alarm at periodic intervals to indicate full alertness
Raytheon autopilot sets course for economic operation The German electronics company Raytheon Anschütz has announced the upcoming release of their new NautoPilot 5000 adaptive autopilot series, successor of its renowned NP 2000 autopilot series, which has gained reputation through several thousand installations over the past decade. The NP 5000 is based on the same Anschütz steering algorithms, but includes new functions for economic and precise navigation such as an integrated steering performance display and a new course control operation mode. The new autopilotʼs most obvious feature is its large touch-operated graphical display which offers six different day and night modes, specified in line with the colour palettes used for radar, chart-radar and ECDIS displays. Key functions are accessible via push buttons or the touch screen to ensure operation is kept as simple as possible. The large display features an integrated heading and rudder plotter, which provides a graphical indication of heading changes and all used rudder angles. It instantaneously reflects the steering performance of the
The latest autopilot from Raytheon has a large touch-operated graphical display
autopilot following changes to parameter settings such as rudder, counter rudder and yawing. The operator benefits from simple adjustments of the autopilotʼs settings to gain optimised steering performance, which results in minimal rudder action and thus reduced fuel consumption. Another contribution to economic navigation and reduced fuel consumption is achieved by the autopilotʼs EcoMode, which takes into account current sea-state and weather. Periodical yawing movements that can be caused by roll and pitch will normally result in rudder actions with high amplitudes. As frequent rudder
actions will not compensate the heading deviation due to environmental conditions, the autopilot reduces its sensitivity to such movements. As a result, the autopilot continuously adapts to current environmental conditions without a manual change of autopilot parameters. Subsequently less rudder action is required, which leads to lower levels of speed reduction and thus less fuel consumption. The NP 5000 autopilot series features up to three possible modes of operation. Besides heading control, the new autopilot retains the proven track control mode, allowing a vessel to steer automatically along a pre-planned route from the start to the end point of the route. Track control is executed with Category C accuracy which requires environmental conditions such as wind and drift to be com-
pensated during track course changes. A new feature in the NP 5000 is ʻcourse controlʼ as a third mode of operation. When steering in this mode, the autopilot compensates for drift automatically and keeps the vessel on the defined course over ground. Compared with the common heading control mode, this leads to a more precise course keeping capability and increased safety when steering the vessel. All autopilots in the NP5000 range display track deviation and an integrated rudder angle indicator. The top of the range model also includes a high accuracy controller which has been designed for ships sailing in challenging sea areas such as archipelagos. In a move designed to improve operational safety, the NP 5000 series is available with an integrated acceleration monitor, which provides a warning if a pre-defined cross acceleration limit is exceeded. This helps to avoid damage or accident due to high acceleration stresses that might occur for example during a heading change at high speed. Raytheon states the NP 5000 range will reach the market from this autumn.
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MITE May 2010
Tuning into Ka-band While Ku-band covers the 12-18 Ghz frequency band, Kaband operates on frequencies approximately twice as high – between 26.5-40 GHz. As a result, Ka-band satcoms systems can achieve the same performance as a Ku-band service with smaller antennas. But there are disadvantages too, as Andy Frost of GE-Satcom (formerly Satlynx) explains: ‘The wavelengths are shorter and therefore more susceptible to attenuation and degradation due to atmospheric conditions, such as thick cloud and rain. Higher frequencies also mean that in order to provide the same level of power as C- or Ku-bands the beam footprints are typically smaller.’ As a general rule of thumb, Cband beams cover approximately 25-33% of the earth’s surface at a time. In contrast, Ku-band spotbeams typically cover continental size regions, while Ka-band beams are more likely to serve individual nations. Simon Watts, Chief Engineer at Hughes Europe likens the three to a torch, spotlight and laser-beam respectively. For the satellite operator, the high frequency results in more powerful spot beams that can be focused over smaller areas. This allows greater re-use of the frequency band. Consequently, more data can be channelled through the satellite, resulting in greater potential for revenue generation. And because antennas are smaller, they become cheaper and more accessible to a much larger market. This is of course music to the ears of satellite operators seeking to recover the cost of designing, building and launching a satellite in the first place. On all accounts it seems a win-win situation. It should be borne in mind that Ka-band is a relatively young technology not specifically tar8
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The satellite industry is awash with noise about Ka-band. With significant additional capacity expected to come on line in the next few years, MITE considers the impact this new frequency could have on the maritime market geted at mobile applications. The primary driver has been the direct-to-home satellite broadband market, which is rapidly expanding and filling in gaps for highspeed internet access in geographically remote areas where it is uneconomical for telecoms companies to upgrade exchanges and lay cables for DSL. We are talking here about socalled ‘Not-Spots’ in already mature markets such as rural America and Europe rather than isolated villages in Africa or South America. But what impact will Ka-band have on maritime satcoms? In the near-term, probably very little, but potential niche markets do exist. Frost makes the point that because investment in Kaband satellites is predicated on a growing retail broadband market, the maritime sector will again be playing catch-up. ‘Not many years have passed since Ku-band started to become a viable proposition. Growth has been hampered by a lack of coverage over the world’s oceans and seas. It is worth remembering that coverage is not decided at random. It is in the interests of satellite operators to constrain beams to landmasses to ensure
Wavelengths are shorter and therefore more susceptible to attenuation and degradation due to atmospheric conditions Andy Frost, GE-Satcoms
the highest power densities are available where the largest paying populations are most likely to use it. ’ In his view, it is just fortunate that sufficient Ku-band capacity stretches offshore to cover key trade routes and shipping lanes. Watts seconds this point: ‘While C-band beams covered vast swathes of the world’s oceans and Ku-band has reasonable spill over into the waters surrounding landmasses, Ka-band beams are much more focused. For this reason, available maritime coverage will be limited to national coastal waters.’ Furthermore, narrower beams mean that antenna pointing has to be more accurate. Understandably this presents considerable challenges in its deployment in rail, aviation and maritime applications. Narrower beams covering smaller areas also puts greater pressure on network hubs in terms of maintaining connections as transport leaves the coverage of one beam and enters another. Rain-fade is another issue. Ships have to navigate some of the highest rainfall areas of the world. While mitigation techniques have improved, anyone wanting to use Ka-band for mission critical applications requiring high availability would be wise to proceed with caution. All in all, it seems the odds are stacked against Ka-band as a usable frequency for maritime communications in the near to mid-term. However, the same was said about Ku-band when it was first introduced. Yet, many of the technical barriers have since been overcome, thanks to Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM), Adaptive Inroute Selection (AIS), Doppler compensation among others. Together, these technologies allow upstream and downstream channels to be continually optimised as
Luxury yachts are a potential target market for Ka-band satcoms
the mobile terminal travels through the various contours of the satellite footprint. ACM/AIS function to maintain a higher level of service availability during bad weather, and by adjusting transmission power when at edge of a beam footprint effectively push the boundaries of the usable coverage area. (Though Doppler compensation might seem overkill for low speed maritime applications, it can help maintain a link in heavy swell). ‘There is no reason why these technologies cannot be incorporated into Ka-band antennas,’ says Watts. ‘The challenges are not insurmountable – but they would entail some work.’ So, for the time being it seems Ka-band won’t be usurping the position of Inmarsat or incumbent Ku-band VSAT providers as a mainstream satcoms technology. The coverage profile obviously limits the vessel types that could utilise Ka-band. The lack of transponders means the deep-sea merchant fleet is immediately cast out of the equation. Yet, in spite of these constraints, Marlink chief executive Tore Morten Olsen believes the frequency still holds some potential. He told MITE: ‘It creates some interesting opportunities that we are keen to explore. Kaband provides significantly higher bandwidth than Ku. Therefore, if its application was
Ka-band beams are much more focused so available maritime coverage will be limited to national coastal waters Simon Watts, Hughes Europe
focused in a geographical location where coverage is available and was combined with a specialised use, then Ka-band may be more suitable than other frequencies. This applies particularly where demand for always-on bandwidth is not critical to the operation of the vessel, for example crew applications and recreational use.’ More specifically, Andreas Evans, director of Global Marine Communications, a small Cyprus-based agent of Hughes Network, suggests there could be a case for ships that stick close to shore – and in particular, luxury yachts. ‘There are around 50-60 000 yachts berthed in harbours that rarely stray more than a few miles from shore. Some of these are used as no more than floating villas or party venues situated in the heart of town. In many respects, yachts less than 100ft
Yachts less than 100ft would be an ideal target market. They would welcome the lighter and more compact antennas as well as their smaller price-tag Andreas Evans, Global Marine Communications
would be an ideal target market. They would welcome the lighter and more compact antennas as well as their smaller price-tag,’ he conjectures. C-band antennas are around 2.5m in diameter and in most cases require additional structural support to support their considerable weight. Ku-band domes are rather less bulky, varying between 0.6-1.2m diameter, while Ka-band will be 0.6m or less. But close to shore satellite is not the only option for connecting vessels to the Internet without wires. In many European ports, boats could easily pick up 3G, a public domain subscriber WiFi service, and probably WiMax too. Out of these, WiFi and WiMax are the probably the nearest competitors in terms of providing a stable high-speed connection. However WiMax is virtually unheard of in less developed regions, such as the Caribbean for example. And even if it were available, Evans contends, the backbone connection to the rest of the world would most likely be through a terrestrial satcoms station. ‘So why not transmit your data directly?’ he suggests. Another option for cost-conscious yacht owners would be Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband. The company is already heavily marketing its entry-level FB150 service in this sector. While the 150kbps throughput offered on MITE May 2010
this tariff represents a significant advance in comparison to Fleet 33 or Fleet 55 services offered by Inmarsat until just a few years ago, whether it is sufficient to deliver a rich Internet browsing experience is open to question. In conclusion, though Kaband seems destined to carve out a niche within the satcoms ecosystem, its influence on the maritime market will be limited and only really felt in coastal waters on the edge of spot beams primarily serving terrestrial users. From a purely commercial perspective, it will be the demand and subsequent revenue from countless bandwidth-hungry terrestrial broadband users that will justify the continued investment needed to provide robust Ka-band service. In contrast there is little incentive to drive investment for coverage on the open-seas, where beams will be under utilised.
MITE May 2010
Days of Ku-band are numbered, says ViaSat
Scheduled for launch in 2012, Hughesʼ Jupiter satellite will pump out 100 gigabits of data per second
VIASAT CHIEF executive Mark Dankberg takes the rather bullish view that Ka-band will supplant Kuband even in mobile applications including maritime and aviation. Like its main competitor Hughes, ViaSat has ordered a large new Kaband satellite to keep up with demand for direct-to-home satellite broadband. ViaSat-1 is scheduled for launch in February 2011, while Hughesʼ Jupiter satellite is scheduled for launch in 2012. Jupiter will pump out 100 gigabits of data per second, ten times the capacity of its current Spaceway 3 satellite Outside North America, ViaSat
has signed contracts to provide gateways and subscriber terminals for the Ka-band system under construction by satellite fleet operator Eutelsat of Paris, and for the two-satellite Yahsat programme managed by Yahsat of Abu Dhabi. Both of these systems are scheduled to be operational in 2011. The Ka-band community ViaSat hopes to create with Eutelsat, Yahsat will, according to Dankberg, lay claim to mobile-broadband applications for commercial aircraft and maritime customers ʻas these markets conclude that Ku-band cannot match Kabandʼs cost-per-bit advantageʼ. ʻUser expectations for bandwidth have outstripped the ability of Kuband satellites to economically serve the commercial aviation market. The window for commercial aviation services based on Ku-band has closed. Such services ultimately will be short-lived.ʼ He adds that over time 10-20% of ViaSat-1ʼs revenue is likely to be from military and commercial mobilebroadband customers.
Intellian debuts new commercial-grade antennas VSAT satellite antenna manufacturer Intellian has unveiled a series of new antenna designs intended to serve both merchant marine and recreational maritime markets. The v130 and v110 are targeted at the commercial market, while the smaller v60 provides an affordable broadband antenna solution for smaller vessels or space-constrained installations. Rounding out the line are the v240 and its TV antenna complement the c240 due later this year. The v240 will provide both C-band and Ku-band
VSAT communications capabilities, while the c240 is a C-band TV receive only antenna suited to dual antenna installations where uninterrupted two-way satellite communications is imperative or in single antenna installations where communications is not required. The company states that all models follow its ʻsimplicity equals reliabilityʼ design philosophy, resulting in less cabling and easier installation. For example, several interfaces are included for connecting to range of modems, routers and other network devices. Peri-
odic maintenance and belt replacement is also said to be more straightforward. Intellian designs and engineers all of its antennasʼ major RF components in-house, including such key components as the reflector, feed, low pass filter, orthogonal mode transducer (OMT) and waveguide, optimised for rough marine application. This leads to better antenna gain and enhanced cross polarisation (XPOL) isolations performance The communications systems are optimised for high signal gain and feature a highly
effective and fully automated, 3-axis stabilised antenna platform with unlimited azimuth capability that is said to deliver ʻrock solidʼ satellite access even in rough seas. The v130 and v110 sport a 1.25m and 1.05m dish, respectively. Both antennas have a wide-angle range of -15 to 120 degrees for use in extremely low and high latitude regions. The v240 and c240 antennas feature a large 2.4m diameter reflectors for superior performance in low signal strength environments and situations.
