Posted: 10th April 2018 | Written by: OnboardOnline
Communications and service technology within the luxury marine industry has evolved immensely over the past few decades, with regulation changes and the decline of analogue technology opening intelligent solutions for easy, secure and reliable onboard communications systems.
Net-Logic Marine has been riding this wave for over 18 years, during which time they have provided over 3,500 solutions to improve safety and efficiency of guests and crew on luxury yachts worldwide.
Credited with developing the world’s first wireless Bridge Navigation Watch Alarm System (BNWAS), glowing reports have been building for their DAME-nominated VesselWatch; intelligent software that expands the capabilities of a yacht’s two-way radio system.
VesselWatch is a practical solution empowering crew to communicate more efficiently to enhance both service and safety throughout the vessel. Since it can be easily integrated with existing systems it also saves time and money for captains who would otherwise have to rethink their entire approach to managing alerts and alarms.
Central to VesselWatch is a series of alarm and monitoring applications to warn crew of any adverse changes to a vessel, personal situation or weather conditions. It’s an intuitive system using the Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) two-way radio infrastructure, with robust coverage for routine and emergency communications.
The Advanced Alarm Monitoring inherent in VesselWatch uses intelligent alarm listeners and a discrete messaging service for a range of scenarios including fire, a breach in security, adverse weather and man overboard. For example, A Man Overboard Alarm instantly alerts crew when a radio is submerged, Wind Alert monitors wind speed and alerts crew when a maximum value is reached and a Tender Tow Alarm triggers when a tender-on tow has broken free.
VesselWatch can be fully harmonised with existing alarm and monitoring systems and can be pre-configured to direct a particular alert to the most appropriate person or group.
Captains and engineers will also appreciate the system’s forward-thinking functionality. Pre-alarms monitor abnormal conditions to provide early warning of an alarm condition approaching. These are transmitted to trained crew giving them enough time to investigate the cause of the alert and avoid escalation to a full alarm.
When guests are out on the water VesselWatch uses the digital radio GPS output providing intelligent tracking for safety and privacy. Tenders and water toys can be seen at a glance on any networked device and can be monitored within geo-fenced perimeters and customisable safe zones.
In the event of no response, VesselWatch implements a three-stage escalation plan to prompt action when a first contact has gone unnoticed.
Further features include alerts for essential safety checks, privacy via encryption and the ability to monitor and shut down individual handsets.
VesselWatch is also designed to enhance the guest experience. Via a single click from a smart device, AV controller or custom onboard RF buttons, guests can order items such as ice or towels, or food and drinks orders can be sent directly to the bar or galley which simultaneously alerts a crew member for service.
For crew, android and iOS Apps remove the need for pagers, turning your smart device into a crew call button and recording when a request has been handled to avoid duplicate responses. With additional hardware crew can also use VesselWatch to control other systems such as passerelles, lights, sound, fans, doors and locks.
Choose Wisely - Selecting the Correct Handset
The Motorola SL4000e and the Hytera X1P are the go-to portable radios for the interior team due to their size and capability. For the deck and engineering departments other portables may be more robust and Net-Logic Marine can offer guidance on the most suitable device for your role.
All radios are programmed at source and captains can depend on remote support once their system goes live.
Misunderstandings in communication are a common cause of accidents at sea but voice and data transmitted over a DMR system are digitally encrypted and suffer no degradation. Discretion is another important consideration when owners and guests are onboard, so data messaging allows crew to communicate silently while maintaining control over key onboard systems.
Compliance is also critical and Net-Logic can provide expert advice on what does and doesn’t satisfy International Radio Regulations set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
Important changes introduced recently include:
All radios used onboard must conform to ETSI standard EN300 720. Recommendation ITU-R M.1174-3 sets out the technical characteristics of equipment and the marine frequencies and modulation types that can legally be used.
Narrow banding has been enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US to encourage efficient use of the frequency spectrum and Europe is expected to follow. Accordingly two-way radios can no longer use 25 KHz channel spacing and must now use 12.5 KHz, with a further planned reduction to 6.25 KHz. Such frequencies can only be used by DMR devices, while TETRA radios are now illegal for onboard UHF communications.
The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has adopted an amendment to SOLAS regulation II-2/10 requiring ships to carry a minimum of two ATEX portable hand held radios for two-way communication by the 1st July 2018:
“For ships constructed on or after 1 July 2014, a minimum of two, 2-way portable radiotelephone apparatus for each fire party for fire-fighter’s communication shall be carried on board. Those 2-way portable radiotelephone apparatus shall be of an explosion-proof type or intrinsically safe. Ships constructed before 1 July 2014 shall comply with the requirements of this paragraph not later than the first survey after 1 July 2018.”
From Survey to Installation
Acting independently of all manufacturers and suppliers, Net-Logic offers impartial advice to optimise performance and value for money. From the initial survey to installation, they provide each vessel with a system tailored to precise needs, and this includes product demonstrations, Q&A sessions, license evaluation and crew training to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Across all departments, VesselWatch is changing the way hand held radios are used onboard yachts. By reducing the number of different devices needed while increasing features and functionality, VesselWatch provides a joined up solution for enhanced safety monitoring, security and guest service.