Stonehaven-based MarineMTS believes that its “Silverbox” system has the potential to boost the maritime sector by providing secure chart and data updates to mariners across the globe.
The technology should help vessel owners and operators improve voyage planning, enhance safety and “prepare for a future of automation”, according to the firm.
Silverbox is said to have undergone “rigorous” testing on client vessels around the world and will enable the delivery of live, secure, automatic updates to navigational charts on vessels that use an electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) – mandatory for all sizes of commercial craft by this July. Real-time chart updates are not currently available with existing ECDIS technology.
MarineMTS’s “plug and play” unit can bolt onto any brand ECDIS, increasing its functionality and providing access to current data. It comes with anti-virus capability, compresses and encrypts data for transmission – offering a “secure, cost-effective and fully integrated solution for mariners”.
Wynne Edwards, the company’s founder and managing director, said: “The launch of Silverbox means that ship owners and operators will, for the first time, be able to unlock the full potential of their navigational systems through our innovative bolt-on technology.
“The current ECDIS is akin to the first generation of satellite navigation for vehicles, which didn’t automatically sync with the latest data and therefore were rarely up-to-date. What we have developed is a plug-in that allows real-time maritime charting to be easily accessed.”
He added: “We estimate the global market for this type of technology to be around $1 billion [£730 million]. As first to market, and with a global network of contacts garnered from the customer base for our current products, we are well positioned to bring a healthy slice of that to Scotland.”
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has introduced regulations requiring ship owners of all sizes to replace paper navigational charts with electronic systems, and, as of July, all ships must use ECDIS.
There is a growing desire for vessels to use real-time data, particularly as the market moves towards the next generation of ships. As with land-based transport, robotics and automation are on the horizon, and when that time comes real-time data will be essential to keep global shipping moving. In preparation, MarineMTS has been focused on a period of “intensive” research and development, leading to the testing and now the deployment of Silverbox.
Edwards added: “From super tankers to leisure craft, the shipping industry has traditionally been behind the curve in terms of adopting digital technology and big data.
“All ship operators are now upgrading to electronic data, and we are providing the ability to jump straight to secure real-time data and future-proof their operations.”
The firm has offices in Aberdeen, Alexandria and Dubai and training centres in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Rosyth and Southampton.