Connection sharing makes new VSAT service affordable
DSD Shipping selects broadband from KVH
Data Technology Solutions (DTS), a satcoms provider based in Louisiana, US, has launched a low-cost, integrated satellite broadband offering for the maritime market. The DTS Global Connect Solution is built on iDirectʼs next generation Evolution DVB-S2 platform and works with a 60cm Ku-band antenna. The service is offered at a wide range of flat-fee subscription plans with nearly global coverage. DTS Global Connect is designed to meet the needs of private and commercial vessel operators for affordable, easy-to-install broadband voice and data communications. The service brings several new features to the growing VSAT broadband market:
DSD Shipping of Stavanger, Norway, is the latest commercial maritime operation to take advantage of the broadband access from KVH Industries via its TracPhone V7 satcoms hardware and the mini-VSAT Broadband service package. DSD Shipping recently completed a successful trial on the Stavanger Viking and is now moving ahead with the installation of KVHʼs 60cm TracPhone V7 antenna on its nine remaining vessels. Once the installations are complete, crew members will be able to enjoy multiple voice lines along with broadband Internet. DSD Shipping decided to bring KVHʼs solution onboard in order to expand Internet use for business applications without increasing costs. ʻPreviously we were using the Inmarsat Fleet service,ʼ says Rolf Arne Herheim, technical director for DSD Shipping. ʻWe chose to switch to mini-VSAT Broadband because it is a more affordable solution and be-
Flexible flat-fee monthly rates beginning at $800 for 512 kbps without the requirement to sign a 12-month contract. Customers can also purchase the service based on a day rate. Bandwidth can be shared among multiple vessels in a fleet to economically support bandwidth intensive applications. For example, a vessel can access a fleetʼs pool of available capacity to support a video feed. Once the video feed is concluded, bandwidth can be returned to the rest of the fleet without incurring additional costs. The lightweight marine antenna can be easily installed using DTSʼ unique skid mount. The entire hardware system can be shipped to a port via overnight delivery service anywhere in the world or transported to a vessel at sea via helicopter. A remote network management system enables IT personnel to access networking equipment onboard the ship for monitoring, troubleshooting and maintenance. The new DTS Global Connect service combines VSAT performance with an economical service plan, said Rob Kilroy, vice president, Americas, iDirect. ʻThis is an important advance in the VSAT service market, meeting the needs of a wide range of customers that are ready to bring high-speed networks onboard, but require more flexible investment and installation options.ʼ
DSD Shipping will install KVHʼs TracPhone V7 antenna, shown here with modem and control unit
cause Rickmers it offers is deploying us advantages for support andits crew broadband across fleet retention.ʼ Thanks to its full compatibility with Dualog software, the TracPhone V7 solution also allows DSD Shipping to continue to benefit from their existing Inmarsat systems and service. This solution makes it easy for crew members to utilise a wide variety of applications in a cost effective manner by balancing the best features of the miniVSAT Broadband and Inmarsat services.
MITE May 2010
Teleport to Many VSAT providers serving the maritime business like to emphasise the fact they operate their own landing stations or ‘teleports’ as a differentiator over competitors who are indirectly providing connectivity through hosted facilities from a third provider. But what difference to the resulting level of service do teleports make for a prospective ship owner/operator trying to decide between multiple providers? In the case of C-band VSAT, where global coverage is accomplished by three satellites, the data from ships or offshore rigs can typically be processed with two land stations located opposite sides of the Earth, say one in Europe serving the Atlantic Ocean as far as Indian Ocean and another in Australia or the American west coast serving the Pacific Ocean. Of course, C-band services are an unpopular option in the maritime industry owing to their high usage costs and the bulky antennas that are expensive to fit onboard ship. It is for precisely these reasons that ship owners find Ku-band VSAT a much more appealing prospect: the antennas are more compact, easier to install, while service plans are priced more competitively. Their major shortcoming, however, is coverage. To address this, maritime Kuband providers have teamed up to create ‘quasi-global’ networks under what are essentially roaming agreements on other providers’ satellites. While true global coverage might score points against competitor technologies such as Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband or Iridium’s lowearth orbit constellation, it is arguable whether it is really a practical requirement. From a commercial perspective, the key is to ensure coverage over the 12
MITE May 2010
Does choosing a VSAT provider that maintains its own teleport facilities affect the quality of satcoms service experienced onboard ship? MITE investigates major sea-lanes and hence majority of deep-sea vessels in operation. To achieve this level of coverage requires approximately 12-14 different satellite beams each focused on different geographic regions. The provider then has to secure the terrestrial infrastructure for transmitting data to/from these satellites. Some of these satellites will have multiple beam footprints operating on separate transponders and individual teleports facilities may be able to handle more than one uplink, reducing the number slightly. Theoretically, if land stations could be positioned anywhere on the globe, it might be possible to reduce the number needed to a handful. But for reasons of politics and physical geography this is close to impossible. In practice, a satcoms provider looking to offer a Ku-band service to the maritime market needs access to a network of at least ten teleports. While longer-established providers often own several teleports to serve their prime geographic markets, the infrastructure is insufficient for a global provision. The choice they then face is whether to invest and build new facilities or iden-
tify partners with antennas in the right locations pointing at the right satellites and pay them to host an uplink. Financially, the latter approach tends to be more appealing. Meanwhile, some providers have deliberately set upon a business model with no owned teleports. The rationale being that if it is necessary to use hosted facilities at some point then why not eliminate the burden of owned teleports altogether. Freed from having to worry about day-to-day operation, these providers can concentrate solely on serving the needs of their customers. Providers who have invested in their own teleport networks are understandably keen to re-
As far as possible end-users want to avoid the nitty-gritty of satcoms or spending time re-pointing onboard antennas
Guy Adams, SatManage
Terrestrial infrastructure is needed for transmitting data received from satellites onward to its shore-based destination
coup their costs, and therefore offer services in numerous vertical markets, from military and governmental to aviation and surface logistics. Maritime represents just one market channel. The providers who don’t own teleports can afford to be more specific to their target market. In the maritime vertical, they are more closely attuned to the needs of shipping. And in turn, this should be reflected in terms of their internal management and processes, engineering and customer portal. That said, there probably is no right or wrong answer. Guy Adams, Vice President of Software Engineering (SatManage) at iDirect says: ‘Regardless of how the teleport infrastructure is setup, for the majority of end-users what matters is that their satcoms link works whatever the position of their vessel and that they can roam under different beams without that link breaking (or for more sophisticated users,
Commitment and longevity are keywords. A provider that has made a long-term investment in their own teleports is a safer bet than a less well-established reseller Simon Watts, Hughes Europe
without needing to be allocated a new IP address). ‘They need to know how much data is being sent up and down (and the costs incurred). As far as possible they want to avoid becoming involved with the nitty-gritty of satcoms or spending time re-pointing onboard antennas. This is where SatManage can make life a lot easier.’ SatManage is rapidly establishing itself as the de-facto standard for managing satellite networks with a suite of advanced automation and integration capabilities for use by network operation centres (NOCs). Its Location Tracker module, for example, allows NOC
staff and ship-owners alike to track vessels in real-time, with single-click access to current and historic location data, as well as various network performance metrics. External data sources including weather and satellite footprint can also be incorporated as overlays. Andy Frost, vice president of business development at GE Satcom (formely Satlynx) believes significant differences do exist between working with a ‘full-service’ satcoms provider and a distributor. He explains: ‘The value chain starts at the satellite operator and the equipment manufacturer and stretches through satellite service provision right down to the local installer/maintainer of VSAT equipment. Everyone has a clear and specialised role to play.’ Among these players, some like to expand their role in the chain. And Frost makes the point that this can be done with varying degrees of competence. ‘The MITE May 2010
MTN teleports to Spain
most effective outcome is a satellite service provider who controls teleport and the hub of operations, acting as system integrator of all components: space segment, hub, VSAT boxes and IT equipment, and install and maintain services.’ ‘Because they designed, built and operate the network, they hold all the strings to ensure the service that has been purchased is delivered according to the ship operator’s specifications. Should anything change or go wrong, there is a single accountable entity to approach rather than get a second hand story from a distributor with an arms-length relationship with their wholesaler.’ Simon Watts of Hughes Europe is broadly in agreement. ‘Longevity and commitment are keywords. A provider that has invested in the service by building their own teleports or network operating centres and who is looking at the long-term is a safer bet than depending on less well-established reseller. This is especially the case in maritime where the deployment could be over multiple vessels in a fleet and that are likely to still be in active service 5, 10 or 15 years down the line.’ Meanwhile, Andreas Evans of Global Marine Communications (an agent of Hughes based in Cyprus) adds that selecting a vertically integrated satcoms provider also leads to better customer service, thanks to the improved ‘knowledge transfer’ that can take place within a single organisation. ‘If something does go amiss, the end-user knows where to go and there is less risk of being bounced around from company to company trying to identify where the problem arose and what needs to be done to fix it,’ he says. Evans recalls the time when terrestrial telecoms were first deregulated. ‘People suddenly had a choice between a Tier-1 provider, such as the UK’s BT, which possessed a hardware infrastructure, or any number of newcomer ‘switchless resellers’ that had purchased voice min14
MITE May 2010
MTN SATELLITE Communications (MTN) has opened a new European satellite teleport in Santander, Spain in a joint venture with local company Erzia Technologies. The teleport will serve as a centralised gateway for MTNʼs VSAT communications with coverage over the Americas, Europe and Asia. It will be one of the first in the world to provide C- and Ku-band commercial service as well as secure X-band service for government customers at a single location, according to Richard Hadsall, chief technology officer, MTN. ʻThe Santander teleport will provide a significant improvement in network efficiency, reliability, and customer service augmenting our worldwide infrastructure of redundant teleports and dedicated fibre optic links,ʼ said Hadsall. ʻIt will have a fully manned 24/7 network operations centre providing European time zone coverage and local language operators.ʼ As part of the joint venture, Erzia is also establishing a service centre and spare parts depot at Santander to provide shipboard technical support and maintenance for the growing number of MTN-equipped cruise ships visiting the port. ʻSantander is becoming one of the most popular destinations on the Bay of Biscay with at least 10 cruise ships planning port visits this summer,ʼ Luis Garcia, managing director at Erzia noted. ʻIn addition to providing prompt shipboard service for these ships, we will also be able to distribute spares from our inventory quickly to cruise ports in the Mediterranean.ʼ
Marlinkʼs teleport in Eik, Norway
utes wholesale at a discounted rate from the Tier-1 provider and were reselling them – with a mark-up – back to the consumer. ‘However, running a business
