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Vessel Technology launches next generation of network storm testing


Vessel Technology (VT), a leading designer of network storm testing systems, has launched the next generation of its DPSS®Net tool which allows vessel crews to easily and independently test complex network systems and their resilience to network storms.


A network storm is a quantity of data, typically excessive and undesired in nature, that can lead to issues such as disruption of data communication and a decline in network equipment performance, which may affect other networks if not properly contained.


The potential repercussions of an unmanaged network storm in a dynamic positioning (DP) system can be severe, unpredictable and may lead to loss of position or heading of a vessel.


The purpose of performing testing, using specialist equipment, is to ensure the design, protection and monitoring functions are fit for purpose.


This includes detection and checking for network storm warnings, identification of systems vulnerable to network storms and verification of new and existing systems. Together, these enable containment of a network storm within a single network.


The latest generation tool from VT, which is headquartered in North-east Scotland, means marine technical personnel, equipped with DPSS®Net hardware, can carry out robust testing of vessel systems without the need to call out a service engineer, reducing downtime and costs.


The DPSS®Net is customised to meet the needs and requirements of each vessel and updates can be provided remotely.


The generation 2 tool has a number of advantages over its predecessor, primarily that it has at least four times more computational power and much greater automated functionality.


Another significant advantage of the generation 2 tool is that it can collect and graph all data in conjunction with additional hardware. It is believed to be the only solution on the market which can do this, allowing for further analysis if desired in the future.


David Milne, Managing Director at VT and a leading expert in network storms and electronics systems, was a key stakeholder of an International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) working group which developed the industry body’s recently published Guidelines for the Management of DP System Network Storms.


The document raises awareness of the risks presented by the use of data communications networks on dynamically positioned vessels. Its content and conclusions were validated by testing in major DP control systems manufacturers’ laboratories and on-board DP vessels in service.


“Network storm management is an area of increasing focus as there is greater awareness and greater understanding of the potential effects of network storms on DP systems and the serious consequences that might result,” said Mr Milne.


“Vessels using the DPSS®Net Generation 2, will have greater independence because they are no longer reliant on manufacturers to carry out network storm testing on their behalf. This gives vessel operators more flexibility in their day-to-day operations, secure in the knowledge that the testing they carry out is in accordance with the IMCA document.”

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