Case Study: EDT Offshore

Case Study: EDT Offshore

Power Ethernet’s Integrated Powerline solution saves tons of both time and money to EDT’s challenging installation of data networking on the vessels.

EDT logo

EDT is a supplier of high-specification offshore support vessels to the Oil and Gas industry worldwide. Their vessels support survey, diving and Remote Operational Vehicle (ROV) operations and have assisted in military and civilian aircraft wreckage recoveries.  From its home port of Limassol in Cyprus, EDT also provides service such as Shore base facilities, a dedicated quay, heliport and ships agency services.

Their commitment to continuous improvement is reflected in ongoing investment in new ships and the upgrade of existing vessels, along with implementation of the latest technology to better service client’s needs. 

EDT clients’ IT and Safety requirements mean that they increasingly demand reliable and secure data communications for VoIP, IT networks and IP camera services (to provide clients with an on-site view) to most areas of the ship.

The Maritime Networking Challenge

As off shore operations normally run under limited bandwidth -- often via Satellite link-- allocation and prioritisation of the bandwidth becomes crucial to enable access data from a number of strategic points and improve crew welfare, security and communication. For this, it is critical to ensure that each Ethernet port available on the ship is secured.

EDT’s clients increasing demand for a secure and high speed networking infrastructure not only requires EDT to have an industrial grade and robust networking solution which form part of the vessel’s infrastructure, but also a B2B grade networking functionality that includes advanced VLAN capabilities.

These capabilities, allow EDT to duplicate the network architecture on the vessel as they have on shore, which in turn, simplifies the network support and allows the vessel to be quickly connected directly to the shore network when it is in port.

Typically, ships consist of 3 decks and have approximately 14 cabins per deck with Internet access needed in each cabin. As such, the networking needs of a ship or off shore installation are similar to those found on shore but with the added challenge that it is almost impossible to cable through watertight steel bulkheads. Installation using additional Ethernet cabling is time consuming, expensive and disruptive, as it requires some alteration to the fabric of the vessel to not compromise the watertight/fireproof integrity.

EDT Ship

EDT researched the available data solutions in the global market. Wireless solutions have a place but cannot offer the reliability or penetrate the fabric of the structure owning to the high amount of metalwork.

The solution was to make use of the most pervasive wiring already installed on every vessel -- the existing electrical wiring.By using Powerline Communications (PLC) as a network backbone, the electrical wires allow the transmission of a high speed data network.

Powerline Communications is well known within the consumer market place where they largely consist of plug-in adapters designed for home use but due to the demanding requirements of maritime work they were not a practical option. Furthermore, such systems lack the integration, scalability and advanced IT management functionality needed.

The Solution

EDT contacted Power Ethernet, who offered an Integrated Powerline Networking Solution which provided instant distribution of satellite Internet access across the whole vessel by creating a data network that runs over the electrical wiring on board.

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As there was no need of installing any new cabling, the network was deployed in a matter of hours and wherever needed in the vessel without any major work to on-board structures. This, not only made the networking deployment cost-effective, but also minimised disruption and downtime.

Using the existing power points of the ships, the Power Ethernet Sockets allocates 4 port managed network switches as well as local power point per unit. The 4 ports available in each unit can be configured to allow up to 4 separate VLANs, allowing the installation of services such as IP Voice telephony, Wireless Network devices, high speed Internet access, room management and control.

Furthermore, Power Ethernet tailored its Power Ethernet Management Software (PEMS) in order to allow the EDT-ICT team to easily manage the network and to cater it for future changes to accommodate desired applications.

Key to EDT’s deployment strategy was to match the on-vessel network configuration to that used on shore. This gives EDT a number of important benefits including:

  • Simplifying the support requirements by using the same network configuration across all vessels
  • Any EDT vessel can quickly link into the on-shore network as the two networks are compatible with each other. This means that the crew benefit from high speed Internet access whilst in-port across the existing infrastructure.

The VLANs are used to enforce and prioritise the network usage which is particular important when the only Internet access is via satellite link.

IT configuration and benefits of Power Ethernet Management Software

The Integrated Powerline Solution offered by Power Ethernet allowed EDT to be able to configure multiple VLANs to cover corporate, guest, IP Phone and other networks.

Power Ethernet’s Powerline Sockets have 4 Ethernet ports built into BS standard double socket form factor and each of the Ethernet ports can be individually programmed with specific VLAN configuration. The Powerline Socket is secured with a Network Password which is used to secure the data using 128bit AES encryption as it is sent across the mains wiring.

The Power Ethernet Management Software –PEMS-- was customised for EDT’s networking necessities which includes a Simple VLAN mode (single 802.1Q tag per port) as well as Advanced Trunk Port VLANS. This has enabled EDT to connect the “master” Powerline Socket to their existing firewall configurations and have the VLANs propagate to the designated Ethernet ports across the Powerline network.

Benefits

  • EDT can turn around data fit-outs in port far quicker and more cost effectively. This enables EDT’s clients to gain a more efficient service at sea.
  • Installation of VOIP services and CCTV becomes straightforward and the operation of these services can be easily managed and data prioritised using the management software.
  • Access points for data can be either enabled, given priority or disabled when desired.
  • Where appropriate, virtually any IP driven application can be facilitated such as AV entertainment systems.
  • Access points can readily be relocated and others enabled for local area or deck services, such as local Wi-Fi for portable devices.

Future Applications

Power Ethernet’s Integrated Powerline Solution has the ability to adapt and extend the network functionality. This may include:

  • Integrating Wi-Fi into external deck sections and cabins.
  • Distributed Power over Ethernet (PoE) driven applications, even to remote and exposed deck areas.

This can be achieved by robust weather resistant IP rated solutions that easily connect to the devices that are enabled just as they link to the power system of the ship.

Extended networks such as the above may be necessary even on new purpose built pre-cabled vessels. This is because client requirements constantly change and there is a need to continuously adapt and extend networks.

Dominic Landucci- IT Consultant from EDT said: ”Before we installed any new equipment it had to undergo rigorous testing and had to meet tough conditions of performance, as it must whilst operating in harsh marine environments. The Power Ethernet’s Integrated Powerline Solution test included the hardware, the data network and the management software. We set out to find the ideal outcome to our many network challenges. We found that the Power Ethernet’s solution really opened up new options for us.It has proved to be robust and reliable allowing us to allocate and prioritise bandwidth access when off-shore and providing fast internet access all over the vessel when on shore. We manage to quickly deploy the network while the vessel was under routinely maintenance service and it was up and running with very little disruption or downtime saving us tons of both time and money”