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Offshore Support Journal

New controller equips Fanbeam 5 for extreme conditions

Tue 13 Jun 2017 by David Foxwell

New controller equips Fanbeam 5 for extreme conditions
The new controller for Fanbeam 5 makes it easier to use than ever

UK-based Renishaw has unveiled a new controller for its Fanbeam 5 dynamic positioning reference system. 

Designed to enhance product usability, functionality and performance, the controller includes a new software interface, with a collection of reliable, intelligent automated features and advanced user modes for optimum performance in extreme conditions.

The Fanbeam 5 position reference system uses accurate time-of-flight laser technology to determine vessel position relative to custom reflectors that can be fixed to offshore rigs, installations or other vessels. Fanbeam data is fed into the vessel’s dynamic positioning (DP) system, which controls thrusters used to maintain vessel position during operations.

Fanbeam Controller 4.0 is the result of the extensive research that led Renishaw's in-house software development and usability teams to make the software and control system as easy to use as possible. To support DP vessel operators, Fanbeam Controller 4.0 now provides advanced software features and functionality that place control in the hands of the dynamic positioning operator (DPO).

These features include a cleaner and more intuitive user interface to support ease of tracking confidence and threats from false observations. Improvements include fewer controls on screen; bigger buttons; controls that are grouped logically; simple function keys; and large, clear input/output icons.

The software also offers next-generation functionality, which has been thoroughly performance-tested for optimum usability. This includes both reliable, intelligent automation for increased operator confidence, and full DPO control over filtering.

The modes and graphical display preferences supported by the system include a basic bird’s-eye view overview mode for when conditions are good, and a range of advanced modes, which present information in greater detail for when conditions are more challenging.

Smart display preferences reduce the need for user interaction, leaving the operator free to focus on more complex tasks. Such options include a day/night colour scheme, which automatically adjusts the display to allow for changing conditions.

The control system now operates on a Windows 7 embedded control PC. And vessel operators have the option of installing a panel- or bracket-mounted control panel.

“The new user interface is the result of user research and information needs analysis,” said Renishaw senior usability engineer Nicholas Colford. “It's based on a deep understanding of the decisions that DPOs make and the information they need. We analysed each decision and worked out the right way to show the DPO the right information at the right time.”

Renishaw marine sales manager John Howells added: “Renishaw is committed to improving the usability of our products, and the new Fanbeam software release focuses on that. We’re confident the new software will present DP operators, both old and new, with a greater user experience that allows them to make key decisions quicker.”

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