Home » MECSS 2015: more than a success!
A view from the conference  auditorium

A view from the conference auditorium

Delivering integrated, dependable, safe and reliable systems was the overall theme of MECSS 2015, the Marine Electrical and Control Systems Safety Conference, held in Bristol, UK at the end of November, which attracted delegates from Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, UK, and USA.

Four topics shaped MECSS 2015 – prominent hazards; emerging technology; whole system verification, integration and regulation; and operation, maintenance and training/human factors. These led Kevin Daffey, MECSS 2015 Conference Chairman, and Global Head of Electrical Power and Control Systems, Rolls-Royce plc to explain: “For me the key takeaway, from all the papers and our discussions, is that for all aspects of equipment and systems design in marine electrical and control applications, it is important that the requirements are clearly defined, captured and understood by all stakeholders upfront, so that the best design solution can be achieved to address the operational and safety needs.

“The statement made, during MECSS, that security (cyber or otherwise) and safety aspects should be considered together, also struck me as a key item for us all to consider in our system designs going forward.”

Organised by FIGS Events Limited on behalf of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), MECSS 2015 had Lloyd’s Register as its Principal Sponsor; GE Marine was Associate Sponsor; and the two-day event was supported by Green4Sea; Safety4Sea; The IET; and Trinity House.

Copies of the proceedings automatically reach all speakers and delegates and are available via the IMarEST website.  The planning of the next event in the series, MECSS 2017, is already beginning. It will be held in the Autumn of 2017 almost certainly in Glasgow.

The Chairman’s summary
Looking back, Kevin Daffey gives a summary of the conference:

“Moritz Krijgsman, from HyPS Hybrid Power Systems in the Netherlands delivered a keynote speech that set several challenges from his unique perspective supplying complex and novel hybrid power and propulsion systems for high value yachts which these themes attempted to answer

  • Power electronics particularly EMI and common mode currents
  • Batteries – how they can be controlled and what new hazards they present
  • DC technology – how to handle faults and stability
  • Water cooled equipment
  • ICT – cybersecurity and wireless devices.

“It was fascinating to see HyPS bringing to marine, off the shelf automotive components with minimum adaption for the marine market to keep costs low, but still maintaining the safety and integrity of the system.

“For our prominent hazard theme we addressed four important areas.  Bob Oates from Rolls-Royce gave us some sombre messages that

  • The cyber security risk in marine is increasing as more systems are automated and connectivity to shore increased
  • Safety critical systems that are not secure are not safe.“However the good news was that securing control systems can be challenging but by putting in place the correct processes and cultural changes the threat is diminished.
“Kees Posthumus from the Defence Materiel Organisation in the Netherlands gave us some valuable tips on how to use COTS electrical equipment in naval ships but pointed out some pitfalls and the need to carefully specify the context in which it operates.“Arc flash was admirably discussed by Alan Jenkins, BAE Systems Submarines and generated quite a debate.  Putting it into the context of managing the hazard for submarines is probably the most difficult challenge known to the marine industry.“Bernard Twomey, Lloyd’s Register’s Global Head of Electrotechnical Systems explained that the hazard that has kept him awake at night is insulation failures of HV machines.  It was great to see key industry players, a class society and academia working together to understand a costly problem for the sector and come up with solutions.  A problem which can cost $1m per failure to rectify. Proposed rule changes by Lloyd’s are now, to adopt partial discharge measurements prior to, or during sea trials, as well as later in the equipment’s life, and at survey to look for trends as well as justifying insulation systems based on international standards.“We then moved on to the emerging technologies that may present hazards to marine engineering.  So Cees Meijer presented the RH Marine Smart DC grid using ‘current routers’, which operate in less than 800ns and fully control fault currents.  They are pushing Classification societies to understand and certify their systems.“To complement the RH Marine system there was a paper from Andrew Allan from Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd on their work with the MOD on modelling and simulating DC power systems.  Their work supported solid-state breakers and converter foldback schemes to control fault currents. Ultimately they are looking at how modelling and simulation can support the integration of directed energy weapons onto a naval platform.“We then had two papers on Hardware In the Loop (HIL).  Kristine Bruun Ludvigsen from Marine Cybernetics discussed their experience of doing independent HIL testing of DP control system software for the offshore industry and how it can be used for all control systems on complex MODU vessels.  Dr Campbell Booth, a self-confessed academic from the University of Strathclyde, posed us some useful points on sharing of knowledge and use of all available information in system design, suggesting that we challenge technical arguments and standards and that when undertaking modelling, the knowledge of ‘expected’ results should influence the review of any simulation, don’t just believe the results.

“Milton Korn from the American Bureau of Shipping discussed the application of energy storage systems to optimise heavy marine electrical systems, citing that there are multiple ways of applying energy storage into an electrical system, but this needs to be carefully specified to ensure maintenance of QoPS and keep system transients within the capability of generators.