on such small margins meant investment in things like customer service was severely limited. The competition between these new start-ups was harsh and many did not survive, disappearing overnight sometimes leaving the customer in the lurch.’ Competition in the maritime satcoms sector is by no means as intense as consumer terrestrial communications, but similar forces to seem to be at work. Evans believes that as a higher value product, satcoms providers have more incentive to look after their customers than a terrestrial provider serving millions of consumers. Indeed Hughes’ customer support team can quickly track data moving across their satellites down to the packet level. Referring to his own experience in the yacht market, Evans notes: ‘In fact, the NOC guys sometimes detect problems or potential problems before the customer has even noticed them. For example, we can alert a yacht owner if the amount of data being sent over the link suddenly diverges significantly from the typical usage pattern, which could result if, say, someone onboard decided they wanted to download a film, or if the oppo-
Modern consumers have grown up with a switch-it-on-and-it-will-work mentality Brent Horwitz, MTN Satellite
site happens and the antenna goes offline.’ Oslo-based Marlink operates a network of teleports in major regions throughout the world including Eik, Norway, Santa Paula, California, Southbury, Connecticut and Aussaguel, France. This terrestrial infrastructure, states the company, enables it to offer vessel operators a more extensive range of services than would otherwise be possible because it is not limited by an agreement with a thirdparty land earth station. As a result, it can respond more flexibly to customer needs, especially when these go beyond standard out-of-box connectivity. Marlink chief executive, Tore Morten Olsen, comments, ‘No matter how complex the customer requirement is, if it is technically possible, we can customise our VSAT solutions to meet the individual requirements of the vessel operator.’ Olsen adds that many of its Sealink VSAT customers require very high bandwidth and complex networks to support business critical applications. ‘We have greater control and in-depth competence of all the elements involved in running the network including ongoing development and operations. The customer not only has a single point of contact, but implementing changes to existing set-ups can be carried out extremely quickly and easily. Because we are the only supplier involved, we can take full responsibility for customer support.’ MTN Satellite Communications stresses that teleports should be regarded as only one element in the value chain when it comes to VSAT services. They believe that it is important for shipowners to take a broader
look at the total integrated infrastructure behind a VSAT network. Explains Brent Horwitz, senior vice president of MTN’s cruise and ferry business: ‘Modern consumers have grown up with a switch-it-on-and-it-will-work mentality. If you turn on your television, the picture appears on your screen, and you don’t care how it got there. When you call a number on your mobile phone, you don’t wonder how cellular networks operate. All of these marvels of modern telecommunication technology seem deceptively simple, but in fact there is an intricate enabling infrastructure behind them. Likewise with maritime VSAT networks – for many users, the network is out of sight, out of mind.’ Since 1991, when MTN pioneered the stabilised VSAT platform for commercial vessels, the company has built an unparalleled integrated infrastructure to ensure flexible and reliable broadband connectivity around the world. MTN owns its primary teleport in Holmdel, New Jersey, and recently opened a new European teleport in Santander, Spain, as a joint venture with its partner Erzia (see box). The new teleport provides enhanced coverage over Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia. Altogether, MTN has a total of eight teleports on the network, providing both carrier and geographic diversity. MTN’s primary NOC is in Mi-
MTN has a total of eight teleports on the network, providing both carrier and geographic diversity
If it is technically possible, we can customise our VSAT solutions to meet the individual requirement of the vessel operator
Tore Morten Olsen, Marlink
ramar, Florida, with a backup NOC at the Holmdel teleport. In addition, MTN maintains points of presence (POP) in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and Stavanger, Norway. The Miami POP is located at the NAP of the Americas, a robust co-location facility, designed to provide the highest levels of security and redundancy. The teleports, NOCs and POPs are interconnected by MTN’s private MPLS backbone with more than 20 000 miles of SONET/SDH-protected fibreoptic cable. The fully redundant MPLS backbone enables MTN to provide its customers with a secure Layer 3 VPN for joining together all remote vessels and land facilities. This allows completely private corporate voice and data communication between sites without traversing the Internet. In addition to the inherent security of this design, it also provides complete control over IP addressing and QoS (quality of service) allowing end-to end prioritisation of mission-critical applications as well as VoIP. The highly integrated architecture between C- and Ku-band networks enables customers to choose any combination of Cand Ku-band service with a single antenna or multiple antennas aboard ship. The dual-antenna solutions allow seamless failovers from C- to C- or C- to Ku-. Since each antenna operates independently and can track different satellites, risk of outage due to interference, blockage or equipment failure, is virtually non-existent. ‘In short’, says Horwitz, ‘the question of who owns the teleport facilities is incomplete. It’s the entirety of the network that is the key.’ MITE May 2010
Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) recently unveiled its latest maritime broadband solution, which repurposes satellite TV antennas already found on many vessels to deliver a high-speed data service. In this way, it hopes to bring the benefits of broadband to maritime companies without the heavy upfront capital investments typically needed for purpose built broadband systems. According to SingTel, customers could potentially reap savings of up to US$120 000 in infrastructure costs per vessel. The system works by using a satellite television – or TV Receive Only (TVRO) – antenna for the downloading data, while data emanating from the ship destined for shore is transmitted over Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband service. This takes advantage of the fact that quantity of data downloaded generally exceeds that uploaded many times over. In the case of web-browsing, the ratio could easily exceed 20:1. While more mixed usage brings this down to 15:1 or 10:1, the principle still holds. So the key to a successful hybrid approach is finding the most cost-effective methods of downloading and uploading respectively. For example, despite low start-up costs, carefree downloading over Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband service (on a pay-as-you-go plan) can result in large bills. Using a one-way TVRO antenna on a Ku-band satellite beam for this segment and then utilising FleetBroadband exclusively for the much smaller stream of upload traffic could significantly cut the overall cost. This approach was pioneered back in 2006 by Wired Ocean. A key feature of the Wired Ocean implementation is simultaneous TV and broadband. In fact, the company deliberately selected capacity on three of the most viewed (and costly) European satellites, which together deliver upward of a hundred channels of free-to-air and subscription chan16
MITE May 2010
Hybrid satcoms revisited SingTel says it wants to ʻbring maritime broadband to allʼ as it announces a new hybrid satcoms service that delivers Ku-band speeds with Inmarsat start-up costs ‒ but will shipowners be convinced when similar and, arguably, cheaper services are already on the market?
4th-gen box delivers improved diagnostics WIRED OCEANʼS S-Box is now in its fourth generation. The company has implemented automatic over-theair firmware upgrades to ensure all users benefit from the continual development improvements, new services and compatibility with new communications and TVRO equipment that the S-Box interfaces with. The Linux-based device incorporates its own diagnostics system that enables remote troubleshooting of communications problems experienced even on ancillary equipment (ie, the TVRO downlink receiver and service, the uplink modem and service, the shipʼs LAN and individual PC terminals). Wired Ocean plans to draw on its experience of operating a European service as a springboard to expand its future footprint to a global service covering major shipping routes.
The S-Box runs on robust Linux-based firmware
nels of news, sport, television and movies in multiple languages. This allows vessels to point their TVROs to just one satellite and receive TV and use broadband simultaneously. SingTel uses the ST-1 satellite, which according to data available on Lyngsat.com, only broadcasts a few Taiwanese channels, which would limit its appeal to nonMandarin speaking crew. However, because of its target audience in the Asian hemisphere this might not be a problem. To access other channels, the TVRO would have to be pointed at other satellites, thereby cutting off broadband access. The SingTel service boasts a 2Mbps all-you-can-eat downlink for US$1999/month. Wired Ocean subscriptions, also all-youcan-eat, start from $300/month, and its 0.5Mbps top downlink speed is significantly lower than SingTel’s offering. However, Victor Barendse, managing director of Wired Ocean, points out that since the introduction of FleetBroadband, usage costs and latency have been the main issues for shipowners rather than outright speed. The downlink speed is only one part of the equation that determines how responsive a marine broadband service is. In practical terms it is the latency of the uplink service rather than the outright downlink speed that is the limiting factor in the performance of hybrid systems. ‘The Wired Ocean service bundles a range of performance enhancements at the land station and in the onboard equipment – the S-Box – that reduce the signaling and handshaking over Inmarsat (and other IP based links)
and compress and cache data to reduce the cost of the uplink as well as increase the responsiveness of the Internet connection, which ultimately determines the end-users’ experience.’ In both cases, the downlink cost is fixed, but uplink charges varies with usage, though it is worth noting SingTel bundles 125Mb of FleetBroadband airtime in its monthly plan. Bill Chang, SingTel’s executive vice president, comments: ‘In the past, the cost of satellite infrastructure prevented many maritime companies from equipping their ships with high-speed broadband services. Our aim is to eliminate those costs and make maritime broadband more afford-
Hybrid systems use a TVRO antenna for a fat pipe downlink and another service for a narrow band uplink
Our aim is to eliminate infrastructural costs and make maritime broadband more affordable and accessible than ever before Bill Chang, SingTel
able and accessible than ever before. Companies with limited resources can now leverage IT to improve productivity, simplify operations and enhance crew welfare.’ In addition to the crew welfare services of web-browsing, email, video conferencing and voice calls that always-on broadband internet access can enable, seafarers can also access SingTel’s recently launched suite of entertainment products. Highlights include Karaoke-On-Demand, which ‘allows seafarers to show off their vocal abilities with the same video and sound quality as land-based karaoke systems’ and a video-on-demand service.
Alaskan ferries find private solution to going online The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) called on Radio Holland to provide a fleet-wide VSAT communications system that would work in northern latitudes. The 11 vessel fleet is operated by the State of Alaska and transports passengers and vehicles to 34 locations along the Alaska coastline and along a 1000 mile stretch of the Aleutian Chain to the Bering Sea. The route goes through the Inside Passage and passes through islands with high mountains and steep fjords. Radio Holland USA and Radio Holland Connect engineered a private VSAT network, which provides dedicated bandwidth that is allocated to and exclusively shared by the AMHS vessels. Though this private network – which piggybacks on Radio Holland’s VSAT Connector network – is the most cost effective method to buying bandwidth in bulk, the company told MITE it required some sophisticated routeing technology to ensure customer service levels are achieved around the clock. The flexibility of a private network means that satcoms equip-
The 500passenger Malaspina is one of 11 vessels that will enjoy increased connectivity
ment on each vessel can be configured to meet specific requirements with respect to Committed Information Rate (CIR), Maximum Information Rate (MIR), prioritisation and overall Quality of Service, among others. ‘This will be a another major success story for the team of Radio Holland coming on the heels of our successfully deployed 55 vessel private network set up for multiple shipping companies operating along the St. Lawrence Seaway’, commented Jack Haynie,
president of the company’s US operation. In addition to the equipment that will be provided and the airtime supplied, Radio Holland will support the overall effort of the AMHS IT services department as they strive for near 100% coverage for data and voice services within the demanding vessel footprint for the ferry routes. The vessels will all eventually have public phone systems, ATMs, and WiFi services for their passengers.
