NemaStudio and ECDIS training
ECDIS stands for Electronic Chart Display and Information System. If you are not familiar with this check out Wikipedia here.
New IMO (International Maritime Organization) regulations require that it is no longer sufficient to have crew to attend a generic ECDIS training but that the training and certification also requires ECDIS manufacturer “type specific” training.
In the case of Samos Steamship this would mean they have to send about 60 crew to Japan for the Tokyo Keiki EC-8000 training on the ECDIS simulators of Tokyo Keiki, meaning considerable costs.
PC connection to the ECDIS
To obtain a realistic environment we had to connect the PC where NemaStudio was installed on to the ECDIS. This was achieved by using USB-to-RS422 serial adapters and configure NemaStudio to send the appropriate simulated navigation data to the correct ECDIS ports.
In the picture at the right you can see the laptop with NemaStudio in the foreground while an engineer from Tokyo Keiki is checking the data coming from NemaStudio to the ECDIS.
NemaStudio in use as ECDIS ship and target simulator
After all technical issues were solved we prepared a number of scenarios with “own ship” data like GPS, sounder, heading and speed and “route to sail” based on waypoints. We also prepared a number of moving targets transmitting AIS and radar data while sailing a predefined route.
After starting NemaStudio the ECDIS nicely showed all “own ship” data and the track, and also all targets data dynamically generated by NemaStudio.
It was very satisfactory to see that a few invited ships officers were really fast picking up the ECDIS functionality and appreciated the simulated environment.
Room for improvement
Although NemaStudio proved to be a very useful tool in ECDIS training, I observed that for this specific purpose the program would benefit from a few improvements.
When a number of ship’s crew were invited to set up new scenario’s it turned out that the procedure for setting up a scenario is a bit too complex for people not technically skilled. This I will work on. I guess I need to develop a separate scenario editor.
For the trainer it is also desirable to hide more technical data currently on the user interface, and bring that to the background so he can better concentrate on the simulation and scenario’s.
In the mean time I decided to invest considerable future time in the ECDIS training market. It is for sure a very interesting market for Sailsoft. In this context it may be worth checking out this interview with Mr. Pearsall from ECDIS Ltd, a company commercially involved in ECDIS training.