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Marine electronics

From the bridge to the engine room

Whether it's a luxury yacht, a cruiser or a specialty ship, diesel-electric drive systems provide benefits wherever electrical energy consumption is high. To design innovative drive solutions, SAM Electronics relies on Wago's I/O-System 750.

Cruise Liner “Seabourn Odyssey” (Photo: SAM Electronics)

DIESEL-ELECTRIC DRIVES OFFER advantages, particularly for cruisers, yachts and specialty ships. The drives run quietly and with minimal vibration, can be incorporated as redundant systems to provide exceptional reliability, while providing maximum maneuverability and a high level of automation. In order to prevent faults and operating errors, it is crucial to monitor and control all functions and key parameters. Therefore, a variety of on-board, process-related data must be collected from decentralized nodes: What are the capacities for the different propeller and thruster motors? How many operating hours can they run? Are the motor shafts sufficiently lubricated? How do the temperatures for the transformers and cooling fluids relate to each other? Answering such questions allows drive control to be streamlined, while increasing system reliability.

Cruise Liner “Seabourn Odyssey” (Photo: SAM Electronics)

In order to provide absolute reliability, SAM Electronics, a company located in Hamburg, employs a redundant diesel-electric drive solution: Conventional mechanical diesel systems usually operate with diesel motors, which are coupled to a propeller; diesel-electric drives, on the other hand, benefit from diesel motors powering any propeller. The motors drive the generators, which feed electrical power to a common bus bar that supplies electrical drives and all other loads. Therefore, the availability of a drive is independent of the availability of an individual diesel motor. This advantage can provide a ship with maximum maneuverability — even in extreme weather or environmental conditions. At the same time, only as many diesel motors are connected to the on-board power supply as required by the current energy demand. This economizes diesel motor operation, while enabling the motors to operate at peak efficiency. This solution is used for a wide variety of motor sizes ranging from 1 MW to 21 MW. Each drive is typically equipped with its own frequency inverter and operates independently, making data exchange between these units and the central unit all the more important.

Cruise Liner “Seabourn Odyssey” (Photo: SAM Electronics)

Relying on uniform standards

SAM Electronics relies on the Wago-I/O-System 750 to collect all relevant data from the drive system and remotely control the system from the Engine Control Room (ECR) or from the bridge. With this system, each node can be configured to meet individual requirements. The system offers modules for various potentials and analog signal forms. The 1-, 2-, 4-, 8- and 16-channel modules can be combined as required, providing granularity and flexibility. This modular design leads to compact devices with select modules accommodating up to 16 channels in a 12-mm wide housing.

This modular design is also reflected in the fact that the system offers appropriate fieldbus controllers and couplers for standard protocols. A variety of fieldbus systems is used in shipbuilding applications depending on the level within the ship. While communication is mainly performed via Ethernet on the bridge, data from the ECR system is primarily exchanged via Modbus or CAN. The EIA-485 interface is also used in many areas.

Cruise Liner “Seabourn Odyssey” (Photo: SAM Electronics)

“It is a part of our strategy to rely on standardized components wherever possible,” explains Rainer Genilke, Project Manager for drive systems at SAM Electronics. “It's extremely advantageous for us to flexibly tap all important data in the entire drive system using the Wago-I/O-System and a handful of components — across all types of ships and drive capacities. This aspect plays an important role not only in planning and inventory management, but also for the spare part package that is carried aboard.”

Flexibility from ship design to launch

Adjustments and changes are often required during the one-to-two-year construction phase of a ship. Electrical systems also need to be adapted and extended if another type of onboard system interface or additional components are required. This can be performed using the modular Wago-I/O-System, while facilitating the long-term planning required for the control cabinet.

Furthermore, Genilke appreciates the fact that distributed units can be simply configured using Wago's remote I/O solution. Configuration is performed using the I/O-Check commissioning tool, providing evaluation of a system’s wiring and functionality without installing the system's control unit. Power supply and fieldbus cables then just need to be connected and the system is ready for operation.

Cruise Liner “Seabourn Odyssey” (Photo: SAM Electronics)

“Our new concept provides us with insight into all relevant drive system data via satellites after release by the crew,” explains Genilke. "If disturbances occur while at sea, remote fault diagnostics can be performed directly from the office to determine whether a service team is required or whether spare parts must be sent to nearest port."

SAM Electronics offers solutions including energy production and distribution, ship communication and navigation, maritime automation, safety and monitoring systems, as well as consumer and drive technology. The company's portfolio is comprised of smaller packages on up to integrated systems and turnkey solutions including planning, engineering, production and on-board installations.

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