MITE May 2010
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â€œWe were particularly impressed with the TracPhone V7â€™s small size and affordable airtime. We are excited to have a new solution for day-to-day shipboard satellite communications that is both affordable and easy to install alongside our existing Inmarsat and GSM systems. This helps to keep our business operations efficient, and allows the crew to use the services to stay in touch with their loved ones. This is especially important, because in our industry retaining quality crew and officers is essential.â€? - Runar Gaarder, ICT Manager for Mowinckel Ship Management
Find out how KVH TracPhone V7 can change your business at:
www.kvh.com/tanker +6(ĂĽ%UROPEĂĽ!3ĂĽĂĽsĂĽĂĽ+OKKEDALĂĽ)NDUSTRIPARKĂĽ"ĂĽĂĽsĂĽĂĽĂĽĂĽ+OKKEDALĂĽĂĽsĂĽĂĽ$ENMARKĂĽĂĽ +6( %UROPE !3 ĂĽs ĂĽ+OKKEDAL )NDUSTRIPARKĂĽ" ĂĽs ĂĽ ĂĽ+OKKEDAL ĂĽs ĂĽ$ENMARK ĂĽ 4EL 4ELĂĽĂĽĂĽĂĽĂĽĂĽsĂĽĂĽ&AXĂĽĂĽĂĽĂĽĂĽĂĽsĂĽĂĽ% MAILĂĽINFO ĂĽĂĽ ĂĽsĂĽĂĽ&AX ĂĽĂĽĂĽ ĂĽsĂĽĂĽ% MAILĂĽINFO KVHDK ÂŠ2010 KVH Industries, Induustries, Inc. KVH, TracPhone, and the unique light-colored light-colored dome with dark contrasting baseplate are registeredd trademarks of KVH Industries, Inc. 10_KE_V7miniVSA 10_KE_V7miniVSAT_Comm_TankerOperator AT_Comm_TankerOperator â€œWhat Broadband at seaa was meant to beâ€? and â€œmini-VSAT Broadbandâ€? are service serrvice marks of KVH Industries, Inc. ArcLight is a registered trademark of ViaSat, Inc.; all other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. Patents Pending. t
Ramping up security Less than two years after bringing a ‘shipfriendly’ anti-virus system to market, Port-IT is now on the verge of officially launching a new antimalware product. MITE talked to the Rotterdam-based company’s Youri Hart to find out how it works and, more importantly, why it is needed. In the course of cleaning shipboard PCs, Port-IT technicians noticed that invariably more than one software package was needed to restore the machines to a pristine state. In other words, conventional antivirus software alone was proving inadequate. ‘We realised that many malicious programs were not being flagged up as Potential Unwanted Applications (PUAs) by the installed anti-virus,’ says Hart. However, as Hart explains, this does not come down to an inherent failing in the anti-virus software. ‘Though these malicious programs can lead to unwanted outbound connections etc, they do not tick enough boxes according to the anti-virus design criteria to be flagged up as a PUA. So, how does malware differ from a traditional virus? The term malware is sometimes mistakenly used to describe all malicious programs, including viruses. However a distinction can be made: Malware is software that interferes with normal computer functions or sends personal data about the user to unauthorised parties, typically via an Internet connection. Viruses are segments of selfreplicating code planted illegally in a computer program, often to damage or shut down a system or network. Owing to this difference more then one software package
Trojan programs that secretly send user data and passwords back to their creators are a security threat with financial implications
is needed to completely protect a PC. For the development team at Port-IT who had witnessed firsthand the trouble caused by malware, complementing their anti-virus solution with an antimalware application was a logical step in upping the level of onboard PC security, The challenge for Port-IT however was finding an existing vendor of anti-malware products that was happy to adapt their technology to make it fit for the maritime market. It eventually came across a willing partner by the name of Malware Bytes. In addition to high detection and removal performance, the update mechanism also needed to be considered. Unlike conventional ‘terrestrial’ installations, where high-speed always-on broadband can be assumed, on most vessels email is still very much the only guaranteed electronic connection to the outside world. For this reason, the product had to be ‘marinised’ to work with email-based updating. Another factor was low runtime resources because most PCs found on vessels are comparatively old models. ‘When our engineers were testing the system, our customers were amazed by the number of malware infections
The mindset seems to be that if a computer is not connected to a network, then it is safe from infection Youri Hart, Port-IT
removed – even when the machine in question was already protected by a fully updated antivirus product,’ explains Youri Hart. Though the new anti-malware product is designed to work in harmony with Port-IT’s pioneering anti-virus product, Hart says the company is facing an uphill battle convincing shipowners any kind of protection is necessary. ‘The mindset seems to be that if a computer is not connected to a network, then it is safe from infection. However, they forget that CD, DVD or USB devices can also act as infection vectors. The key generators or cracks used to illegally unlock pirated software are another common source.’ In addition to the performance and efficiency gains resulting from running a ‘clean’ machine, there is also a potential financial benefit. ‘Most malware exists to secretly send user data back to its creator. This, of course, has to be done over the Internet. For a ship running on a pay-as-you-go satcoms service, this will result in extra airtime charges, which after the event are hard to trace to their source.’ Hart argues that while most airtime providers offer some sort of shore-side firewall that is capable of preventing malware-initiated calls home from reaching their final destination, this blocking is typically done once the call has reached shore, ie, after being sent across the satlink and incurring a charge. ‘For this reason, stopping the infection directly onboard can bring about a considerable cost saving,’ he concludes. Port-IT will be offering its anti-malware solution as a standalone service for ships that already have anti-virus or bundled with its own anti-virus software. MITE May 2010
CRUISE SHIP FOCUS
Digital technologies lift allure of the Oasis With a length of 360m and weighing in at 225,000gt Oasis of the Seas currently stands as the world’s largest cruise ship. Built at the STX Europe yard in Turku, Finland, the vessel can carry up to 5400 passengers with a complement of 2000 crew and, as can be expected, the satcoms requirements and digital infrastructure presented special challenges. ‘The communications suite is a critical component for operating the ship and its passenger services,’ commented Max Schmidt, vice president of information technology, Royal Caribbean International (RCI). The company eventually chose to partner with MTN Satellite Communications to find a solution. ‘We worked closely with MTN’s engineering teams to develop a system that would be capable of supporting the unprecedented requirements of a ship this large and complex, with more than 2700 passenger cabins, dozens of dining and entertainment facilities and seven distinctly designed themed zones.’ ‘For the inaugural voyage of Oasis, MTN supplied the highest bandwidth ever used on a single ship in the history of the cruise industry,’ said Brent Horwitz, senior vice president of MTN. ‘The total bandwidth exceeded 26.6 Mbps, including 10 Mbps for Internet, 3 Mbps for voice and corporate data, 9 Mbps for an ABC live TV broadcast, 2 Mbps for video streaming, 1.5 Mbps for cellular phone service and 1 Mbps for radio broadcasts and phones.’ 20
MITE May 2010
MITE takes a look behind the scenes at the scale and diversity of IT and communication systems that together ensure passengers holidaying on the Oasis of the Seas have an enjoyable ‒ and stress-free ‒ experience
MTN installed a communications system that uses two separate 2.4m stabilised C-band satellite antennas, which can simultaneously track two different satellites on MTN’s global Cband network, with automatic beam switching (ABS) to eliminate outages from satellite blockage, according to Horwitz. ‘When crossing the Atlantic to its home port in Fort Lauderdale, the ship’s dual ABS-enabled antennas, supported by MTN’s shore network infrastructure, allow the ship to transition seamlessly from one satellite footprint to another with no disruption of service,’ he said. The MTN system provides an extensive range of voice and data services. For mobile phone users, MTN provides full cellular coverage onboard via Wireless Maritime Services (WMS), a joint
A control room being fitted out at the STX Europe yard in Finland
venture between MTN and AT&T Mobility. The WMS service enables mobile phones, and smartphone devices such as BlackBerries and Apple iPhones to continue to operate while the ship is at sea, by relaying the voice and data traffic though the MTN satellite network. The onboard telephony system is designed to support over 40 simultaneous satellite phone calls through state-of-the-art Cisco VoIP gateways, allowing guests and crew to make calls directly from their cabin phones. Cisco infrastructure is by no means limited to telephony and is in evidence throughout the vessel. The IT giant worked closely with RCI to create a fully networked environment that enables passengers to stay connected and enjoy directly and indirectly the latest in mobile and digital media technologies. The companies were also conscientious of building a flexible and scalable architecture so that new amenities and services may be added throughout the ship’s lifetime. Cisco’s unified wireless network offers a number of services to passengers and staff alike. Wireless point-of-sale devices let purchases made by passengers to be processed anywhere on the ship, while VoIP wireless phones facilitate more efficient delivery of passenger services throughout the vessel thanks to swifter response times by staff. Passengers can hire their own wireless phone on the ship to chat with other passengers, or keep up-to-date with daily events. These devices can also act as real-time location tracking tools, which are expected to be popular with passengers travel-
CRUISE SHIP FOCUS
Total bandwidth on the 225 000grt Oasis of the Seas exceeds 26.6 Mbps, delivered via two C-band satlinks
More TV choice out at sea ling as a family. In total, the ship has more than 900 Cisco wireless access points that incorporate the company’s so-called ‘adaptive security appliance’, which also provides firewalling and virtual private network connectivity. These work in concert with the broadband Internet connectivity piped in from MTN’s satcoms services. Entertainment and informational content is delivered by digital media systems powered by the Cisco network. About 300 interactive digital signs run on the network and all cabins are equipped with IP-based televisions. The technical design, engineering and audiovisual system integration for more than 50 ‘venues’ was delivered by Funa. The company rolled out a range of interactive entertainment, display and communications technologies in creating many of the theatres, restaurants, clubs, entertainment and public spaces, as well as the crew recreation and support areas, within the seven themed zones of the 16deck vessel. Oasis was a major project for Funa from a management and logistics viewpoint not only in
the sheer size and number of venues, but also having to work within the unique requirements of international cruise ship construction. Various entities came into play: Funa Oy in Finland handled the detailed design and installation, the German branch of the company was responsible for commissioning and the US arm for further design, purchasing and logistics. Doug Ellis, senior vice president and program director for Finland operations, elaborates: ‘Oasis of the Seas is a mixed-use hotel and entertainment resort complex – similar in scope to building a Universal CityWalk or a Downtown Disney – but designed and built to more demanding constraints and more robust specifications because of tighter safety regulations and a wide array of special considerations you don’t have in land construction. ‘Having staff and infrastructure in place in Turku was a major factor in our ability to complete this project on time and on budget. Our fabrication workshop and engineering design office is only minutes from the shipyard and our local staff of 15 skilled technicians and designers formed the core of our
MTN SATELLITE Communications (MTN) has launched what is claimed to be the industryʼs first TV broadcast service delivering programming from six major U.S. and international television networks to cruise ship passengers anywhere on the high seas. With MTN Worldwide TV, passengers can tune in to BBC World News, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, Sky News and Sky Sports News in their cabins while at sea or in port, with no interruption. Additional programming packages, including entertainment and sports channels, are to be added in the near future. MTN states the service has been thoroughly field tested, and more than 40 ships with a total of over 32 000 cabins are already under contract for the unique broadcast service. Brent Horwitz, senior vice president, MTN cruise and ferry business, says: ʻCruise lines are continuously striving to respond to passenger suggestions and we have the technology to deliver services that go towards delivering that experience.ʼ Taking advantage of MTNʼs global satellite network, the new service uses three overlapping satellite beams that integrate seamlessly with the cruise shipsʼ existing TVRO antennas and onboard video distribution systems. MTN states this enables straightforward installation.
multinational project team led by project manager Derek Warner from Funa’s USA office.’ Funa’s innovative technical MITE May 2010
CRUISE SHIP FOCUS
Onboard revenue stream maximised
design applied to the vessel’s safety backbone as well. The extensive digital signage network – encompassing many of the entertainment and information screens – can be quickly deployed to carry emergency messages and instructions throughout the ship. The company also worked with RCI to integrate an automated muster demonstration system, where passengers are instructed on what to do in the event of an emergency. From their cabins, passengers can view current and forthcoming activities, shows, and other dining and entertainment options thanks to an advanced interactive high-definition TV system from Allin Interactive. The system provides a critical distribution channel for shore excursion and onboard show tickets, as well as a real-time 22
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Passenger information screens form part of the digital signage network
INCREASING THE revenue yield from passengers is a major objective of all cruise companies. However, the problem isnʼt limited to selecting the right range of products and services to entice guests to part with their cash ‒ or more likely these days, a pre-loaded payment card. There is also the matter of managing thousands of transactions and efficient stock control. Fidelio Cruiseʼs retail point-ofsale (POS) system has been specially designed to support shipboard retail operations. The new software is designed with flexibility in mind, and is fully integrated with purchasing and inventory systems, allowing automatic stock deduction and full inventory monitoring in real time, by both ship- and shore-based personnel. The POS software is fully integrated with Fidelioʼs Ship Property Management System (SPMS) and therefore automatically monitors all financial transactions as they happen, recording the details of cruise guestsʼ purchases in the cash-free environment on board. The system simplifies the management of on-board retail activities, facilitates the fine-tuning of inventories and reduces the risk of human error. It also possesses a rules-based engine for calculating discounts
and special offers. A number of different promotional packages can be set up, including single-item discounts, volume-based promotions, package discounts, two-for-one promotions and sales group discount promotions. The application is based on a range of touch screens, each of which can be customised by shore-based managers. Points of sale on different ships within a fleet can be assigned unique screens tailored to suit each individual vesselʼs operation. Shoreside personnel can configure hardware and set up tax handling systems. They can also manage events and promotions. All transaction data is available ashore at any time, providing a new and highly accurate management tool for head office staff. In conjunction with Fidelioʼs Materials Management System (MMS) for procurement and inventory management, managers ashore can establish the relevant criteria for a specific product available at retail outlets on board ship. This includes a product description, price, barcode, promotion and/or discount. All data is then transferred to the respective ships via a socalled ʻintegrated data exchange applicationʼ transport mechanism eliminating the risk of human error and reduc-ing the workload for shipboard personnel.
