Rolls-Royce developing integrated DPNews // March 28, 2003
Dynamic positioning (DP) systems are becoming more and more widely used. The offshore industry leads the way, as operations in deep water tip the balance of advantage from mooring to keeping station by power.
Rolls-Royce is now developing its own DP technology to interface among other things with the global positioning system (GPS) and the various proprietary position reference systems. The development is a logical extension of the existing Rolls-Royce product portfolio, which already includes the thrusters, rudders, propellers and their associated control systems that are the means of putting the vessel in the desired location and heading and keeping it there against the forces of wind, waves and currents.
The DP systems fits in with the company's strategy in marine automation, based on the 'common control platform', elements of which are already being applied in MT30 gas turbine and Bergen diesel engine control systems and in integration of propulsion control systems, such as the new joystick which will go into service shortly. It will also use Rolls-Royce Marine know-how from the propulsion and automation products that are at present interfaced with DP controls from third parties.
The initial focus for DP products will be in the offshore industry. Detailed discussions have been taking place with key customers to ensure that the equipment will meet their future requirements. Options will range from single IMO DP Class 1 class systems to sophisticated redundant systems meeting the IMO DP Class 2 and 3 requirements. A module-based approach is being adopted for both the software and hardware components, which will increase flexibility and allow for system upgrades through the vessel's life.
Rolls-Royce says a major strength that the company brings to DP is its long familiarity with designing and equipping vessels built to the various IMO DP classes. Propulsors and manoeuvring systems on dynamic positioned vessels lead a hard life, operatingtypically for several thousand hours a year at rapidly varying part load. The Rolls-Royce DP package will be fully integrated from the interface with the reference systems to the final thrust vectors from the thrusters - integrated so that the hydrodynamic, mechanical, electrical, electronic, hardware and software elements work in the greatest possible harmony. This opens the way for increased fuel economy and reduced wear and tear, since thrusters and other equipment can be used in the most efficientway.
In practical terms, Rolls-Royce DP core technology will comprise an operator workstation, operator panel and graphical display linked to the main control cabinet and controller by the control network. This will interface to third-party equipment including integrated bridge systems, sensors and position reference systems. It will then send instructions to, and receive feedback from, the power plant, propulsors and manoeuvring equipment. A further set of interfaces can exchange data with support, monitoring and advisory systems. These may include consequence monitoring, data logging and report tools, vessel simulators and health monitoring systems.
Any of the commonly used sensor systems can be used with the Rolls-Royce DP system. Sensor inputs can include heading measurements, roll and pitch data, inertial navigation systems and wind measurements. Position reference data can be derived from satellite, hydro-acoustic, laser radar, surface/radio, taut wire and other proprietary systems.
Rolls-Royce has put its accumulated marine knowledge into a series of sophisticated analysis, simulation and design tools that enable complete systems to be engineered. These are beginning to have a practical impact in efficient configuration of ship systems and evaluation of different operation scenarios, and will also play an important role in DP development, not least in services to customers such as operator training and familiarisation courses.