RH Marine introduces network of the future in yacht building industry

28/01/2021

RH Marine introduces the next generation of system integration for the yacht building sector. With the development of a new digital network for all systems on board, kilometres of signal cables can be saved. This makes yachts lighter, the control and monitoring more efficient and the addition of new functionalities easier. In addition, the system enables the storage and analysis of data, which can be used for predictive maintenance of yachts.

RH Marine has tested and further developed this innovation in recent years in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Navy. It can now be supplied to the shipyards as a future-proof system.

Reducing cost and weight
Currently, most systems on board communicate via conventional signal cables. By smart use of modern Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) components, which mainly communicate over Ethernet, a significant amount of signal cables can be saved. To make this possible, a flexible and scalable network is needed. The traditional signal cables are then replaced by a small amount of fibre optic cables. “The amount of cables on board the ship will be reduced enormously. This saves on costs and weight,” says RH Marine Technical Product Manager Michiel Post.

Improved efficiency control and monitoring
Another benefit is that an extra computer or PLC no longer needs to be installed for every new application or function. The IIoT components no longer only communicate with the components that were connected via a signal cable, but also communicate with all components and systems on board via the network. In this way, changes in the functionality of the ship are possible by implementing a software change. As a result, it is no longer necessary to modify the hardware. In addition, all systems will run virtualized on two or more large servers in the future. All this makes the control and monitoring of ships a lot more efficient, software updates a lot easier and means a saving on the total costs for material. Because all information can now be found on the network, remote assistance from shore is also easier.

Data-driven predictive maintenance
The modern IIoT components often contain more data points than their traditional predecessors. By collecting and analysing this data, better insights of the status of the ship are obtained and smart prediction algorithms can be developed. As a result, yacht owners can switch from corrective maintenance to predictive maintenance and only have to carry out maintenance when it is really necessary. This increases the availability and uptime of the ships at a lower cost.

An important topic in control and monitoring, as well as in data-driven maintenance, is the security and integrity of the data and data connections. For that reason, RH Marine also focusses on cyber security as an integral part of the system solution.


Image by RH Marine

Test setup
To test the system, RH Marine has built a test setup. The virtual bridge has been incorporated into the setup, but in addition a number of common IoT components have been used. Also the AMCS has been integrated in the setup. This solution can be provided while maintaining the required class certification. “We only used a fraction of the normal hardware there. The system was a lot smaller and more flexible and it made no technical difference in the functionality,” says Post.

Separate branch for yachts
RH Marine has over fifty years of experience in yacht building and long partnerships with long-term partners and leading yacht builders. In addition to the complete electrical installation, the maritime system integrator supplies the Rhodium bridge, various electrical and automation systems and its own Alarm, Monitoring and Control System (AMCS). In recent years RH Marine has applied a strong focus to its own portfolio and has adapted the organization accordingly with the establishment of two strong, separate branches. One for the yachting industry and one for the navy. “Both branches have their own management and market approach to help our customers in the most specific way. Technological developments are dealt with on a company-wide scale. This set-up helps us to make new innovations quickly available to our clients and to share knowledge and experiences”, explains Commercial Director Yachts Gerard Hoekstra of RH Marine. “The market has grown strongly in recent years and is still growing. And as RH Marine we hope to benefit from that together with our clients by sticking to our quality and focusing on the long term.”

Next step towards zero emissions
RH Marine wants to further improve the relationship with long-term partners and focuses on both new construction and refits. RH Marine also strives to make ships more sustainable and to reduce emissions from yachts to zero. The system integrator is a leading supplier of electrical and automation systems to hybrid ships. Last year, the company installed the first marine approved micro-turbine for on-board power generation during a yacht refit. This generator produces less vibration and noise than a conventional diesel generator, is smaller and lighter, requires less maintenance and has lower emissions. As a result, it can meet the strict IMO Tier-III standards, which are coming into force in an increasing number of ports and coastal waters. Hoekstra: “This is an example of the application of new technologies as a system integrator. This fits very well with our hybrid philosophy. Our Energy Management System (EMS) enables us to put any alternative energy source on board. Thus RH Marine is taking a step towards ‘zero emission shipping’, one of the three important pillars on which we are working with the yards.”

RH Marine press release