link to ticket inventories. This allows service desks to process interactive reservations in a much more coordinated fashion. John Troutwine, director of business development at Allin Interactive, comments that, ‘The DigiHD system on Oasis of the Seas boasts 25 different modules. In fact Royal Caribbean extended our base functionality to include bespoke modules for show and event ticketing, restaurant walk-up status, gratuities ex-
press payment and personal calendars.’ Allin has recently unveiled a new gambling module – dubbed ‘DigiCasino’ – that is designed to extend the casino into passengers’ cabins by offering popular games such as Slots and Video Poker. ‘Our goal with DigiCasino is to work with our cruise line partners to satisfy their passengers’ desire for incremental play time,’ said Brian Blair, the company’s managing director. ‘We believe
CRUISE SHIP FOCUS
that providing easily-accessible in-room gaming will drive additional revenue.’ The DigiCasino application, accessed through the in-cabin television, includes an ‘interactive cashier’ that enables guests to purchase and redeem gaming credits that can then be used for interactive play. The application already includes multi-denomination 9-payline Slots and Video Poker, and additional games are currently under development for release later in 2010. ‘An additional benefit of DigiCasino is that it allows new players to become comfortable with these popular games,’ stated director of development Eric Immerman. ‘As a result, we expect these new players to be more likely to visit the ship’s live casino.’ Christopher Vlassopulos, entertainment technology and technical direction for RCI sums up: ‘Oasis of the Seas has most certainly raised the bar for cruise ships – but we believe this visionary project will also significantly influence the entire resort and themed entertainment industry.’ Meanwhile critical navigation, maneuvering and automation functions have been fulfilled with control systems
from Kongsberg Maritime. With six Wärtsila diesel electric engines delivering close to 100MW of power to four large 5MW bow thrusters and three 20MW azipods supplied by ABB Marine, Oasis has a unique and powerful propulsion system. The challenge of controlling all of that power from the bridge, in order to safely and efficiently move the 65m tall, 360m long, 47m wide vessel fell to the Norwegian firm, when it was contracted to supply the propulsion control system and dynamic positioning, in addition to power management, machinery automation and HVAC automation systems. With such a complex scope of supply, it was vital that Kongsberg Maritime’s designers and engineers worked closely with RCI, throughout every stage of the project. Anders Aasen, RCI’s Associate Vice President, Marine Technical Services, observes that over the past decade, shipyards have embraced an outsourcing production model. ‘But the increased size and complexity of the vessels we build demands close cooperation.’ Captain Bill Wright, Senior Vice President of RCI, and ship captain believes that many dif-
Keeping queues at restaurants and other amenities to a minimum poses a significant logistical challenge
Royal Connect devices are basically unlocked Apple iPhones that allow passengers to text and call each other while on the ship
ferent components came together to make the system meet RCI’s requirements for such a large vessel: ‘Oasis has about 15 000m2 of sail area, so manoeuvring the vessel in and out of small or busy ports in challenging wind and sea conditions requires a powerful and dynamic propulsion control system.’ Captain Wright’s influence also extended to fine-tuning the Kongsberg DP system by suggesting some software refinements to ensure the redundant DP system was optimised for the Oasis. ‘There were some functions we didn’t need and others we wanted, and with Kongsberg’s help, we ended up with a system which meets our requirements. In fact, there are elements to the DP system aboard the Oasis which I am confident would be of interest to the offshore industry.’ In addition to customising the DP software and bridge control systems, RCI wanted widescreen monitors, which allows more information to be presented on screen for bridge officers. Kongsberg states the fruit of this collaboration will be now marketed to other customers. The collaboration between Kongsberg Maritime and RCI continues apace with the installation of a similar ‘Cruise Control’ system aboard her sister ship and second of the Genesisclass, Allure of the Seas, which is due to sail in November 2010 after completion at the STX yard in Turku. MITE May 2010
ECDIS takes its first steps on to the web Swedish firm Adveto has become the first vendor of ECDIS consoles to gain type-approval for built-in Internet connectivity for the purpose of ordering and downloading charts – specifically from Primar through its ECDIS Online service. While Adveto may be the first to gain approval for an external network connection, Primar expects that as the availability of bandwidth grows it won’t be long before other manufacturers follow suit. Until now there has been considerable resistance to opening up ecdis consoles – which despite their exterior appearance are underneath conventional PCs running on Windows – to the outside world because of the security risks and in particular the danger posed by viruses or other malware disrupting the ECDIS kernel and consequently ship safety. While generally agreeing with this perspective, Primar believes the time is now right to allow limited connectivity. Says a spokesman: ‘It is important not to confuse the Internet with the worldwide web. Strictly speaking the Internet refers to the entire network infrastructure over which various data can be transmitted in various protocols – somewhat similar to the channels on a traditional analogue TV. The worldwide web – the information sent to and from your browser – is transferred on just one of those protocols, known as http.’ The majority of risk vectors – such as viruses and other malware – find their way on to PCs over this protocol, so blocking it 24
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Because of their role in safe navigation, ECDIS consoles have to date been deliberately quarantined from onboard networks, so the arrival of a netenabled system from Adveto heralds a significant change
and using a different one specifically for charts already significantly reduces the probability of infection. Additional protection is achieved by ensuring all chart data is encrypted, thereby disguising the data and minimising the risk of tampering while in transit. ESIG has been fully tested and approved by DNV and involves multiple firewalls and encrypted communication – restricted to a clear, pre-defined exchange of messages. The charts themselves are of course pre-encrypted by Primar according to the International Hydrographic Office’s (IHO) S63 data protection standard, which also requires the national hydrographic office that produced the chart to authenticate it with a digital signature. An always-on connection – were it to become the norm
The ESIG firewall device can securely pipe the chart data into the ECDIS
rather than the exception – would open the door to a myriad of new applications. Background chart updates have already been mentioned. High density weather and ice forecasts are another possibility. This data is already widely available and is of real-time interest to the navigator, says Primar. Going forward, the data transfer need not be one-way: the console could send navigational data to shore-based systems, reducing their reliance on AIS. A direct connection will almost certainly be a pre-requisite if the concept of ‘e-navigation’ is ever to become a reality. So far, Primar has concentrated on using the direct connection to simplify the process of delivering and applying corrections to chart data, together with providing a single-click route to chart acquisition. Electronic charts may have successfully done away with officer’s spending hour upon hour performing manual corrections on paper charts, but there is still the matter of loading corrections downloaded to a PC wired to the ship’s satcoms system and from there the wider Internet. Adveto’s Magnus Karlsson comments: ‘We have demonstrated to the satisfaction of DNV that Primar’s online distribution service in conjunction with our ESIG firewall can pipe the chart data into the ECDIS in a secure way.’ Though Karlsson was reluctant to divulge many details on their implementation of ESIG, he did reveal it was necessary to combine hardware and software to achieve the intended result of safeguarding the connection. With the present Primar Online service and our ESIG and
ECDIS, an officer can plan a route and set the so-called ‘uncertainty’ margin in nautical miles around the route, chose the license period (3, 6 or 12 months) and then request the chart cells covering the route. The system will display the numbers of chart cells needed and a price. If this is acceptable, the officer can click to start the download. This will proceed as a background task so that in the meantime he can continue using the ECDIS for navigation in the normal way. An option has also been put into place for automatic updates. ‘The system will check to see if any updates or corrections are needed for charts already held onboard. If they are, these will be downloaded whenever a connection is initiated to the server – normally when ordering new charts.’ Shortly before going to press, MITE received news from
Charts ordered through Primar Online will be downloaded in the background
Transas that it too has gained approval for equipping its ECDIS workstations with a direct Internet connection. Closely following on the heels of Adveto, the DNV-certified Transas Firewall and Antivirus Protection (TFAP) system filters data received from the outside world before forwarding it to the bridge. Transas states the IEC 60945 compliant hardware component, which houses a firewall and antivirus software blocks unauthorised access to the network and delivers unparalleled protection against external cyber-attacks. A dual ECDIS installation with online connection via TFAP has already been fitted on two vessels belonging to Five Star Shipping. The bridge teams on both vessels have switched to paperless navigation, and receive chart updates via broadband connection directly to the ECDIS workstation.
Know where you’re going
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MITE May 2010
Keeping up-to-date with the charts ‘Although the vast majority of ships do carry the correct charts, we sometimes get requests for a new or updated set of charts after a ship has already sailed into the area concerned,’ says Nigel Mellors, an ex-navigator now working for chart supplier Kelvin Hughes. In the current economic climate, more ships than ever are being switched onto new routes or adding new ports to their current routes at short notice, so the need for quick delivery of new and upto-date charts is paramount. Mellors was commenting on reports by a leading P&I Club citing out-of-date or missing navigational charts as contributory factors in two accidents. In one incident, a ship had unwittingly laid anchor on a submarine telecommunications cable it did not know was there. The first assumption was that, if the anchor had contacted the cable, then it must have been be-
Out of date navigational charts have been identified as a significant contributory factor in a number of maritime incidents, but even the most conscientious of navigators can be caught out if hydrographic offices are unable to carry out periodic surveys cause it was dragging and the ship had not been able to recover the anchor in due time. However the Club-appointed surveyor quickly established that the ship had, in fact, anchored directly over the cable but that the bridge team has been completely unaware of the hazard beneath them. The London P&I Club said: ‘The ship surveyor identified that the ship had used an old edition of the chart, which predated the laying of the cable. Apparently, on preparing the passage plan, the second officer had not checked that he had the current
The update process is key to both safe and legal navigation and will be under intense scrutiny as the industry transitions to electronic charts
MITE May 2010
edition of the chart.’ In the second case, the investigation into the circumstances in which a ship suffered damage as it struck a hazardous wreck confirmed that the current edition of the chart was in use but that it had not been properly corrected. A chart correction showing the wreck had been issued some three years previously. ‘This kind of incident does not have to happen,’ says Mellors. He explains that if ship owners and managers want to ensure that the crews always have up-to-date charts, systems exist for making this the case. Conveniently, Kelvin Hughes offers such a system in the form of its Outfit Management Service (OMS). While the technology may have moved along dramatically since the company first devised the concept some 50 years ago, the fundamental principle remains the same. On behalf of contracted owners, Kelvin Hughes monitors new editions and updates of the charts and publications carried by each ship and forwards these on a regular basis to the each vessel, thereby keeping the outfit up-todate and legal. ‘Using our OMS means that the crew does not have to remember to ask for up-to-date charts because they are sent automatically, and because they are sent regularly, a culture is developed on the bridge of continually implementing the updates,’ says Mellors. The update process is key to both safe and legal navigation and remains just as vital as the industry moves towards the mandatory carriage of electronic charts for many vessel categories. In the 1990s, the Kelvin Hughes was an early pioneer in the electronic distribution of chart updates. This led
to the creation of ChartCo, a subsidiary set up to deliver digital corrections and tracings directly to ships via satellite broadcast. ChartCo continues to develop its services and last October announced it was able to deliver updates to the UKHO’s Admirality Vector Chart Service (AVCS) cells across both its Broadcast and Select delivery services. The AVCS service will help complete an already comprehensive range of electronic chart update services, currently available to ENC and raster chart users. Steve Mariner, ChartCo manager said: ‘We have watched the launch of AVCS and the subsequent growth of subscribers with great interest. In the last few months it has become very apparent from our customer base that an update service through ChartCo was urgently required. ‘With a timetable set for compulsory carriage of ECDIS, all vessels must consider how to implement a suitable policy that addresses both electronic and paper products for the bridge. With the launch of a service for AVCS users, ChartCo is again at the forefront in supplying update services to ship owners.’ Michael Bergmann, director of maritime at Jeppesen, thinks the blame does not lay entirely with ship operators – though they are the ones who face the biggest consequences. ‘A fair number of charts available and in use are based on old and outdated surveys. While hydrographic offices (HO) are working hard to improve the situation, it is simply impossible to get most up to date surveys due to financial and time limitations.’ The update frequency is not in all cases at an appropriate level. ‘The production process in HOs results in a lag. Subsequent delays are incurred in preparing the finished charts for distribution and then for them to reach the ships,’ he explains. ‘Looking at the International Hydrographic Office’s (IHO) world chart catalogue one can see that there are large areas that are simply not surveyed. As such there is no reliable data available for car-
Navigators need an ECDIS mindset
Dr Andy Norris: ʻECDIS provides the means to improve navigational safety but this is not achieved just by the completion of a short courseʼ
Technology will be of very little benefit in enhancing navigational safety if the watchkeeping officer is not fully trained and properly qualified in its use. Research carried out by the Nautical Institute reveals that most mariners feel that more effective training is needed. To address this, the organisation has published a new best practice guide: ECDIS and Positioning Authored by Dr Andy Norris and aimed at serving officers as well as shipowners, operators, managers and training institutions, the second volume of Integrated Bridge Systems, helps paper chart-taught officers to make ECDIS work for them. It also helps new entrants to the industry, who may be more familiar with Google Earth, to understand how to use the system within accepted navigational principles. Dr Norris said: ‘If you have little or no knowledge of electronic charts, ECDIS and Positioning is a must-read. If you have some knowledge, the book will improve your understanding and approach to the use of electronic charts. If you have good knowledge, the book’s approach will make you think a little harder as to how ECDIS can improve standards of navigation.’ He added: ‘Users need to develop an ECDIS mindset. Switching from paper charts to electronic systems requires a ‘major adjustment’ in the approach needed to ensure safe nav-
tographers. This leads to either unreliable charts or to no charts in required scale bands,’ he adds, noting that while this is mostly the case in less frequently sailed areas, there are still ships there, particularly cruise liners sailing in remote areas. Bergmann also highlights issues with the datum code. While the general desire is to have WGS84 datum code charts available, older charts may not meet
