PROFINET provides great advantages in sailing yacht design (Netherlands)

eL-Tec Elektrotechnologie, in Hattem in the Netherlands, is building an alarm system for a luxurious sailing yacht, the 52 meter ‘Boreas’. The company has a lot of experience in control and monitoring systems for ships but up to now has used separate control and service systems. For this ship, a more powerful and extensive system was needed, so the engineering team explored new possibilities. The answer lay with S-MAX, a powerful Phoenix Contact PLC with an integrated touch-screen service panel (HMI) and a PROFINET interface.

Four S-MAX controllers are deployed in the ‘Boreas’. Using PROFINET these exchange data transparently with equipment such as the motor management and fire alarm systems. PROFINET is certified for shipping and handles the data transported between the PLC and the I/O modules and the normal Ethernet data simultaneously in real-time. The system has the required reaction speed and supports very fast visualization. With the HMI integrated into S-MAX costs and programming hours are much reduced.
The monitoring system controls all vital functions of the ship – the motor, the valves in the bilge pump, fuel and ballast tanks, fresh water tanks, the heating and cooling installations, fire alarms, battery system, the navigation lights and the deck lights.

The simplest, and the most complicated, systems are handled with PROFINET IO, from the dimming of the lights in the accommodation area to the hydraulic system for reefing and hoisting the sails. Everything is done with a strong emphasis on energy saving. The ship is divided into six segments, each with its own managed PROFINET switch which connects to the I/O devices around the ship. A separate glass fiber cable has been installed which will only be used for this system, and the whole network is tightly secured against interference.

The yacht will sail around the world, so eL-Tec has proposed that a fully redundant system should be installed. The primary system would then have a back up, which PROFINET supports easily. If the customer agrees, eL-Tec will also implement the software needed to let its support engineers in Hassen help the crew remotely solve any problems that arise via the internet.

An important reason for choosing PROFINET was the savings realised in cabling. The whole system communicates via one PROFINET fiber network, which delivers a big commercial advantage together with considerable weight savings – important in ship design.