Embedded Monitoring System to Evaluate Commercial Fishing Vessel Performance

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"Due to the inherent scalability of LabVIEW and the use of the powerful producer/consumer design pattern, we could reuse as much as 80 percent of our code when integrating new instruments or new functionalities. "

- Gabriele Buglioni, ISMAR CNR

The Challenge:
Creating a performance monitoring system (PeMoS) for commercial fishing vessels to evaluate their energy usage under different operating conditions.

The Solution:
Combining the benefits of the cRIO-9075 with the NI 9870 and NI 9219 modules to create a rugged, semipermanent monitoring system and using this hardware to acquire, elaborate, store, and send vessel energy parameters to an FTP server through a dedicated WiFi connection.

Author(s):
Lucio Ciabattoni - META
Gabriele Buglioni - ISMAR CNR
Massimo Grisostomi - META
Gianluca Ippoliti - META
Matteo Pirro - META

Introducing PeMoS

The rise of oil prices and the decrease of fish catches brought renewed attention to energy-saving methods in the Italian fishing industry. Saving energy has been the subject of research since the oil crisis of the 1970s, leading to several studies aimed at improving vessel design by reducing power requirements. Due to the European Commission restrictions on new EU constructions, the major opportunities for reducing fuel consumption mainly relate to improving vessel performance rather than commissioning new energy-saving vessels.

In the framework of the RITMARE (SP2_WP5_AZ3) Flagship Project funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research, we set up a new performance monitoring system (PeMoS) for commercial fishing vessels to evaluate the energy performance of fishing vessels during catches. PeMoS features a central control unit (CCU) with a cRIO-9075 compact rugged industrial controller and interfaces several instruments through analog inputs (using an NI 9219 module) or serial buses (using a NI 9870 module). The CCU acquires, elaborates, and stores a vessel’s energy parameters and sends them to an FTP server through a dedicated WiFi connection. We used a DLink 1160 AP to connect over Ethernet to the CompactRIO system. The system also integrates data acquired from the shipboard GPS and weather station. We can connect serial instruments to the CCU by cable or, in case of harsh environments, using RF repeaters (Blizzard-868).

We used a client application for Windows to display the actual measured values as well as historical data graphs and tables to users. Moreover, through the GUI, users can configure CCU settings and send maintenance commands.

We have tested the system in the Adriatic Sea on board the R/V “G. Dallaporta,” which has 810 kW of engine power and a length overall (LOA) of 35.30 m. The PeMoS was conceived at CNR-ISMAR Ancona (Italy) and built by META srl Ancona (Italy).

Why did META choose LabVIEW?

LabVIEW is the leading development environment for instrumentation and measurement systems. Many instrument vendors provide LabVIEW drivers to accelerate software development and deployment. Furthermore, it is suited even for new instrument driver integration. LabVIEW and NI were good choices for us. We benefited from the ease of development of the CompactRIO platform, the reliability ensured in different environmental contexts, and were able to achieve results in a few months.

Due to the inherent scalability of LabVIEW and the use of the powerful producer/consumer design pattern, we could reuse as much as 80 percent of our code when integrating new instruments or new functionalities. Furthermore, we had the chance to separate the hardware and software design into modular standalone blocks so our engineering teams could code in parallel.

Finally, complex functionalities to realize using low-level programmed embedded platforms, such as FTP data uploading or TCP-IP connections, have become simple and easy to debug.

LabVIEW helped our small team efficiently design, rigorously test, and deploy a valid and reliable solution within extremely tight deadlines. We achieved results with LabVIEW that would not have been possible using other development platforms.

Author Information:
Lucio Ciabattoni
META

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