Today’s maritime vessels have to be equipped with a range of sensors to ensure they meet the strict regulations, especially when it comes to safety. Traditionally, these systems are disconnected and create information overload and extra work for personnel at critical times. HENSOLDT has addressed this challenge and developed the Integrated Bridge System Manta NEO, which provides the latest generation bridge system with fusion technologies as standard.
While Integrated Bridge Systems (IBS) have been around for years, the development of such technology has often been conservative and not introduced many revolutionary changes. This traditional approach resulted in adding yet more hardware or upgrading software that does not take into account how users interact with the systems installed on the vessel.
This has led to vessels with disparate systems with little in terms of integration or data fusion. Personnel on a bridge – no matter the size of the vessel – will have to operate many systems including navigation radars, electronic chart systems, dynamic positioning system, speed logs, echo sounders, gyrocompasses, as well as alarm systems.
While these systems are vital for the safe operation of a vessel and are often required by maritime law, it can lead to situations where crew members suffer from information overload from different screens and interfaces, resulting in poor decision-making, incorrect prioritisation of tasks, and a lack of overall situational awareness in critical phases of the ship’s operation.
HENSOLDT UK – a leading supplier of radars, electronic chart systems and voyage data recorders (VDRs) – has looked to address this with the development of an IBS that utilises the latest thinking in terms of display technology for navigation, radars and electronic chart systems and human-machine interfaces.
“The workstation or display that the navigator is looking at gets cluttered, as there is so much information available to them,” explained Flemming Haase, Head of Commercial Marine Systems for HENSOLDT.
“We have looked to develop a clean bridge system, so e.g if it is a radar display, we use the whole display to show radar information, but there is also the capability to pop up additional information if required by the navigator."
Head of Commercial Marine Systems HENSOLDT UK
This is in order for the user to get the right level of data for the task they need to undertake during navigation, for example collision avoidance or route planning.
HENSOLDT is renowned for its innovation and user-friendly designs, and Manta NEO is no different. The company has spent many hours speaking to crews and understanding their challenges and how to solve them, which has influenced the approach to this new product. By using data fusion technologies, Manta NEO ensures that the right information is presented to the crew members, at the right time and from the appropriate system required.
“Manta NEO is very easy to use and operate; we do not use a lot of menus and submenus, which can become confusing,” said Haase. “We are gaining all the essential information at a glance, and that is the philosophy of Manta NEO - an innovative display so the navigator can prioritise tasks and merge information.
The software that underpins Manta NEO is a key part of this new IBS philosophy. HENSOLDT UK is moving away from traditional operating systems such as Windows, and instead utilising Android-based systems that are incredibly intuitive and user friendly. Most people are already experienced with the Android-based system because of personal devices, and as a result it requires little time for crews to familiarise themselves with the system. In the near future, users will also be able to navigate to different screens and modes through a simple-to-use “app” structure, making workflows much more efficient.
This design philosophy improves the overall Human-Machine Interface (HMI), and customers can also choose from a range of smart, touchscreen display solutions that meet their requirements. This can be 24” or 27” smart displays for individual operators, all the way up to 55” displays for larger vessels, enabling multi-crew operations including route planning. These smart displays also incorporate their own processor units, reducing the space required and installation times.
The newer and more efficient Android-based system also has the added benefits of increased security, especially in terms of cyber security, as well as the faster processing of data for areas such as fusion. With a Manta NEO system, it is also possible to connect remotely and diagnose faults by analysing the vessel’s data without an engineer having to be on board. This saves money, especially if the alternative would be to fly out a service engineer to the vessel in a very remote part of the world.
“There are times when a service engineer is sent onboard and it was a simple failure that could have been identified and solved by the crew on board,” said Haase.
As a result of its design and modularity, Manta NEO can be utilised on a range of commercial vessels, including large work boats, super yachts, cruise vessels, merchant vessels and even the emerging area of autonomous vessels. The International Maritime Organization is closely looking at Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS), especially from a regulatory perspective and the operational requirements for a remote control centre/station.
The IMO has also set out a strategy to reduce international shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, which is likely to see a boom in more efficient commercial vessels in the coming years.
HENSOLDT is already proposing a total package based on Manta NEO to shipbuilders that are manufacturing new build vessels for customers. This package can include the modern IBS described above, as well as a new X band radar being developed by HENSOLDT´s UK unit or the existing SharpEye S band solid-state navigation radars that the company is renowned across the world for – this is a key differentiator. HENSOLDT also works closely with third-party suppliers for other systems to ensure that integration is as seamless as possible.
As well as new build vessels, Manta NEO is also highly suitable for vessel retrofits where operators are looking to upgrade certain elements of their bridge systems and equipment to meet modern standards. Whether it is existing vessels or new ships being built, Manta NEO is future proofed so that it can meet the requirements of commercial shipping now, and well into the future.