Micro-Electronics — its Effect on Future Ship Operation

Ship operation could change considerably in the future as a result of the increasing introduction of micro-processor controlled machinery and equipment. Working practices, training, bridge and machinery space layouts will alter.

Although few problems remain to be solved at the present state of development, as automation increases, the relationship between controls, machinery and ship design will be more closely linked, resulting in the need for a much more integrated approach to ship design.

Over the past five years a comprehensive programme of research and development aimed at introducing micro-electronics into merchant ship operation has been carried out.

Initially, the work consisted of a design study for a highly-automated petroleum products tanker together with a preliminary attempt to evaluate micro-processor technology in a range of marine applications.

Following this, further evaluation of micro-electronics technology resulted in the design and construction of an advanced cargo control station for a liquid bulk carrier. This incorporates a wide range of microelectronics hardware systems which will be increasingly used for the surveillance and control of machinery and of cargo operations.

Microcomputers are currently undergoing shipboard trials and there is continuous feedback on their performance and reliability.

A Code of Practice has now been prepared which will form the basis for the installation of future micro-electronics equipment on board merchant ships.