Rennes, France — The Institute of Telecommunications of Rennes (ITR) has shown that a cost-effective wireless solution for monitoring systems on board large ships is feasible. This includes passenger ferries, despite the complications of watertight doors and dense metallic bulkheads.
Engineers previously believed that these features of ships made a fully wireless solution too difficult to implement. However, in their paper published in the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s flagship journal Electronics Letters, the ITR researchers demonstrate how radio leakage between metallic watertight adjacent rooms is of a sufficient level for communication between network nodes in a wireless sensor network (WSN).
On-board monitoring systems are an essential part of a ferry-sized vessel, using kilometres of cabling to connect thousands of sensors, for systems monitoring, internal messaging and on-board communications. A wireless solution would also reduce the cost and the complexity of upgrading systems to new specifications.
Another major advantage of a wireless solution compared to rolling out hundreds of metres of heavy cabling is reduced weight. A WSN could lead to an increase in a ship’s payload or reduce its fuel load, with positive effects on the environment and financial costs involved. Alongside passenger ferries, there are over 50,000 international merchant ships that transport 90% of world trade*, suggesting an opportunity for a substantial reduction in global carbon emissions.
The next steps for the researchers include: determining the engineering rules necessary to install a WSN on a ship; adapting existing monitoring systems to support wireless devices; and testing the wireless networks in difficult conditions. The researchers will also explore the scope for other ship-based wireless applications such as on-board wireless local area networks, wireless personal area networks and cordless telephones used by the crew.
The IET is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers with over 150,000 members in 127 countries and is a leading source of engineering intelligence.
Electronics Letters is an internationally renowned, peer-reviewed, rapid-communication journal, which publishes short original research papers every two weeks. The broad and interdisciplinary scope covers the latest developments in all electronic engineering and technology-related fields.