Touch screen technology has transformed everyday life and now, thanks to Norwegian e-navigation specialist NAVTOR, it is set to revolutionise operations onboard busy vessel bridges. The company has launched the NAVTOR NavStation, the world’s first ‘Digital Chart Table’ and a breakthrough in bridge-based decision making tools.
NavStation combines unique software with an optional 46 in. ‘gigapad’ touch device, giving navigators an intuitive and user-friendly interface to plan optimal vessel routes. The software gathers and overlays all the data navigators require – including ENCs, weather data, tidal information, digital publications and other services like piracy updates – on a single screen for the very first time. Users can then grab, swipe and manoeuvre the layers on the giant touch pad to unlock a new e-navigation reality.
“NavStation signifies a giant leap in the evolution of e-navigation and is exactly what busy navigators have been dreaming of,” states NAVTOR Business Manager Willy Zeiler.
“So much information is available, and compulsory, today, but managing it is time-consuming, impractical and tiring. Our software integrates everything into one place, meaning navigators no longer have to race around the bridge – from one software to another, from maritime publications and paper charts to ECDIS, from console to console. Hence they can concentrate on what’s really important, optimal navigation.
“This is the utilisation of technology for greater efficiency, safety and effectiveness; which is the cornerstone of the e-navigation movement.”
The NavStation software, which also operates on standard computers, utilises NAVTOR’s market leading ENC service as its ‘base layer’. Subscribers can then add and integrate additional NAVTOR e-navigation products and services, including weather overlay, all Admiralty’s digital products and publications, as well as services like piracy or iceberg updates.
It is, Zeiler says, a complete navigation package rooted in the principle of “simplifying complicated tasks and producing better results.”
This philosophy is embodied by several key NavStation features, such as the automatic updating of charts and publications, and easy integration with a vessel’s ECDIS. In addition, the dynamic route planning function provides powerful benefits, with the potential to deliver real fuel and man-hour efficiencies.
“This is another breakthrough,” Zeiler explains. “If you were looking to plan a route across the Pacific and wanted to optimise it for wind, wave size, direction and frequency, and so on, you’d have to download maybe 15 days of data. Even then, as you sail along, the weather will change and therefore so will the optimal route. However, with NavStation the planned route is shared with our partner StormGeo, which constantly updates the weather data and provides a dynamically optimised route based on real-time conditions. It gives navigators a better standard of information, leading to better decision making, and achieving better time and fuel savings. Simple.”
Solving complex challenges with simple solutions is a key driver for NAVTOR. This is clear in NavStation’s gigapad option:
“It’s basically a giant maritime ‘iPad’ developed by a respected OEM. The functionality is first class and the features are tailor-made for bridge use, such as the split screen option. This allows you to divide the screen and zoom in to see intricate details and important information on one half, while keeping an overview on the other. It’s a unique route-planning tool and an easy way to really seize the great potential e-navigation offers.”
The NavStation software has been in development for the past year, with a series of successful trial installations undertaken with shipowners based in Norway.
Adapted from a press release by David Bizley
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