Catapult team supports UK innovation in marine technology to avoid costly breakdowns at sea



Satellite communications experts at the Satellite Applications Catapult have contributed to the development of pioneering technology to improve the efficiency of engine maintenance for shipping.

IntelliMon (a division of STS Defence Ltd), led the collaborative R&D project called IConIC (Intelligent Condition monitoring with Integrated Communications) with £1m funding from Innovate UK.

Designed to avoid the six-figure cost of breakdowns on the high seas, the satellite-linked technology monitors the marine diesel engines in operation at sea and keeps vessel operators on shore appraised of engine health.

As part of the consortium, the Catapult team provided expert advice on hybrid communications to product developers and system architects, and the Catapult’s satellite communications laboratory supported the trial phase to explore the suitability of the different types of equipment available.

Dr David Garrity, Chief Scientist, STS Defence, said: “IntelliMon is a division of STS Defence and we now have 11 people working on a number of development projects as a result of successful outcomes from Innovate UK funded research. This includes IConIC, which is by far and away our biggest project.

“The Satellite Application Catapult’s expertise has been invaluable in assisting the development of the core technology in the product, specifically in the use of different satellite communications system configurations. They also assisted us in connecting with commercial airtime providers, leading to exciting new potential for future collaboration between companies based at the Catapult and STS Defence with the outputs of IConIC.”

Stuart Martin, CEO, Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “IConIC has been a very successful partnership, bringing together technical and industry expertise from across the satellite and maritime sectors. STS Defence has been able to accelerate the development of a ground-breaking technology in the UK that delivers a solution to the challenge of getting live engine data from ship to shore across thousands of ocean miles.”

The technology is based on a series of algorithms developed by The Institute of Industrial Research at the University of Portsmouth. They analyse vibration readings by extracting key engine performance indicators that can be translated into basic, byte-sized ‘health-score’ information. This data is then sent back to shore via satellite link or, potentially, using the vessel’s own automatic ID (AIS) transponder.

IConIC has since been demonstrated on Red Funnel’s ro-pax ferries operating between Southampton and the Isle of Wight, and on a 45,000dwt tanker operating out in the Far East.

Consortium partners also included NGnuity Ltd, LW Partners Ltd and the University of Southampton.

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