igation. Once mastered, ECDIS provides the means to improve navigational safety but this is not achieved just by the completion of a short course. The skills have to be developed and honed in the context of the knowledge gained at the course and other sources of guidance.’ At a seminar to launch the book, Nautical Institute President Captain Richard Coates FNI expressed concern about the ‘inadequacy’ of current ECDIS training. ‘Despite the use of satellite systems for positioning and the imminent mandation of electronic charts in 2012, there are few resources available for the mariner concerning the practical use of these technologies,’ he said. ‘Many are grappling with the problems of using electronic charts and ECDIS after being trained on paper charts.’ Capt Nick Nash FNI – a serving Master from Princess Cruises, said: ‘Mariners need to have in-depth training on this new equipment and fully understand its limitations. Dr Norris’s book goes a long way to help achieve this. It is a well timed, needed and useful book which fully supports the Nautical Institute’s view that the IMO model course 1.27 is too shallow – particularly as some training establishments have squeezed the 40-hour course into three days!’ * ECDIS and Positioning by Dr Andy Norris CNI, ISBN: 978 1 906915 11 7, price £40, is available from The Nautical Institute www.nautinst.org
this aim. ‘If a mariner is lucky, the non-WGS84 chart is of a known datum code and he can use conversion rules. But in other areas there may be charts with an unknown datum code.’ ‘An experienced mariner,’ he concludes, ‘should know he cannot always trust charts at face value, be they electronic or paper versions. He needs to treat the information with a necessary degree of caution.’ MITE May 2010
Bringing maintenance to (virtual) life In the past, maintenance manuals were cherished for providing engineers all they needed to know – and more besides – to keep machinery up and running or how to fix and rebuild it in case of failure. However, in recent times, they have gained a reputation for poorly written, or frequently poorly translated, text and confusing diagrams. On ships, this has been compounded by sheer quantity of manuals required on board and the growth of multinational crews with only a limited grasp of English. But text-based manuals might soon be considered no more than a quaint relic of a bygone era – if a new technology known as Augmented Reality (AR) takes hold and reaches the mainstream. As the name suggests, the concept of AR is to take a real-time view of the real-world and ‘augment’ it with a superimposed layer of software or network-provided information. Early novelty implementa-
MITE May 2010
The emergence of ʻaugmented realityʼ could one day see printed maintenance manuals replaced with an eye-visor wirelessly connected to a wearable computer tions of AR are already available for mobile phones: the user holds and moves the handset around, much like preparing a shot in a digital camera. Then based on GPS and compass orientation, the phone displays popup bubbles of information about what the user is viewing. Research on more sophisticated implementations is already underway for industry applications. Take for example, the Augmented Reality for Maintenance and Repair (ARMAR) project headed by Steve Feiner and Steve Henderson at Colombia An engineer wearing a prototype augmented reality visor completing a task
The visor overlays information on the userʼs field of view
University. ARMAR explores the use of AR to aid the execution of procedural tasks in maintenance and repair. The principal objective is to determine how real time computer graphics, overlaid on and registered with the actual repaired equipment, can improve the productivity, accuracy, and safety of maintenance personnel. Head-worn, motion-tracked displays augment the user’s physical view of the system with information such as sub-component labelling, guided maintenance steps, real time diagnostic data and safety warnings. The ‘virtualisation’ of the user and maintenance environment could also allow off-site collaborators to monitor and assist with repairs. Additionally, the integration of real-world knowledge bases with detailed 3D models provides opportunities to use the system as a maintenance simulator/training tool. The Colombia University project involves the design and construction of prototypes integrating the very latest in motion tracking, mobile computing, wireless networking, 3D model-
ling and human-machine interface technologies. In terms of practical application, the team have successfully designed, built and tested a prototype application to support military mechanics conducting routine maintenance tasks inside an armoured vehicle turret. The prototype uses a tracked headworn display to augment a mechanic’s natural view with text, labels, arrows, and animated sequences designed to facilitate task comprehension, location, and execution. To put the system through its paces professional military mechanics were asked to use the equipment in completing 18 common tasks under field conditions. These included installing and removing fasteners and indicator lights, and connecting cables, all within the cramped interior of an armoured personnel carrier turret. AR allowed mechanics to locate tasks more quickly than when using conventional methods, and in some instances, resulted in less overall head movement. A follow-up qualitative survey showed mechanics found the augmented reality condition intuitive and satisfying for the tested sequence of tasks One of ARMAR’s research directions is to examine what types of interaction techniques are well suited for conducting AR-assisted procedural tasks. This research led to the creation of so-called ‘Opportunistic Controls’, a class of user interaction techniques for AR applications that support gesturing on, and receiving feedback from, otherwise unused affordances already present in the virtual environment. Opportunistic Controls ease gesture input, simplify gesture recognition, and provide tangible feedback to the user. 3D user interface elements - or graphical widgets - provide visual feedback and hints about the functionality of the control. While not suitable for all scenarios, this technique may be a good choice for procedural tasks requiring eye and
hand focus and restricting other interaction techniques. At the moment, ARMAR is a research test-bed and not a ready-to-deploy production system. As such the team are free to explore different combinations of technologies. They are already looking at wireless solutions to effectively cut the cable from the
computer to the head-worn display. If progress is rapid, one could eventually envisage a visor that is wirelessly connected to a smartphone-sized waist-worn computer. For videos of the system in action, visit: http://graphics.cs.columbia.edu/projects/armar /index.htm
MITE May 2010
Moving online brings training home to crew In June a diplomatic conference will meet in Manila to adopt extensive amendments to the STCW Convention and Code to bring them both up to date with developments since the two instruments were last significantly revised in 1995. The proposed amendments (see box) bring into sharp relief the diverse pressures on today’s seafarer. On top of evolving regulation, the composition of crews too is becoming more culturally diverse, increasing the risk of communication breakdown. Add to this the frequency with which seafarers change ships, and it becomes clear that training services need to be more flexible and accessible at all times. For ship owners looking to foster high standards, computerbased training (CBT), whether on board or on shore, has become a crucial tool for achieving consistency and tracking crew competency. Norwegian CBT specialist Seagull has supplied crew training software to some 500 clients across the shipping industry. Its onboard suite is used on 7000 plus ships, with an impressive roll-call of longstanding customers including among others Teekay, Mitsui, OSM Crew Management, Shell, Thome, Chevron, BP, Columbia Ship Management, and BW Fleet Management. Since its formation in 1996, the company has developed close to 150 CBT modules together with assessment and management tools covering a full range of seafarer training needs to ensure that seafarer knowledge, STCW requirements, and IMO standards are met and exceeded on board ship. 30
MITE May 2010
Seafarers and their managers around the world are now just a mouse click away from one of the most powerful training libraries in the market as Seagull starts to migrate its computerbased training products online
These training packages cover subjects from navigation and communications to marine engineering, and cargo handling, as well as safety routines. There are even specific training modules for nurturing the ‘soft’ skills involved in conflict and culture management. Recent additions to the portfolio address stowaways, report writing in English in a maritime context, hydrogen sulphide
Tanker operator Teekay has been one of the first to take up the new STA Online package
awareness, and eTOTS, an electronic version of Intertanko’s Training Officer Training Standards (TOTS) initiative This year the company is planning to launch new titles covering requirements set out in the Maritime Labour Convention, due in force in 2011, as well as products designed to address the threat of piracy, anchoring procedures, hatch cover maintenance, and container fires. It is worth noting also that the modules undergo continuous revision. During the last year, Seagull has updated 24 titles from its portfolio. Customers can typically expect to receive new versions every 12-15 months. The back bone to all of these services is the Seagull Training Administrator (STA) – a software package that defines a training profile for every position and
STCW to be rubberstamped in Manila
crew member on board and is used to manage assessments, keep a record of scores and generally assist in crewmember and officer career development. This data is readily available to the training officer, and can be displayed on-screen, printed out or e-mailed. Until now, STA has been delivered through the Seagull Training System (STS), a laptop or desktop computer on which the entire onboard library of CBT modules are pre-installed and customised to include company personnel and ship data. The computer is ready for use when shipped; no other installation is necessary. However, at a time when people increasingly ‘work online’, this approach was beginning to show its age. The trend is to move away from locally installed software in favour of web-based applications, or to use the jargon: software-as-a-service. Aware of these changes, the team at Seagull have been working behind the scenes to create STA Online. Now on the verge of its official launch, STA Online enables individual seafarers and company staff to avail themselves of the full Seagull Onboard Training Library whenever they have Internet access. The system works on any computer with a Flash-enabled web-browser. ‘Shore-based personnel can have unlimited access to the administrative functions,’ says managing director Roger Ringstad, ‘while seafarers can log in from home to continue their training, and review their training record and development status. Because it is fully web-based, users do not need a laptop with specially installed software. Likewise, there are no restrictions on multiple users accessing the system at the same time from different offices.’ STA Online makes it possible for seafarers to complete their required training ashore and add to the training already completed on board ship. And irrespective of where the training was carried out, the scores are stored in the same central database.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (the STCW Convention) and its associated Code will be reviewed at a diplomatic conference in Manila, Philippines next month. These changes include: Improving measures to prevent fraudulent practices associated with certificates of competency; strengthening the evaluation process; and standards relating to medical fitness for seafarers; Reframing certification requirements for able seafarer (deck); to include celestial navigation, automatic radar plotting aids and radar requirements; marine environment awareness training; leadership and teamwork; and vessel-traffic-services training; Engine department: supplementary text on near coastal requirements; marine environment awareness training; leadership and teamwork; upgrading competences for engineers; and certification requirements for able seafarers (engine); Radiocommunications and Radio Personnel is renamed Radiocommunications and Radio Operators and updated to reflect current regulations, including reference to
the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual; Standards regarding special training for personnel on certain types of ships: competence requirements for personnel serving on board all types of tankers; and regulations for personnel on ʻro-ro passengerʼ and ʻpassenger shipsʼ combined to cover all ʻpassenger shipsʼ; Emergency, occupational safety, security, medical care and survival functions, amendments include: new requirements for maintaining professional competence in areas where training cannot be conducted on board; and new requirements for security training, as well as provisions to ensure that seafarers are properly trained to cope if their ship comes under attack by pirates; Alternative certification: includes the addition of requirements for certification of able seafarers and specifications for approved seagoing service and training required for certification of candidates at support level; and Watchkeeping: updated and expanded requirements on hours of work and rest and new requirements for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse.
Ringstad says that, already, 133 of Seagull’s CBT modules were available over the Internet, together with access to individual training records, competence requirements and status reports, company-specific CBT modules, crew evaluation and ability profiling. He adds that, in developing STA Online, Seagull had taken the opportunity to refine the way its products interfaced with users: ‘We have responded to customer feedback by developing what is an intuitive online package that is both comprehensive and easy to use.’ Integral to the package will be a range of graphical reports for tracking fleet trends, individual vessels, or individual personnel by rank. Using the Competence Manager as part of STA Online also simplifies organisation of seafarer training, so that every crew member’s career
path can be more easily monitored. ‘All training results can be accessed both on screen and in printed reports, and training modules can be run fully online, so that results can be stored in the customer’s database,’ says Ringstad. Development of STA Online is ongoing. A version featuring a full crew evaluation system and ability profiling is to be rolled out in the coming months, in line with the requirements of the updated Tanker Management and Self Assessment Programme (TMSA 2), with all STA functionality to be available online, including more comprehensive reporting and graphical representations of CBT records. ‘Ultimately, Seagull’s aim is for seafarers to have the flexibility to train on demand, online whenever and wherever it suits them,’ he says. MITE May 2010
Ridding ships of deadwood ‘Paper manuals are a nightmare: they are physically cumbersome and prone to damage, being lost or simply going obsolete. Moreover, there are significant costs involved if a document has to be reprinted and delivered to a vessel.’ These were the words of Mohamed Zaitoun, fleet technology superintendent at United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) speaking at the Shipdex 2010 conference held in Augsburg, Germany in February, as he explained why the company turned to the new standard as it sought a better approach to managing equipment documentation. UASC currently operates a fleet of 28 containerships with an additional 26 vessels on charter. It is also in the midst of a newbuild programme for nine 13 000teu ships. When delivered this year and next, these vessels will be furnished with a fully Shipdex compliant dataset. He elaborates: ‘Manuals created according to the Shipdex standard can be re-used and updated as necessary. You no longer have to find space for shelves full of documentation. Any damage to print-outs is inconsequential compared to oneoff printed copies from manufacturers.’ Another advantage, notes Zaitoun, is the time and money saved from having data that it is transferable. ‘Keying in data from hardcopy manuals to an electronic maintenance system is always an onerous task. Shipdex should eliminate the drudgery and make the process more automated and a lot more straightforward.’ One area where Zaitoun be32
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Shipowners are hopeful that electronic documentation produced to Shipdex rules will do away with the need to carry ʻdead treesʼ in the form of hardcopy manuals on their vessels
lieves there is still scope for development is in the standardisation of drawings. He takes the example of a fire alarm circuit board, where the diagrams on the control system cabinet diverge significantly from those printed in the manual. Such discrepancies, he says, can result in confusion when tracing faults, ie, when the diagrams are most needed. Shipdex has been likened to
