Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine has updated its VisionMaster FT bridge software to simplify management of ECDIS and radar alarms, enhance cyber security, and facilitate data exchange both on board and between ship and shore.
A key aim of the VMFT11 software update is to decrease the mariner’s workload in alert management by reducing the number of high priority radar and ECDIS alerts, the company said, so that more of their attention is on safely operating the ship.
“Managing alerts on radar and ECDIS has been a problem for years, because too many alerts were categorised as high priority and owners found that their officers spent too much time managing alerts when they should have been focusing on navigation,” said Simon Cooke, Technical Manager at Sperry Marine.
“VMFT11 brings VisionMaster into alignment with the latest thinking on Bridge Alert Management, including the ability to temporarily silence alerts and refined prioritisation, so that alarms are reserved for conditions where the mariner needs to take immediate action to maintain the safe navigation and operation of the vessel.”
Alerts are now presented visually using standardised icons, designed to shorten the familiarisation period for mariners. The icons have been developed around a human-centric design concept, using colour and shape to differentiate messages so they are as intuitive as possible.
VMFT11 also integrates Sperry Marine’s newest cyber security tool, the Secure Maritime Gateway, a Type Approved product which uses multiple firewalls and a ‘demilitarised zone’ to control the traffic that flows between front and back of bridge.
This system is used to safely connect these two critical shipboard bridge networks and to also allow data to pass to an external connection for transmission to the ship owner or manager.
“Our participation at the IMO and other industry bodies gives us an unparalleled understanding of the maritime regulatory environment, while our direct service network gives us insight into how mariners really work,” added Sperry Marine’s Director of Product Management, Simon Pinkney.
“This upgrade is a result of listening to our customers and supporting their desire to embrace more digital working but with an added layer of cyber security.”
Other updates include the addition of the RTZ format for vessel route exchange, provided as part of a standardised machine-readable process to more efficiently share routes between ECDIS units and back-of-bridge systems, such as route optimisation software, and to support sending routes back to shore.
Finally, VMFT11 also includes an improved version of the Sperry Marine Central Alert Management (CAM) system, reflecting the increasing number of navigation sensors that need to be managed on the bridge, with improved prioritisation, categorisation and display based on industry-standard iconography.