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McMurdo Systems has won a competitive bid for the supply of a global supervision system for navigation aid beacons along the French coasts, for a sum of nearly €200k. This system adds to the radiofrequency beacon system range proposed by the Brittany SME, enabling maritime signalling to be modernised by fitting floating buoys with a transponder capable of using AIS wireless technology, unaffected by weather conditions, to supply information about the identity of the buoy, its position and condition to ships and to the French maritime signalling authorities.

 

AIS system evolution : from anti-collision to maritime signalling

The AIS system (Automatic Identification System) is an automated message exchange system based on digital radio communication. This service was first used by shore stations responsible for monitoring traffic on shipping routes close to the coast, and also enables collision prevention, as it provides each ship with information about the identity, cargo and course of the other ships located in its navigation area. This system, particularly useful at night and in foggy conditions, enables ships to be noticed and identified when the usual methods (visual recognition or radar) cannot be used.

In use for about 10 years, this technological solution, which is widely used on merchant ships, is now modernising signalling at sea. Thanks to an AIS transponder installed on navigation aid buoys or lights and the new supervision system developed by Kannad, the French maritime signalling authorities will be able to automatically supervise buoys at sea and remotely obtain information about their position and operating condition. This innovative technological solution, very low cost because communications via the AIS channel are completely free, which delivers data in real time, will enable a very significant reduction in the maintenance costs of navigation aids while at the same time improving safety at sea.

"After having won an initial tender beginning of 2009, concerning the supply of 40 AIS transponders fitted to buoys on the main sea traffic routes close to the French coasts, this new contract confirms our leadership and our capacity to supply complete e-navigation solutions, which are set to grow in the international market. The supply of this type of system combining radio-frequency signalling, telecommunications and supervision software is part of our new growth and development strategy focused on the development of complete geolocalisation solutions and services", explains Jean-Pierre Bardon, President of KANNAD.

The technological solution rolled-out

The "Vigie AtoN[1]" system, developed by McMurdo Systems, is a global supervision system whose main function is to check the validity of the messages transmitted by the AIS transponders and to monitor the navigation aid status message. It also provides, thanks to GPS, an off position indicator, in compliance with IALA (International Association of Lighthouse Authorities) recommendation A-126. It can also process specific messages sent by the signalling stations, which makes it into a Navigation Aids remote monitoring centre, and it can also send messages to the AIS transponders, giving the possibility of performing remote checks on equipment.

With its modern and flexible design using "web" technologies, this system enables us to offer low-cost solutions adapted to users' requirements and permits a high level of customisation. The roll-out will get underway very shortly, for operation at the start of 2011.