Having embraced computer aided approval for drawings, Germanischer Lloyd believes Shipdex will lead to further efficiency gains
an international traveller’s universal power adaptor. It allows information on all kinds of ship equipment produced in varying formats by manufacturers to be imported into the different maintenance management software systems used by shipowners and operators. ‘For many years shipowners have had to cope with tremendous quantities of paper manuals’, says Dr Coletta, maintenance engineering R&D director at Grimaldi Group, one of the founding companies behind the standard. He cites a recent new delivery that came with more than a ton of technical documentation, including manuals, drawings, electrical diagrams, specifications and maintenance instructions. ‘It is difficult to accept that in
the age of the Internet and other advanced communications, our industry is still reliant on paper documents. Not only they inconvenient to store and keep up-todate, they often have to be retained in duplicate: on board ship and ashore.’ Many thousands of components from hundreds of manufacturers are needed to build a ship. As a result, conventional technical manuals come in all shapes and sizes with varying approaches to content organisation and structure. Early attempts at digitising this information, though representing a welcome step forward in terms of recognising the issue, failed to completely solve the problem. ‘The information was sometimes encoded in difficult to access proprietary formats and other times in simplistic formats, such as PDF. It was a challenge and burden extracting the data from individual manufacturers to put into, say, a ship’s maintenance database or shipowner’s ERP system,’ explains Dr Coletta. The main consequences of dealing with paper data include the time needed in retrieving information and the risks of information obsolescence. These can have knock-on effects on time needed to carry out maintenance tasks, spare parts procurement, and responding to class, port authority and other vetting requirements. Shipdex was created as an electronic ‘standard exchange protocol’ for producing, managing, exchanging, using and updating technical data. From the outset, it was developed as an open standard to give it the greatest possible chance of widespread adoption across the industry. The initial scope was to cover equipment and parts lists and maintenance procedures, but by choosing XML for encoding, the working group say it is fully expandable to new requirements if they arise. Since its inception in 2006 and official launch two years later in 2008, interest in the standard has steadily grow. Ship op-
erator founding members Grimaldi and Intership Navigation have been joined by the likes of Atlantic Container Line, FinnLines, Rederi AB Transatlantic and the previously mentioned United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) among others. Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce Marine and Kongsberg Maritime have enlisted as manufacturers, swelling the ranks of founder members including MAN Diesel, MacGregor Group, Alfa Laval and Yanmar. More significantly are the first endorsements from a shipyard – Germany’s TKMS Blohm Voss Nordseewerke – and classification society Germanischer Lloyd (GL). It is hoped these last two entrants will join the Shipdex Protocol Management Group (SPMG) to ensure that as the standard evolves, it continued to represent the needs of all players in the maritime industry. Tobias Vorberg, vice president of systems integration and development at GL shared his views on the potential for efficiency gains in the class approval process. ‘Shipdex will impact on everyone in the ship supply chain. As the standard takes hold, inevitably, it will spill over to the dialogue shipyards and owners have with class societies too.’ In recent years GL has
Upcoming newbuilds to UASCʼs fleet will have a Shipdex compliant set of electronic manuals to ease maintenance management
Shipdex will impact on everyone in the ship supply chain. As the standard takes hold, inevitably, it will spill over to the dialogue shipyards and owners have with class societies too
Tobias Vorberg, Germanischer Lloyd
moved to embrace electronic data transfer as a means of reducing the administrative burden involved in handling upwards of the one million paper documents and drawings arriving at its doors annually. The introduction of Computer Aided Approval (CAA) has streamlined the process significantly, bringing about faster turnaround times and allowing inspectors to more easily keep track on the status of projects in their charge. It is advantageous for their clients too. ‘In the past they would frequently receive a large stack of documents and have to find the corresponding remarks in order to evaluate them. With CAA, the comments are listed in a simple PDF file, which are linked back to the relevant sections of the submitted documentation.’ Shipdex would, believes Vorberg, lead to even more efficiency gains by providing a consistent format for document, making for easier filing and smoother digital workflow. Most significantly, a standardised data structure should reduce repetition of data input among all parties and dangers of errors creeping into information. At the same conference, EvaLisa Martinson, manager of technical documentation services at MacGregor, gave an insight into the streamlining that Shipdex has brought about for a maritime equipment manufacturer. ‘In the past we used DTP software, such as FrameMaker and PageMaker, in combination with a mixture of home-grown tools and databases. Putting everything together involved many manual tasks,’ she explains. ‘Because Shipdex is based on XML, it is inherently structured. We now divide our manuals into three categories: descriptive (function and operation), procedural (maintenance tasks) and illustrated data (for spare parts). This new workflow has translated into a 50% increase in our production throughput. It has also allowed us to become more flexible in reusing information.’ MITE May 2010
Scanning to speed up onboard stock takes The use of hand-held barcode scanners seems an attractively straightforward solution to the onerous task of keeping track of inventory onboard ship. Following news that ABS Nautical Systems (ABS-NS) has partnered with Sys-Tec, an industry leader in barcode data collection and radio-frequency identification solutions, a practicable implementation might now be on the horizon. ‘With operating costs continuing to increase, ship operators, managers and owners need a dependable and economical solution to ensure inventory accuracy aboard their vessels,’ said Joe Woods, vice president of global sales for ABS Nautical Solutions. ‘This new technology will track the inventory and provide accurate and up-to-date reporting, giving technical and purchasing managers the tools to make informed decisions when managing resources and procuring parts for their vessels.’ The scanner upgrade also will give customers the ability to perform audit/cycle counts, issue parts and compile inventory reconciliations and queries in both onshore warehouses and aboard a vessel. This will increase the accuracy and timeliness of inventory management, particularly for spare parts while reducing account and control costs. The solution will be available as part of ABS Nautical Systems’ NS5 Purchasing & Inventory module and customers will have the option to choose between Intermec and Motorola scanners. Durable barcode labels capable 34
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ABS Nautical Systems believes that barcode scanners have the potential to streamline inventory management and thereby contribute to improved vessel reliability, but success will depend on careful implementation
Bar code scanners reduce the risk of error
of withstanding a shipboard environment will also be available. ‘A crew member writing down or typing in an alphanumeric number will make an error one in every seven characters,’ claims Richard Perron, president of Sys-Tec. ‘With this new scanning technology, the risk for error is reduced to less than one in seven million.’ The technology will be rolled out for customers in three phases: implementation of scanner technology; NS5 integration; business process improvement and workflow integration. With regard to that last point, one of the biggest challenges in
implementing any new inventory management system is how to tackle existing inventory. In an ideal world, an operator would place barcodes on the equipment all at once. But, of course, we don’t live in an ideal world. Nautical Systems’ business development manager Chris McCourt explains: ‘We realise that under every day operations labelling every storage location and piece of equipment on board the vessel in a single swoop is not a practical proposition. With this in mind, the operator can take a phased-in approach, with the software producing labels for storage locations and parts on an as-needed basis. ‘For new inventory, we would recommend labelling up as it arrives to the warehouse or ship, then using the hand-held terminals to register its ‘putaway’. This increases efficiency and accuracy. In practice individual operator’s existing processes would be assessed to ensure the most efficient approach is arrived at. The company plans to add workflows to the handheld software that will allow users to take delivery of spare parts onboard the vessels. And, going forward, intends to incorporate advanced warehouse inventory control functions including receiving of inventory (on shore or ship) against a transfer order or purchase order including stow, move and pick processes, etc.
ʻOwners need a dependable solution to ensure inventory accuracy aboard their vesselsʼ
Joe Woods, ABS Nautical
GL clears port access for all GL Maritime Software has decided to make its ‘Port Clearance Assistant’ (PCA) product available free of charge to ship owners and managers. As its name suggests, PCA is designed to simplify port clearance procedures by alerting crew to the relevant rules and regulations prior to arrival. GL made its decision since a considerable body of knowledge stored in the product draws on contributions and experience of its end-users. The move mirrors a wider recognition of opensource and community driven software in society as a whole. Regulations differ considerably according to each country and even between ports. Preparing the necessary port documents for customs and immigration procedures can be a time consuming task, especially with ever changing requirements. PCA prepares port documents automatically, which
saves time and paperwork onboard. Based on a pre-defined route the necessary port documents are already assigned in the system and ready when entering the respective port. Much of the data, for example crew member details, is ‘automagically’ populated, which means the captain just has to review the details and the documents are ready for arrival at the next port. In some cases the documents can even be sent to the agent in the port before the actual arrival of the ship. When an electronic notice of arrival and departure (e-NOA/D) is required - for example in the USA or Germany - advance notice of arrival can be sent to the governing port authority in the required format from the system. Over 500 standard port clearance documents may be accessed at any time. At the same time the crew can be sure that the library is kept up to date because all users of the system can
GLʼs database on port clearance procedures is kept up-todate by shipping companies
inform GL Maritime Software of any new requirements they may encounter. The system then enables all other users to benefit from an immediate update. PCA is one module of the GL ShipManager ship management software offering. This comprehensive software suite supports planned maintenance, purchasing, stock control, voyage management, port clearance, incident management, and quality and safety management.
Bass software lightens the load of HR management As the shipping industry adapts to ever-tightening legislation, so software vendors must ensure their products keep pace with new rules concerning such areas as environmental performance, compliance and regulatory frameworks (such as ISM and ISPS), tanker self-assessment (TMSA) and vetting inspections. The latest iteration of BASSnet, a fleet management solution from Bass of Norway, boasts a raft of innovative modules and improvements, ranging from key performance indicators, meeting planning and action follow-up to cost-effective supplier selection and crew performance tracking. Notably version 2.6 comes with the web-based BASSnet HR Manager crewing and payroll software, which is designed to
streamline the management of maritime-specific personnel information typically handled by shipping companies, such as STCW licenses, certifications and on-board wages, among others. ‘We’ve listened to client feedback and have addressed their crew planning and performance tracking needs in this new version. The ‘self-service’ web system also enables easier interaction and information sharing between different departments via a single data source,’ says product manager Rajesh Purkar. BASSnet HR Manager improves human resource handling through better visibility, data accuracy and real-time connectivity. In addition to personnel data management, recruitment, budget and travel planning, it
also incorporates a sub-module, called Competence & Training, which will assist crewing departments schedule personnel with the right competencies for the right ship at the right time. Another highlight of the latest release is SupplierLink, a module designed to save time during the supplier selection process. It allows quotation requests from BASSnet Procurement to be quickly generated into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for distribution to multiple suppliers. When the quotes are returned, the data can be automatically re-imported back into the Procurement module. This is further augmented by new tools for rating different suppliers according to price, delivery promptness and other parameters. MITE May 2010
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A foretaste of design techniques to come Over the decades, computer aided design (CAD) has progressed from a tool for electronically representing conventional drawing to a central design platform. This went hand in hand with the trend to employ 3D models of ship hull and machinery. Modern product data models (PDMs) combine geometry information with a host of related product data, concerning materials, tolerances and suppliers to mention but a few. Now a standard in maritime CAD applications, PDMs are the starting point for a multitude of simulation options and support virtual prototyping. They also assist the general trend towards distributed, concurrent working practices with frequent updates, where information is increasingly exchanged between partners via the Internet. However, PDMs are not yet used to their full potential. With the possible exceptions of navies, they do not yet cover the life cycle of ships as they should. While the vision of a consistent life-cycle PDM has only partly realised, but is subject to widespread research activities. Some COMPIT contributions cover this development. Nick Danese (NDAR) presented in ‘Ship CAD Systems – Past, Present and Possible Future’ the development of CAD in the shipbuilding industry, from the early pregraphics systems to the current database centric data management systems. He highlighted the four most employed ship modelling techniques in use today and their contribution to design, production and operation of ships. The role of the ship product model was discussed, to36
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Software tools have become so entrenched within the ship design and production planning process that modern naval architects would be lost without them. But what does the future hold? Volker Bertram reviews the latest developments as presented at COMPIT 2010
gether with a comparison of current PDMs with what could be achieved already with existing software, technology, and modelling methods. Veronica Alonso und Carlos Gonzalez (SENER) charted the transition ‘From Traditional 2D Drawings to 3D Early Product Model’. Ship design is usually developed in three stages: Concept, Basic and Detail. Correct integration of the stages is fundamental for the effectiveness of any shipyard or design office. 3D approaches are widely used in Detail design while Basic design is still mainly based on 2D drawings, leading to long design periods and cost increase. The main challenges refer to the integration of all stages and disciplines and to the use of a single software tool that must be effective in the generation of class drawings for approval as well as in the transfer of a simplified 3D model to the analysis and calculation tools. The crucial concept is the reuse of the information. The authors presented SENER’s version of such a tool. The integration is achieved by the use of a single database for all stages and disciplines allow-
