Bridge technology is no new thing, a series of interconnected grouped screens allowing centralized access to control, monitoring and navigation. However, a fully integrated bridge management system is about to set sail.
A stunning combination of official hardware coming together as one uniform ergonomic solution – a sleek 21st Century generation bridge, a video wall feature. This next-generation bridge will be of great interest to shipyards, owners, and captains.
The evolution of the bridge has come a long way from the convergence of multiple systems of the past. The initial idea for this new system is utilising technologies that are available in the greater technology sector building on the successes of the aviation industry. This system is narrowing the gap of bridge technology in the industry, although technology moves a lot faster than regulations do so having to honour existing regulations can hold you back!
As a concept at the forefront of technology, there are still some difficulties and challenges (as there always are with new technology) but early ambassadors and clients for this new product are still on board – so it’s clearly working well for them.
Solutions for Integrated Control and Communication Systems
The SICCS system (Solutions for Integrated Control and Communication Systems) was developed from the concept of aviation communication control, but with the ethos to keep things simple. Providing yacht crew and owners with a system that provides effective, accurate yet simple to use communication tracking and control.
Sensors and all onboard systems placed throughout the yacht are controlled centrally directly to the network or through an analog-digital converter. The network is managed by a central PC in the bridge where dedicated custom software is installed. The simple idea is that all information is trackable and recorded in the background but you can customize your ‘dashboard’ to see the data that is most relevant to you at that time.
Communication boxes are connected to the smart server which allows you to change the control boxes without any additional programming or setup. The control box will be programmed automatically. Developed for marine use and RINA certified, the SICCS control box is the most powerful and secure way to control and monitor your yacht. The boxes can be installed centrally, for example in an electrical box in the engine room or decentralised near the consumers or sensors. All the communications are on TCP-IP which drastically reduces the wiring and installation time. The SICCS can communicate in LON, NMEA2000, NMEA0183, RS232, RS486, CAN-BUS and other “languages”.
The SICCS System integrates all superyacht technology equipment including those for navigation including steering, autopilot, and charting; Engine and generators, including monitoring and control; air conditioning, watermakers, hydraulics, sprinklers, stabilisers, electrical and life support systems.
SICCS is the soft version of the glass bridge itself, mimicking everything on the bridge including recording sensor information for doors, fuel tanks, bilge pumps, navigation lights, monitoring, temperature, flows, fuel pumps, alarm status’ and so much more.
The integrated bridge can be used on all yacht sizes, without limitation and can be installed in new builds and retrofitted. The console is ergonomic and very simple to use and understand; buttons and switches are placed very thoughtfully to make the console highly intuitive, easy to use and visually pleasing. A few examples of the uses of the system are highlighted below.
Interactive Navigation Data
The navigation data communicates with the navigation software and transfers all the data to a smart TV in the cabins for entertainment, or to tablets (or PC) for checking the alarms, cruise speed, and other systems. The Captain can also transfer the radar visual or navigation chart to the desired monitor on the console. The software also allows splitting of the screen in order to watch more than one video at the same time (through the video wall technology).
The possibility to have master-slave mode allows the crew to control the consumers, sensors and other devices in the engine room directly from the touch screen in the same room. This allows the chief engineer to check all the parameters, to control and monitor all the devices directly from the touch screen. At the same time, the SICCS system alerts the captain that someone is working in the engine room so it provides an extra safety edge.
Electronic Chart Display Information Systems
ECDIS (electronic chart display information system) was the first step in technology and digitising in the superyacht industry, the predecessor of the ’smart bridge’. It is a critical component of shipboard navigation and is designed to integrate data, information and, above all else, improve the safety of the vessel. The hardware and software must be an approved type according to MSC232 (82) and must conform with the requirements set out in the IMO ECDIS performance standards (IEC 60945 and IEC 61162). Only if these criteria are met can ECDIS be properly installed, by a factory-trained engineer who follows strict guidelines and standards for digital interfaces for navigational equipment.
From this, there have been developments in the equipment on the bridge, the true value in research and investment, of course, is the value to the owner and the end-user of the bridge. Technology is only valuable if it allows you to save time and/or save money, whilst automating, optimizing and simplifying the original manual systems.
As technology continues to advance so do the languages that feed it. The whole technology world is becoming very open-source, with the emergence of all systems working together and interconnecting, making the using of technology systems a unified and cohesive experience.
As with all aspects of our highly technical and digitised lives of today, technology is worthless without advanced communication and connectivity. The 21st-century SICCS bridge is no exception. The captain will generally control the firewall of authorization but systems can now be monitored by shore-side support remotely for troubleshooting and enhancements.
Smart yachting can only happen if it’s connected. SICCS challenges the industry and truly brings bridge technology into the future.
To read about SICCS see their article here in the Superyacht Technology News Winter Blueprint.