Operate a vessel from anywhere onboard
Controlling your workboat remotely away from the helm is becoming increasingly popular and one of the latest companies to enter this market is the Spanish company NaoControl with their Ship Controller system.
Their handheld control units allow a vessel to be operated from anywhere on board which not only allows the skipper to assist with mooring when short-handed but also allows a much closer view of manoeuvring operations.
The Ship Controller comes in four basic versions but each of these can be tailored to the requirements of individual vessels. The simplest version the 701 has controls for both engines and a bow thruster and is aimed at the requirements of a vessel when mooring. From this basic model the complexity of control increases up to the 750 model that offers steering, autopilot and windlass control as well as a display of navigation information.
The control units are handheld sized and are fitted with a lanyard so that they do not get lost. They are fully waterproof and are powered by an internal battery that on the more sophisticated version can be recharged wirelessly. The remote control unit is linked wirelessly to the interface units and for larger vessels constructed from metal, this wireless link can be reinforced with a series on remote antenna to ensure continuous connection.
The company can supply a range of inter-connecting units that will match the requirements of most modern systems. These modules are designed for simple installation and to meet the requirements of older vessels special modules can inter-connect with mechanical systems.
The LED display on the 750 unit can be programmed to display a wide variety of information ranging from depth to an anchor cable counter as well as the normal heading, depth and speed. The sensitivity of the engine speed control can be varied to allow more power when there are strong winds and currents to deal with. The controls have been designed to be intuitive to operate so that the user can operate the control by feel instead of constantly having to use a visual reference.
All of the units in the system have been designed to provide a high level of security and this includes the CANbus links which is a tried and tested system. Alarms can also be built into the system so that the operator gets instant warning of any loss of connection to the system or to any malfunction of the units that are being controlled.
With the increasing focus on enclosed wheelhouses in modern design these remote controllers allow skippers to control the vessel much closer to the action. This can improve the safety of many operations particularly those that have to be carried out in the open sea.
By Dag Pike
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