Cathelco are world leaders in providing anti-fouling technology for large pipe lines and vessels, from luxury yachts to the largest super tankers and container ships. Their existing system had worked well for many years but they wanted to design a new system to provide the latest technologies and to improve its appearance to maintain their place as a world leader in this specialist field.
The basic principals behind anti-fouling technology are relatively simple and consist of passing an electrical current passed between an anode of copper or aluminium and a ships hull or pipe structure. This creates ions that produce an environment that is hostile to the build up of organisms and supresses corrosion.
IBEX was commissioned to provide the complete electronic hardware, embedded software and enclosure design.
Design PCB (printed circuit board) modules using surface mount technology for volume manufacture and to miniaturise the overall size of the complete system.
Design a new computerised power output module to provide a pair of digitally adjustable high current outputs, used to connect to each of the copper and aluminium anodes. Include a remote control input to allow automatic switchover for different operating modes (for example when a ship is in salt water or fresh water). Voltage and current sensing is incorporated on each output for live logging and alarm condition detection. Design using switch mode electronics for energy efficiency and reduced heat dissipation.
Design a new computerised control module to provide low voltage power to the rest of the system and digital control of the power output modules. Provide an Ethernet connection to allow the control module to be connected to a ships network and the internet via a ships satellite connection.
Design the Ethernet connectivity to allow the control module to connect to the internet to send and receive email. When Cathelco wish to connect to a specific system they simply send an email to it. The next time the control unit of that system checks its email it receives it and acts accordingly. If a log file has been requested it sends a reply email with an Excel compatible spreadsheet attached to it. This contains all of the requested log data and a detailed report of the current system status. If after analysing a systems log data Cathelco wish to alter the system configuration they simply send a new email with the new settings required. When the system receives it, it adjusts its settings accordingly and replies to confirm the update. This approach provides a very simple and effective means of internet connectivity. A typical approach would have required Cathelco to connect to the system directly, which would have needed each ships network router to be specially configured to accept incoming connections. This is generally not desirable or is simply not permitted by many network configurations in these days of internet security concerns. As the system instead initiates its own outbound connection to the internet this complexity is completely bypassed as the system connects to the internet in the same way as any other computer on the ship. Typically a ships network will already have been configured to provide this removing any need for any special network adjustments. The internet connectivity provides Cathelco with very powerful remote control of every system they install, dramatically improving the long term effectiveness of their systems and reducing the need for on site engineer visits.
Provide a CompactFlash memory card socket to allow log data to be copied from the control unit locally if required, as an alternative means to the Ethernet connection.
Incorporate an attractive graphic display with a full user menu system, to allow all settings to be configured and the complete system status to be monitored locally.
Provide an alarm state output to immediately alert engineers should a fault be detected with the system wiring. Immediate repair may then be undertaken, potentially saving costly corrosion should a fault go undetected.
Design the outer enclosures for the control module and power output module, with attractive front graphic overlays for each module.
Design using low cost embedded technology for lowest possible production costs.
Provide a complete prototype system for end of project evaluation and subsequent testing on board a suitable vessel.
Provide full manufacture and test documentation. Provide secure web site area with all engineering files for download by clients manufacturers.