As ships become more automated and data management a strong requirement of on-board networks, creating a well defined shipboard infrastructure is crucial. Shipboard wireless area networks are a popular way of achieving this infrastructure. Since cost reduction is a priority among ship owners, and ship networks an integral part of ship operations, wireless networking is clearly a rising star in on-board networks.
Connecting a Wide Range of Devices
Recently, with advances in wireless networking, it’s become simpler to connect resources from all areas around the ship. Handheld devices, laptops and wireless PDAs can be used by members of the crew for discussion of maintenance issues and for submitting reports from anywhere on the ship. Communication is much simpler between crew members as shipboard wireless area networks can support instantaneous log entry into a central database, improving efficiency and situational awareness.
Shipboard Wireless Area Network Configuration
Shipboard wireless area networks nowadays can connect all the internet, telephone, VoD and CCTV on the ship through the SWAN system. Configuration consists basically in an access point, a POE device to receive wireless data that connects via USB instead of a fixed LAN, a wireless transmitter extension of an AP antenna that allows faster speeds, a server and switching hub. Additional access points can be situated around the ship.
On Board Monitoring Systems
Since radio leakage through metallic watertight doors is possible, shipboard wireless area networks are well suited to the task of on-board monitoring. Controlling a network of sensors like those found in various parts of the ship including control stations and the engine room, wireless networking ensures high security and data reliability.
Easy Access to Crucial Information
Shipboard wireless area networks make it easier to collect information in real-time that enables the monitoring of devices in locations that were previously inaccessible. Sailors can quickly access critical data from various shipboard locations through any standard wireless device including PDAs and laptops. Security systems built into the network can also protect sensitive data from outside attack.
Achieving Manpower Reduction
The more technologically advanced and automated ship systems become, the less manpower is needed. The shift to sensor-based monitoring and more mobility for valuable crew members through using handheld devices is improving manpower efficiencies. Shipboard wireless area networks continue to be developed to integrate applications and hardware that improves functionality and cost efficiencies.
Robust Shipboard Wireless Area Networks
Ongoing developments in wireless networking bode well for shipboard communications. Shipboard control networks essential for the smooth operation of a ship both in harbor and while at sea can be sufficiently catered for through wireless networks that are now as robust and reliable as their weightier and more costly fixed networks. Wireless transmission between devices is energy efficient. Wireless networks can be deployed on board far more quickly and with lower maintenance costs.
Keywords: wireless networking, Shipboard Wireless Area Networks
By: Rosario Berry
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