With the progressive tightening of environmental requirements, ship owners are increasingly interested in installing electronic control in existing vessels. Advanced control systems that manage fuel injection and compression contribute to better fuel economy and reduced emissions.
Many of the world’s ships are propelled by engines from MAN Diesel & Turbo, and in recent years demand for the company’s electronically controlled B&W two-stroke diesels has risen sharply. Since the summer of 2011, robust EPC industrial computers from Beijer Electronics have been used as the HMI for the giant engines.
“We build engines with a lifetime of 30 years, which have to work day in, day out, in a tough maritime environment with all that this implies in terms of heat, humidity and vibration,” explains Kennet Palm, head of hardware development at MAN Diesel & Turbo.
The EPC boxes have therefore been tested methodically and very thoroughly over a long period. Among the formal requirements, the products have to be type-approved by the leading maritime classification associations.
It can get very hot in the engine room of a ship. As a result, checks are carried out to ensure that the computers will still work in 70°C temperatures. The EPC boxes met these demands and also withstood vibration and humidity tests.
The computers supplied are ready to use right out of the box, with the operating system and the relevant drivers and programs already installed by Beijer Electronics before delivery. If a control computer should fail the crew on board can re-install the operating system and programs. This backup copy is held on a USB stick, a robust solution for such environments.
The Beijer Electronics EPC box is a robust, maintenance-free and well-protected industrial computer for tough environments. It is built around Intel processors with Windows XP Embedded, and fanless processors keep the temperature down and reduce wear. The industrial computer is IP20-rated according to DIN EN 60529.
Connections include parallel and serial ports as standard, along with USB 2.0 sockets and 100 Mbps Ethernet. MAN Diesel & Turbo has chosen flash disk for data storage. The alternative is a traditional vibration-tolerant hard disk.
The EPC series is certified by the ABS (American Bureau of Shipping), Bureau Veritas, DNV, Germanischer Lloyd, Lloyd’s Register and the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, explains the company.
The electronic control systems manage enormous forces. The engines may output up to 115,000 horsepower and weigh up to 2000 tons. The cylinders, between six and fourteen in number, have a stroke length of almost five meters.
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