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Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 83 / 13
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High-speed monitoring aboard luxury mega yacht

A complex automation solution implemented for a large luxury yacht, recently launched at Germany’s Bremer Lürssen shipyard, relies on 125 high-performance industrial Ethernet controllers. The system provides an ability to collect, process and visualize thousands of signals that control the mega yacht’s operation.

Distributed programmable Ethernet controllers with PLC functionality are a key pillar of the yacht’s automation solution.

INDUSTRIAL ETHERNET IS THE CENTER of the high-speed monitoring and control system deployed on a new luxury mega yacht. The system uses network communications to implement PLC functionality and also integrate with a web server that coordinate operation of 125 automation controllers distributed throughout the ship.

At 100 meters long and equipped with engines providing tens of thousands of HP, the yacht represents a new high in design and commissioning for the Bremer Lürssen shipyard, a leader in constructing mega yachts up to 60 meters in length. The automation system was designed, planned and commissioned by besecke, a subsidiary of the Lürssen shipyard.

For the luxurious mega yacht, the bar was set extremely high in terms of innovation, customization and technical perfection, making the automation project a challenge even for a specialist like besecke. Due to its proximity to the Lürssen shipyard, the company’s “Ship Automation” business unit is primarily based at the Bremen headquarters. Its Ship Automation portfolio includes design and construction of switch cabinets and central control systems, development of application-specific software for control units, a proprietary central monitoring control system (MCS), control of the power distribution system, onboard safety monitoring, as well as technical support for the lifespan of a ship.

Advancing to new dimensions

A large number of signals need to be collected, processed and visualized on the mega yacht. The areas to be monitored and controlled include the ship engine, generators, door positions, hydrant valves, fire alarms, National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) data, security, fill levels, operating hours, alarm services, wastewater, helicopter landing pad, anchor winch, power management (EPMS), HVAC, video surveillance (CCTV), as well as maintenance and entertainment systems.

When combined, more than 10,000 raw signals must be processed for the mega yacht. The WAGO controllers directly collect approximately 5,000 signals, and the remaining 5,000 signals are recorded via specialty communication modules. Each controller records 700 signals, which is the highest data volume generated from both main engines and generators. Within the MCS, approximately 10 variables (e.g., warnings, color changes or service messages) are created from a raw signal by a pressure or temperature sensor. From the 10,000 recorded measured data values, a total of about 100,000 variables flow into besecke’s central MCS for further processing.

To ensure the continuous availability of this huge amount of data, the controllers require extremely high-performance CPUs.

All recorded measurement data is collected and visualized in a central MCS monitoring system. Up to four subviews can be displayed on-screen simultaneously. The diagram above shows fire-fighting pumps and hydrant valves.

“In general, the trend in luxury yacht automation is toward a constantly growing number of signals to be processed. Furthermore, customers expect more and more information to be visualized via a central monitoring system, “said Henry Fischer, sales manager at besecke. “This in turn requires increasing computing power, without increasing the dimensions of the control units.”

Keeping flood of data under control

The 125 programmable Ethernet controllers (750-881/882) are used as distributed control units, and form the basis for the yacht’s automation solution. The controllers are mounted close to the measuring points, minimizing the amount of individual wiring between the I/O modules on the automation level and the sensors/actuators in the field.

Both PLC functionality and an integrated web server make the controllers fully independent. These modular units simplify configuration, start-up and operation, as well as maintenance and future expansions. These units also increase reliability and availability, since controller failures will not impact the overall system. This eliminates the need for a complex, redundant server configuration.

The on-board automation configuration is based on a 1 Gbit Ethernet fiber optic ring. A ring switch interfaces 100 Mbit copper cables to the individual controllers, creating a uniform Ethernet configuration from the field up to the control level. The controllers feature a two-port switch or two independent Ethernet ports, simplifying the creation of line topologies.

Numerous systems and interfaces are integrated into the central MCS. The controllers provide the collected measurement data and alarm messages to the monitoring stations’ display via an OPC server, which is six times faster than commercially available products. Cross-communication between controllers is performed via Modbus/UDP, with each device serving as a master or slave. CODESYS codes can be automatically created from an Excel parameter list using a program developed by besecke. Alarms are processed by the controllers in a standardized manner, making them less prone to errors.

Fischer said that system’s components have been extremely robust and fail-safe, and the I/O system’s modularity permits easy and fast retrofitting of individual modules. “This is important for us, since requirements may evolve during a project spanning 1.5 years, from order to delivery. Due to the wide range of signals, we opted for fast Ethernet controllers, which despite their compact design, provide high computing power and feature two Ethernet ports. The high-performance CPUs were a basic prerequisite for implementing our monitoring system,” he added.

Control from bridge to engine room

Modular and fieldbus-independent I/O provides an effective automation solution for shipbuilding, and the system has demonstrated its suitability for marine applications aboard various Lürssen yachts. The components possess all required international shipbuilding approvals (e.g., GL, LR, DNV, BV, RINA, KR, NK and BSH) for direct operation on combustion engines and compressors, as well as near the compass. Therefore, system components enable a wide range of automation and control solutions from the engine room up to the bridge.

In addition to the technical features of the technology components, good cooperation and proactive support also contributed to the long-term, close partnership between WAGO and besecke. Fischer said that Industrial Ethernet offers a compelling solution compared to other fieldbus systems used in yacht automation applications, and the future continues to call for open, non-proprietary solutions.

Jörg Schomacker is a Regional Sales Manager for WAGO Kontakttechnik GmbH & Co. KG.


Source: Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 83 / 13
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