UK Electronic Solutions has, in MD Paul Rutherford’s opinion, invented the CTV-owner’s best friend.

Why? Because the company’s Oceanic Dynamics kit measures much more than a strain gauge ever could about the real state of play during crew and equipment transfers.

Not only does the suitcase-sized solution give the owner overall performance monitoring, it will give a clear picture of the force of the vessel on the landing, orientation and acceleration characteristics – and most importantly, what else what going on. “If there’s an impact over the 200kN limit because the boat was carried by a heavy wave, the owner can meet the energy company and show them exactly what happened,” Mr Rutherford told MJ.

It will also be a help to owners trying to evaluate different systems, as it will break down the ‘before’ and ‘after’ data – even giving feedback on how different crews handle operations.

And, if there’s an incident, it will also prove a reliable witness as the CCTV cameras will give a visual record to back it all up. Even if it’s only a minor issue, he pointed out it’s probably best to have detailed information at hand and be able to respond before being summoned into the energy company’s offices.

There may be another dynamic pushing systems like these to the fore. Operation and impact monitoring is a “growing requirement at the tender stage” said Mr Rutherford: “I’d say it’s better to have it onboard early - and under your control - than have a system forced on you.”

As the self-contained, plug-in kit that has such a small footprint it can fairly easily find a niche in the engine room. There it gathers data such as rpm, temperature, throttle, coolant pressure, battery charge and so on, combining it with information from the high resolution CCTV camera and a very accurate motion reference unit (MRU).

“We wanted to make something that wouldn’t frighten people off - so there’s no drilling holes in the bulkhead,” explained Mr Rutherford. Most importantly there is no real downtime, it usually takes under a day to get up and running during most of which the vessel can be underway. More, because it’s on a contract – not buy – basis the case can be simply unplugged and taken out if there’s a period off-hire (helpfully the OD contract is stopped for the duration too) and it can also be switched between vessels without bother. “Given the ups and downs of the CTV market, we are making the agreements as realistic and flexible as possible,” the MD added.

Getting the most out of information can be tricky: it’s a question of knowing what you need to know and being clever about how it’s presented. So for example, on the daily reports generated by the centralised OD centre, each turbine transfer is flagged up and a hovering mouse will reveal a video clip showing the moments of impact alongside other data, allowing a deep drill down into the supporting information.

The system also manages the data routing to minimise costs; usefully the parent Group, NSSLGlobal, runs a worldwide satcom service so UK Electronic Solutions has a clear understanding of this element “although this isn’t a way to generate more comms business” said Mr Rutherford. Although some vessels might want real-time data, others will be on pay-as-you-go broadband he explained: in that case when the case on board gets within 3G or 4G coverage, it is interrogated by the shore-side database which mines it for the information necessary to generate the reports.

By Stevie Knight