ing collaborative design and providing full control of the integrity of the information. The intensive use of topology for the definition of the 3D model allows an efficient management of the modifications as well as an easy evaluation of design alternatives. The fundamental quest for faster creation of complex models both for CAD representations and simulations was alluded to in several contributions this year. David Thomson (AVEVA) underlined the importance of PDMs for efficient collaboration between the various stake holders in the maritime industries, namely ship owners, shipyards, classification societies and suppliers (see full story on pXX). Darren Larkins (ShipConstructor Software) showed how 3D data models can support ‘design for production’ aspects in engineering departments. The software allows taking the facility constraints, production capabilities, and optimum production practices for a specific shipyard into account when performing detail design work. Two papers specifically addressed the management and financial aspects of IT systems. George Bruce (University of Newcastle) showed in ‘Reducing Management Software Costs’ how open-source software is opening interesting options for small and medium shipyards seeking to tailor management information systems for their needs and budgets. Volker Bertram (FutureShip) and Patrick Couser (Formation Design Systems) discussed ‘Aspects in Selecting the Right CAD and CFD Software’. They emphasised the point that licence fees are often only a small part of the total IT costs in industry. Compa-
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nies pay dearly in terms of man-time for allegedly cheap software. The authors presented a systematic assessment procedure to avoid overlooking major cost items like training and reduced productivity during the introduction phase. Simulation Many key decisions in ship design, production and operation are increasingly based on simulations, and as a consequence, a variety of simulation methods have evolved. A common problem here id the effort required in model generation. Roughly 80% of the total effort is spent in the model generation. Substantial progress is required here to open the door for further and early employment of simulations. COMPIT has, since its inception, keenly followed the advances made in simulation for production and related problems. Ten years ago, Discrete Event Simulation (DES) was still a largely unknown term in the maritime community. Since then, however, it has become established at many modern shipyards. Today the focus is no longer at what can be done, but how to do it quickly and cheaply. The quest is on for faster, more automated model generation by re-using or importing information from existing data models. Lödding et al (TU HamburgHarburg) present a representative effort in ‘Rule-based Resource Allocation – An Approach to Integrate Different Levels of Planning Details in Production Simulation’. They have developed a rulebased decision module for simulation tasks, which aids the simulation user in modelling the decision-making process with the help of predefined conditions and actions. This simplifies the process for those users with less experience and allows faster for simulation experts. In ‘Generic Data Model for Production Simulation in
Shipbuilding’, Dirk Steinhauer (Flensburger Shipyard) reports from his industry experience: ‘Even for shipyards such as Flensburger that integrated simulation into their planning procedures, the full potential cannot be tapped because data from CAD or network planning often does not contain the required information about the product or from the production process. ‘Sometimes incompatible data formats thwart modelling efforts. Shipyards implementing DES for production simulation find their most difficult obstacle here.’ The shipyard is now in the process of developing a generic data model for production simulation with several German partners from industry and academia. The simulation of passenger traffic flows onboard ships for emergency evacuation is a particular application of DES. Here the ‘objects’ are human beings which each possess their own reasoning process and each come to their own decisions. Simulations have to make assumptions about reaction speeds, walking speeds, etc, that are typically based on generic information found in academic publications or, for example, IMO regulations. Until now there has been little data specific to large passenger vessels or ferries. Instead, data drawn from land-based hotels was frequently employed. Ed Galea (University of Greenwich) and his collaborators have now
Complex structures require high performance CAD systems
collected data from full-scale tests on real ships to review and update currently used data. Passengers were equipped with infrared sensors allowing reliable identification of each passenger even in large crowds. Procedure, preliminary results and possible conclusions for future IMO specifications were discussed in ‘Collection of Evacuation Data for Large Passenger Vessels at Sea’. Design optimisation Finite element analysis (FEA) is another technique that is becoming increasingly prevalent, steadily displacing traditional simplistic methods for structural analysis in initial ship design. However, although much of the required information needed to perform these analyses is already contained in other models, it is often simpler and faster for naval architects to create the model from scratch. In ‘Utilisation of Integrated Design and Mesh Generation in Ship Design Process’, Tomi Holmberg (Napa) described techniques for the coupling of CAD model and FEA simulations, with particular reference to the solution reached within the Napa design system, to eliminate such duplication of effort. Optimisation has always been a keyword at COMPIT. MITE May 2010
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An autonomous future
Though core optimisation techniques continue to be refined, new methods and approaches abound, and at the moment, evolutionary algorithms are attracting the most attention. Besides the ‘classic’ genetic algorithms, swarm algorithms that mimic the strategies of bees or ants in nature are enjoying a renewed popularity. As robust as genetic algorithms, these algorithms can be more efficiently processes on parallel computers. Of the many papers on optimisation, two stood out for capturing uncertainty in the variables. Jode Marcio Vasconcellos (University of Rio de Janeiro) presents in ‘Ship Structural Optimization under Uncertainty’ an application to oil tankers, employing genetic algorithms. In this instance, external loads and tolerances for scantlings are examples of uncertain data. Elsewehere, Anthony Daniels et al (University of Michigan) considered the ‘Effects of Uncertainty in Fuzzy Utility Values on General Arrangements Optimisation’. At the heart of this methodology are so-called ‘fuzzy utility’ functions that represent the satisfaction of goals and constraints
THE ULTIMATE in automation is of course achieved in autonomous robots. Such robots are in high demand for offshore, oceanographic and military applications. Technology advances rapidly in this field. On the one hand, the cognitive skills ‒ or ʻintelligenceʼ ‒ of the robots develop; on the other there is a trend towards using swarms of robots. Envisioned scenarios include underwater robot swarms capable of organising themselves cooperatively to achieve a mission goal, eg, the efficient underwater mapping of unknown terrain. Andrea Caiti (University of Pisa), among the leading authorities on this field in Europe, in a presentation entitled ʻAUV Networks for Adaptive Area Coverage with Reliable Acoustic Communication Linksʼ explored how swarms of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) might be able to position themselves dynamically around a ship. In ʻTowards Cooperative Cognitive Control for Autonomous Underwater Vehiclesʼ, Andreas Birk (Jacobs University) described efforts to develop, implement and test advanced cognitive systems for coordination and cooperative control of multiple AUVs. Several aspects were investigated including 3D perception and mapping, cooperative situation awareness, navigation and the challenges of underwater communication.
for the various design considerations in the solution space. Bart von Oers (Dutch Materiel Organisation) and his coauthors considered the topic of general arrangement in ‘A 3D Packing Approach for Early Stage
CFD is used to develop fuel efficient hull forms
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Configuration Design of Ships’. The approach relies on two basic steps. In the first step, a packing approach integrated with a search algorithm generates a large number of feasible ship configurations, without relying on predefined ‘type ship’ layouts. In the second step, the naval architect selects the ‘best’ feasible configuration by whatever measures deemed appropriate. Together, the two steps relieve the naval architect from the responsibility to maintain a feasible ship configuration and therefore permit a more thorough investigation of trade-offs between performances. Most importantly, large changes to the ship configuration are straightforward due to the availability of a large and diverse set of ship configurations to choose from. This was followed up by Karel Wagner (GustoMSC) and co-authors who applied this approach to an offshore drill ship in ‘Modelling Complex Vessels for Use in a 3D Packing Approach: An Application to Deepwater Drilling Vessel Design’. Stefan Harries (Friendship Systems) and Florian Vesting (Chalmers Technical University) combine in ‘Aerodynamic Optimisation of Superstructures and Components’ parametric CAD models, state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and formal optimisation to optimise aerodynamic problems for ships, such as exhaust gas distribution. Work being undertaken by classification societies also came under the spotlight. Christian Cabos and Uwe Langbecker (Germanischer Lloyd) gave details of ‘Hull Maintenance based on a 3D Model’. The paper showed how the planning, preparation, execution and assessment of visual inspections of the hull structure can be supported by a 3D model of the respective vessel. Data on the vessel’s hull condition can subsequently be stored in a lifecycle database together with the thickness measurement data captured during class renewal.
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Focus on fuel savings
The 9th International Conference on Computer and IT Applications in the Maritime Industries (COMPIT) took place 12-14 April 2010 in Gubbio (Italy). First held in 2000, COMPIT has estab-
The numerical wave tank brings 3D models and simulations together
WHEN FUEL prices skyrocketed in 2008, it shocked the industry into paying much more attention to energy efficiency. It is anticipated that fuel prices will exceed the record levels set in 2008 within the next ten years. For this reason, since last year Compit has run a dedicated session on IT applications for fuel saving. Among contributions at this yearʼs conference, Heikki Hansen and Malte Freund (FutureShip) presented two tools to improve fuel efficiency. The ʻTrim Assistantʼ computes the optimum trim of a ship depending on displacement, speed and water depth. The approach is based on systematic simulations resulting in a hydrodynamic database for a given hull form. The onboard tool can then rapidly interpolate in this database. A case study on a multi-purpose vessel of a German ship operator shows saving potential of impressive 5%. ʻEnergy Assistantʼ enables the crew to monitor the energy consumption and efficiency of the different consumers such as main and auxiliary engines, generators and pumps. With this information inefficient consumers can be identified by the crew, problems can be detected and defects can be corrected. Such assistance tools can improve the operational fuel efficiency of ships in service significantly without requiring expensive modifications to the vessel.
lished itself as a leading conference in the field of IT for the maritime industries, bringing together software developers and users.
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MSC Cruises stays loyal to Marlink Reinforcing its position as a leading satellite communications provider for the European cruise market, Marlink has secured a 3-year contract renewal with the Italian operator MSC Cruises. The Norwegian satcoms provider will install its Sealink VSAT services onboard more vessels, as well as expand its services to include several value added services to benefit crew and passengers. ʻIt has become critical for us to have high-quality, reliable satellite communications onboard our ships. The high-bandwidth connectivity provided by Marlinkʼs Sealink solution enables us to connect vessels with our offices on land to improve operational efficiency. The solution also enables us to provide passengers and crew with costeffective voice, Internet and
email services,ʼ comments Emilio La Scala, general manager of MSC Cruises technical department. The contract renewal with MSC Cruises will include the delivery, installation and operation of Sealink, Marlinkʼs global C-band VSAT solution, on board the newbuild MSC Magnifica. The company will also continue to provide Sealink on ten ships in the MSC fleet and will expand services on each ship, providing more than twenty simultaneous telephone channels, third-party GSM access and Internet access with link optimising and content filtering services for administration, crew and passenger use. Additionally, the Sealink system provides direct administration MPLS access in the terrestrial network to MSCʼs head office LAN and telephone system in Sorrento, Italy. The MSC Magnifica will be connected by a C-band VSAT
KDDI signs as Iridium partner Iridium has extended its relationship with Japanese telecoms company KDDI by making it an authorised service provider for Iridium OpenPort. KDDI has secured Japanese product type approvals and will distribute Iridium OpenPort units and service into the Japanese merchant shipping and commercial fishing fleets. ʻIridium OpenPort meets a growing need for higher-capacity voice and data in todayʼs maritime industry,ʼ said Yuzuru Takayama, general manager, mobile satellite sales at KDDI. ʻWith multiple independent phone lines, IP-based architecture, data services up to 128 kbps and low equipment and usage costs, Iridium OpenPort is an ideal solution for shipping companies and fishing fleets.ʼ As of March, Iridium has delivered and activated more than 1500 terminals on a wide range of vessels, including large ocean-going ships, naval craft, commercial fishing vessels and private yachts.
African ferries get GSM Norwegian firm Maritime Communications Partner (MCP) has inked long term contracts for the operation of its sophisticated GSM system and services on five ferries plying the waters between North Africa and Southern Europe. The agree-
ments relate to three vessels operated by LʼEnterprise Nationale de Transport Maritime de Voyageurs of Algeria and two vessels belonging to the Tunisian Ferry operator La Compagnie Tunisiene De Navigation.
CapRock secures Greek deal CapRock Communications has secured a 5-year fleet contract with Diamlemos Shipping Corporation for nine C-band installations in cooperation with its Greek partner Setel. This is the fifth contract for CapRock and Setel in the Greek market in six months. The five contracts are based on the SeaAccess Communications service, CapRockʼs alwayson VSAT solution designed specifically for the maritime market.
PACC rolls out high-speed Inmarsat connection
Anglo Eastern goes online with FleetBroadband
Singapore-based ship manager, PACC, has equipped 30 ships with broadband terminals in a three year contact with Telaurus Communications. The subsidiary of Globecomm Systems will fit Inmarsat FleetBroadband 500 terminals and deploy its communications management platform, called se@COMM, on board the vessels. The latest release of se@COMM provides email for both the ship's business and crew use, in addition to control mechanisms for monitoring broadband traffic so that the ship manager does not incur expensive charges due to unnecessary or non-approved data connections. Other noteworthy features include the cost of sending each message being automatically displayed prior to transmission making it easier to budget and control expenditures; pre-paid web-browsing cards for recreational Internet usage by crew (se@CARD); and an anti-virus application (se@SHIELD). A separate web-based control panel enables shore-based managers to keep their eye on the vesselʼs communications usage and cost on a real-time basis.
Some 350 vessels operated by Anglo Eastern Ship Management are set to be fitted with FleetBroadband terminals. ʻOur vessels currently use a variety of satellite terminals including Inmarsat Mini-M, B, Fleet terminals,ʼ commented the operatorʼs Capt Pradeep Chawla. Two new terminals will be fitted on each vessel. Having selected FB, the operator plans to standardise satcoms across the entire fleet, which according to Capt Chawla will ʻprovide a total solution for business and crew services, as well as for training programs, remote IT system
MITE May 2010
support, and expanded functionality.ʼ The order was won by Globe Wireless ‒ its first major success since becoming an official distribution partner for Inmarsat service. Company president Frank Coles said: ʻFleetBroadband is a robust, reliable and cost effective communications system, which we believe will prove to be extremely popular and successful with our customers.ʼ Globe Wireless will additionally deploy GlobeMobile, its GSM product for mobile voice and SMS services, throughout the Anglo Eastern fleet.
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Published on Jun 1, 2010
The May/June 2010 issue of Maritime IT & Electronics magazine includes features on the prospects of Ka-band VSAT, the difference between own...