Whatever commitment shipping is ready to make to ECDIS, two radically different Simrad ECDIS solutions are now available to ensure that it will comply with international rules.
The right product for the right application is a familiar claim from the marine equipment supplier but, when compliance with International Maritime Organization requirements is at stake, it is a call demanding an immediate response.
Compliance with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention on Electronic Chart Data and Information Systems (ECDIS) is now a matter of urgency. The mandatory phase-in for all internationally trading vessels to be fitted with an ECDIS using Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs) reached a watershed on July 1, 2015. After that date, all tankers above 3, 000gt have been required to make ECDIS provisions in time of their first subsequent survey.
By July 1, 2016, the requirement will apply to all 50, 000gt-plus cargo ships built after July 1, 2013, with the progressive enforcement continuing, to take in all cargo vessels of above 10, 000gt by July 1, 2018.
Meeting the rules carries with it the need for mariners to be trained specifically in the systems onboard a given vessel, but also for ECDIS-equipped ships to have back-up arrangements for navigation should the main ECDIS be compromised. While there are sound safety-based arguments supporting these requirements, both call for an additional commitment for owners, beyond the usual requirements when regulators impose new technology.
Widespread uptake of ECDIS to date makes clear its advantages over paper charts in the digital age, including timely chart updating and the ability to overlay linked systems. However, many owners have preferred to give traditional navigating skill precedence over technology-based solutions, while others will always wait for enforcement to act. One result is that a significant portion of owners in 2015-2016 need to comply urgently.
Recognising the need for immediate action, shipboard electronic systems supplier Simrad recently launch a ‘Zero Downtime’ paperless navigation offer, to deliver three of its newly launched Simrad ECDIS E5024 packages for the price of two. The type-approved system was introduced in 2015, and offers an entirely new user interface that simplifies usage whilst meeting IMO requirements.
The ‘Triple System’ Zero Downtime offer is worldwide, and allows owners to keep a ‘spare’ ECDIS shoreside or onboard ship that can be swapped out easily so that the vessel is always SOLAS-compliant.
“ECDIS was made mandatory for safety reasons, but ship owners are also entitled to expect paperless navigation to be attractive on commercial grounds”, says Jose Herrero, Managing Director Commercial Marine Division, Navico. “A combination of competitive pricing and the Zero Downtime offer covering Simrad ECDIS E5024 is the company’s answer in a market where compliance is now critical. At this point in the enforcement cycle, it is crucial that owner choices include a solution that achieves lowest total cost of ownership.”
The Simrad E5024 is available in 24” widescreen display and has the option of radar overlay with Simrad radars via Ethernet cable connection. It operates with Navtor chart support for SENC, S-63, and S-57 charts from UKHO (AVCS), PRIMAR, IC-ENC and NOAA ENC.
“Simrad E5024 ECDIS is the ideal solution for vessels required to retrofit ECDIS at the lowest cost of ownership. It is modular and can be installed simply in either single-station or dual-station (PLECDIS) configurations. It features a wireless trackball controller with on-screen keyboard, offering quick access tiles and simplified route planning with drag-and-drop manipulation of waypoints.”
Herrero believes that the Simrad E5024 will also find a ready market among non-mandated ships, where owners have wanted to move to paperless navigation but have been put off by cost, due to its straightforward installation and use, as well as intuitive training routines. The new product is also priced more attractively.
However, these attributes do not equate to lower standards on compliance, Hererro emphasises. “Owner compliance is the issue at hand, and our responsibility as a supplier is to ensure that owners have the solutions available for them to comply right now.”
In fact, Simrad ECDIS E5024 complements the feature-rich Simrad MARIS900 ECDIS, the established ECDIS brand that has already achieved a significant share in the newbuilding sector. Both systems are available worldwide and supported by a global network of service engineers.
“Our ECDIS solutions have been developed to meet our customers’ needs. Earlier this year, we migrated the Simrad MARIS ECDIS900 MK5 and MK15 to an entirely new high-performance hardware platform with updated software, ” says Herrero.
The Simrad MARIS ECDIS900 MK5 and MK15 are based on a standard Windows interface using common controls including toolbars, tabbed panels, hotkeys, and right-click context or ‘pop-up’ menus. Both facilitate universal radar overlay, multiple layers display, additional route planning functions, precise navigation tools and multiple add-on functions. Add-ons include route optimization, dead man alarm, BNWAS interface, approved TCS and conning display.
“The system has its own integrated chart management solution, which includes Pay-As-You-Sail and is distributed and managed via email or internet, through our MBA for ship chart management, and the MCP customer portal for ship and fleet monitoring, ” says Herero.
“The MK5 and MK15 give shipping owners the flexibility to meet bridge design constraints and comply with additional regulations set by Flag States, Port State Control, and the OCIMF Ship Inspection Report Programme (SIRE).”
Existing customers who have already opted for the Simrad MARIS ECDIS900 option, or new customers preferring its broader range of add-ons, can be assured that the type-specific training expertise is available to support its wider use, Herrero adds. “For this solution, training is available online, via computer-based training and at 127 certified learning institutes, in line with IMO requirements.
“The period between 2015 and 2018 will be one where the remainder of the IMO fleet will have to be made ECDIS-compliant, without exception. Our job as a supplier is to make compliance as efficient and palatable as possible.”