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Delaying ECDIS commitment could reduce options available

Prudent shipowners and managers, particularly those with large fleets, should be making plans to ensure a successful transition to ECDIS, or risk being left with a narrower choice of equipment and a tight schedule to make sure it works.

Although the mandatory carriage of ECDIS is currently confined to new tankers and passenger ships, 2014 will see the start of obligatory retrofit to existing vessels. “As we saw with GMDSS and AIS, if you leave your mandatory equipment obligations to the last minute, your choices can become very limited and the standard of installations can suffer severely,” says Bruce deBies, Regional Sales Manager for Kelvin Hughes “ECDIS is far too safety critical to put yourself in this uncomfortable position”.

There are some important decisions to make that can have far reaching consequences. In addition to choosing good quality ECDIS hardware, superintendents and managers must make arrangements for chart supply, management and updating and their crews must be effectively trained.

In the longer term, they must be confident that their chosen system will receive effective manufacturer support and any necessary software upgrades. Failure to correctly display charted features as a result of outdated software is not only potentially dangerous but could result in Port State Control detention.
For those managing large fleets, the choice of ECDIS is critical.

The combination of Kelvin Hughes’ user friendly ECDIS and full charting services provide the perfect package for a successful transition to electronic navigation. Kelvin Hughes introduced its fourth-generation ECDIS in 2011. With a three-year warranty and global support it offers the most cost-effective solution available.

“We developed ECDIS4 building on the extensive experience we have gained since our first ECDIS received type approval in 1999. We responded to user feedback by producing what we believe to be the easiest and most intuitive human/machine interface of any ECDIS on the market. This in itself is an important safety feature, and in combination with our type-specific training and built-in familiarisation function means that crew quickly become competent and confident in operating the equipment.”

“We have worked hard to provide easy-to-use manual plotting functions that allow safe operation in the case of GPS outage, and also encourage regular manual verification of GPS positioning under normal operating conditions.”

However, there is a lot more to ECDIS implementation, including the supply and management of ENCs (electronic navigational charts). Ship-owners have discovered to their cost that it can be difficult to resolve technical problems when ECDIS and ENCs are provided from different sources.

“Kelvin Hughes is the only company that can provide a full solution that includes equipment, training, paper and electronic chart data, chart management and update, along with global installation and support,” says Mr deBies. “In the event of a problem, you tell us, and we will fix it. You will not be bounced between companies insisting that the problem lies elsewhere.”

As part of its ECDISplus product, Kelvin Hughes Outfit Management Service (OMS) combines the initial supply of data with ongoing monitoring of vessel movements and changes to ENC coverage. “This ensures that chart data is always up-to-date and safe,” says deBies. “It also means that operators are only invoiced for what their vessels actually need.”

Kelvin Hughes’ data update service, ChartCo, manages chart changes and updates and ensures that they are always Port State Authority compliant. ChartCo transmits updates to ships via email, the internet or broadcast bulletins. It also provides weather forecasting, anti-piracy data and other services for vessels at sea.

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