May 23, 2018

Research & Development

Ongoing research and development

delta-sistems B.V. has taken over Shipsonic™ in January 2017. Since then, the systems have been completely re-engineered. And electronics, software, and transducer housing are permanently researched and improved.
Electronics- and software development is carried out with engineers from Eindhoven Technical University and Delft Technical University. In addition, we have an ultrasonic research project with the Royal Dutch Institute for the Exploration of the Sea (NIOZ) and the University of Applied Sciences Vlissingen.
Design of control units and systems with large numbers of transducers (using PLCs) is carried out with the help of GTV from Den Bosch. Development of the transducer housing we do with Mepromfrom Goes.
This way we tap into the rich Dutch maritime R&D tradition. Hence, the Shipsonic systems are fully developed and built in the Netherlands.

Ultrasonic signal tester

At delta-sistems we feel we have dealt with all the technical challenges in making a reliable, high powered ultrasonic system. One challenge remains, however: where exactly to install the transducers on the object that needs protection? This is an acoustical problem, and these problems are notoriously complex. As with all acoustical problems, the solution is often a trial and error process.
Therefore we prefer that one of our agents installs the system. The installation itself is very straightforward, but what counts is our agents’ experience in transducer localization. However, even an experienced installer at times has to engage in a trial and error process.
Moreover, many of our systems are sent overseas and installed by the ship’s crew. In such cases we cannot guarantee effectiveness, it does happen that the system as such functions properly, but that the effectiveness is insufficient.

To address this problem, Shipsonic is developing an ultrasonic signal strength measuring device. We develop this new device completely in-house. Once ready, the signal tester will use a contact microphone to measure ultrasonic energy levels in the steel of the object to be protected, while we have a device to temporarily place transducers on the sea chest or elsewhere. This way we can compare tester readings of different transducer locations and thus find the optimal locations for the transducers.
The first prototypes are now ready and we are busy ‘testing the tester’. To be continued!

Effectiveness testing

Together with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and the University of Applied Sciences Vlissingen, delta-sistems has designed an effectiveness testing set-up at the NIOZ laboratories in Yerseke, the Netherlands. Here we are building a test set-up to compare marine growth in North Sea water on different surfaces under different regimes. In a controlled environment, we shall compare the effectiveness of different ultrasonic frequencies. Of course, there will be control basins without any ultrasonic transducers to make our results scientifically viable. Once the research system has been activated, we shall report about it here.

Waterproof transducers inside the sea chest

Normally, transducers are dry-mounted on the inside of the vessel on the outside of the sea chest or similar to protect box-coolers, suction pipes etc. This means that the ultrasonic signal has to travel from the sea-chest wall to the cooling ribs of the box-cooler. This results in energy loss. Delta-sistems has now developed a completely waterproof transducer with a mounting support that can be placed inside the sea-chest under the box-cooler. Thus, the ultrasonic signal will ‘shine directly’ on the ribs of the box-cooler. The challenge has been to develop a transducer housing that will remain waterproof for years, withstanding its own ultrasonic vibrations. The first prototype of this transducer is now ready, built of POM (Polyoxymethylene) and stainless steel 316.  It now needs to be installed in a sea chest for real-life testing (ref to client participation in research below). Once the first results of this research are in, we shall report about it on our website.

Transducers on sluice gates and similar maritime structures

Delta-sistems has been part of a consortium that tendered for the rebuild project of a big sluices complex in the Netherlands. For this project, we developed a system of mounting transducers under water on the sluice doors and control them through a programmable logic controller (PLC), in a large, air-conditioned control unit. Unfortunately, our consortium did not win the tender, but we have further developed this application and can now offer it to clients involved in the maritime structure sector.

Electronics design

Delta-sistems’ outlook on ship’s technology can be summarized in two words: no frills.
Our present electronics design reflects that outlook. However, having listened to clients carefully, we are now developing some extras, that will be offered as an option. These are a CANBUS connection; for system monitoring in the chief engineers quarters and a PLC (programmable logic controller); to control a large number of transducers from one point, eg sluice gates or similar large objects.
One component of our electronics design program that is essential to our philosophy is the development of a new PCB version, which will be able to withstand a short circuit in the transducer cable. These short circuits are now the most frequent reason to have to change a PCB. We aim at a PCB design that is so robust, that even this will not be needed anymore.

Client participation in research

For any of the above-mentioned research and development topics, we invite clients to participate. Any client that is interested, will be offered a 30% reduction in system costs, and of course, all additional research costs will be borne by delta-sistems. Research participation does not need to be for one vessel/maritime structure only. Delta-sistems is interested in long-term research participation projects. We only ask that we are allowed to publish the research results on our website and/or in other publications. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us.