Integrated bridge systems for superyachts

The yachting industry is now seeing an increase in the installations of integrated bridge systems aboard superyachts. But what is an integrated bridge system, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of having one? Read on to find out more information on what effect they are having on the industry and the general consensus of such systems.

Navigation Chart with navigation tools

What is an integrated bridge system (IBS)?

An integrated bridge system (IBS) is defined as a combination of systems which are interconnected in order to allow centralised access to sensor information or command/control from workstations, with the aim of increasing safe and efficient ship management by suitably qualified personnel.

Traditional vs. integrated bridge systems

There are many notable differences between traditional and integrated bridge systems. The traditional bridge system is still popular and widely-used on many boats, similarly the integrated bridge system is also commonly used; both offering different pros and cons.

Traditional bridge systems

The traditional bridge system works as follows:

  • All instruments are stand-alone systems
  • Navigator interacts with every component
  • Continuously checks all data by themselves
  • Everything is manually controlled with a lack of automation
  • Can lead to a higher workload and stress
  • Offers limited precision and efficiency

Integrated bridge systems

The integrated bridge system offers the following:

  • All instruments interact in a network
  • Many procedures are automated
  • There’s a centralised display of results
  • Centralised alarm monitoring
  • Offers a reduced workload and less stress
  • Improved precision, performance and efficiency
  • Decision making is generally made easier

Below, the advantages for the navigator, owners and builders are listed, showing why IBS systems are popular with owners, yards, contractors and operators:

Compass

Advantages of IBS for navigators

  • Common display panel
  • Central preference panel
  • Central alarm panel and priority of alarms
  • Multifunctional displays
  • Confidence gained through internal system checks

Advantages of IBS for ship owners

  • Total system approvals and standardised manuals
  • Competent advice during project definition
  • Standardised COTS technology
  • Central service co-ordination through a ‘one service’ contract
  • Easy to upgrade system
  • Operator and maintenance training is usually included

Advantages of IBS for ship builders

  • Minimal in-house expertise required
  • Uniform system drawings and documentation
  • Reduced installation cost for wiring
  • Complete simulation-based system tests at factory
  • Harbour and sea acceptance trials by a responsible partner

Generic disadvantages of IBS

There are however, numerous disadvantages of using an IBS, hence why some crew still prefer the traditional system and functionality. The main disadvantages are:

  • Possibility for over reliance on the system
  • Expensive development costs for manufacturers
  • Complicated parts to the system
  • A structured and expensive training programme is required to fully appreciate the system
  • Reduces choice in certain components

Navigation Dome Aboard a Superyacht

Reducing the choice of components

Bridge system suppliers often provide and promote their own brand of components rather than integrating specific technologies that may be more advanced, more stable and that have higher functionality than their own products. Therefore all the components within the bridge system may not actually be the best for the yacht and can be restricted.

Over complication of systems

Related to the point above, rather than adding in the best possible components, manufacturers are adding additional extras to try and impress potential buyers, which can be seen as needless and unnecessary.

For example, if an operator has to look for a switch in a dark, high-traffic and rapidly developing situation, it is a distraction that may cause an accident and, over time, will cause fatigue.

Preference

Another point to consider is that both systems are proven, however it may simply depend on the captain’s preference and the requirements of the yacht.

Fashionable vs practical

Some captain’s see the IBS’s as over-complicating things and confusing certain aspects of navigation, and see them as the new fashion on board rather than a practical choice. However other captains may prefer the IBS due to the time it may save and the extra technological advances it can offer on board.


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