Day Two
“On Day Two we considered whole system verification, integration and regulation. We heard from Berend Evenblij from TNO in the Netherlands who spoke to us further concerning the use of DC grid solutions as an alternative to AC solutions. Berend highlighted the sort of considerations that need to be taken into account when comparing alternatives, looking at the type and size of possible energy storage solutions and the need to align them with the operation requirements and profile of a vessel, to achieve the best cost versus benefit solution.

Dr Robert Meggs from BMT Defence Services Ltd then took us through the implications of implementing an IT earthing system on a low voltage marine platform, noting that it cannot be assumed to be “unearthed” and therefore safe, but instead system design considerations need to be assessed to determine the best solution to manage the system earthing, fault detection and protection, in order to address the possible personnel and equipment hazards presented.

“We then heard from Jan-Kees van der Ven from RH Marine who presented work that has been undertaken to assess ways of addressing electromagnetic compatibility on naval platforms through the application of best practices, rather than simply adhering strictly to existing standards which may not be appropriate for individual applications. We heard how this work is being taken forward as proposals for changes in the guidance provided in the Lloyd’s Naval Ship Rules.

“Finally in this session Angus Moodie from Rolls-Royce Marine Electrical Systems gave a thorough and compelling walk through the guiding principles of system engineering, focusing on the need to undertake thorough requirements capture as early as possible in a project, ensuring that all stakeholders are engaged in the requirements discussion. The subsequent discussion further enforced the need for a system engineering approach that considers safety requirements and their implementation, to be adopted throughout the project lifecycle, allowing change to be better identified and managed.

“Our final session focused on operation, maintenance, training/human factors.
This session led off with a presentation from Stein Susrud from Kongsberg Maritime in Norway which described the existing ship to shore diagnostic capability that Kongsberg Martime are implementing on commercial marine platforms. Stein’s presentation highlighted the need to optimise solutions to achieve the functional requirements of the remote system, while at the same time ensuring an acceptable level of security and safety, through the implementation of multiple layers of security measures, tying our discussions back to that of cyber security as presented during the first session of the conference.

“Dr David Garrity, STS Defence Ltd then provided an insight into the ongoing work of the IConIC project to develop an operational prototype of an autonomous diesel engine monitoring system, with an integrated ship-to-shore communication system, with the target of providing increased availability of equipment through identification of issues prior to failure.

“The discussions then turned to the use of Bridge Alert Management with Dr Peter van der Klugt from RH Marine in the Netherlands presenting thoughts on changes to the rules for alert management on the bridge and the part that members of industry and in particular equipment manufacturers need to play in determining the correct level of alerts to allow operators to operate their equipment and systems in the most effective and safe manner.

“This led nicely into the presentation delivered by Joanne Stokes, Lloyd’s Register, on the benefits of managing human performance and factors through early and continued integration into the design of the equipment and system. Joanne highlighted the need to understand the different and varied human factor requirements that need to be considered and how Human Factors can and will be applied in the design, and that the buy-in of all stakeholders is important to achieving successful implementation.

“In our final presentation Jason Butler from EA Technology Limited talked to us about methods of undertaking PD measurements that are non-intrusive to the equipment to allow assessment of possible degradation prior to failure. Jason discussed the effects of PD and how they can be monitored on-board ships and how the results of monitoring could be used to assist maintainers and avoid potential hazards. Jason plans to produce a paper on this subject in the future to give further details on the effects of PD and how it can be detected within operation equipment.”

Further information
Further information on all aspects of the November event is at www.mecss.org.uk and available frommecss@figsevents.co.uk; or +44 (0)20 8304 2373/+44 (0)1525 876146.

What is IMarEST?

IMarEST is the international professional body and learned society for all marine professionals. With over 16, 000 members in 128 countries, the IMarEST is the first Institute to bring together marine engineers, marine scientists and marine technologists into one international multi-disciplinary professional body.

In addition to a wide range of services, including publishing The Marine Professional, the Institute organises learned society events for its members and the wider industry, these include: the Engine As A Weapon International Symposia (EAAW); Marine Electrical and Control Systems Safety Conference (MECSS) and the International Naval Engineering Conference and Exhibition (INEC); the learned society events are organised by FIGS Events Limited on behalf of IMarEST.

The experts behind MECSS
The Technical Advisory Committee comprises a group of experts from industry, academia and the military with the aim of developing and steering the technical programme for MECSS 2015.

Chairman: Kevin Daffey,  Rolls-Royce
• Dr Campbell Booth, University of Strathclyde
• Paul Eaton, GE Power Conversion
• Andrew Edmondson, BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines
• Duncan Gould, Disney Cruise Line
• Pim Janse, Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding
• Milton Korn, American Bureau of Shipping
• Jamie McCarthy, Rolls-Royce Marine Electrical Systems
• Kees Posthumus, Defence Materiel Organisation, the Netherlands
• Jeremy Richardson, Shell Shipping and Maritime Technology
• Peter Rogers, Wärtsilä SAM Electronics GmbH
• C/O (SE) Mark Royston-Tonks RFA, Ministry of Defence, UK
• Mel Scott, QinetiQ
• Bernard Twomey, Lloyd’s Register
• Richard Vie FREng
• Phil White, Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
• Shaun White, BP Shipping Limited

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