Getting your bearings: controlling dynamic positioning at sea

June News - Published in The Ergonomist

Dave Sanderson

Technology is now more accessible and more connected. The increased connectivity has brought about the age of ‘Big Data’, where the amount of information available is also doubling. For a computer system this is not a problem, as they are also increasing in performance at a roughly similar rate. For a human however, this has led to an increase in the potential for information overload; there are so many things to look at it’s hard to know what should command attention, a problem all too familiar to ergonomists and human factors specialists. 

In the maritime sector, ships’ crews are faced with a huge amount of information, some of which concerns the ship’s location, and that of other vessels and land masses. Dynamic Positioning (DP) position measurement technologies are available for high value offshore marine markets for real-time vessel positioning and manoeuvring. Reference sensors are an integral part of any modern DP-equipped sea vessel. In around 50 years the availability of these sensors has greatly increased. The first automatic DP-equipped vessel, the Eureka, a Shell drill ship, was equipped with a taut wire analogue control system.

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