Humphree introduces motion monitor system to U.S. market

A Swedish company that makes vessel stabilization systems has developed equipment that monitors a ship’s movements at sea.

Humphree’s Vessel Motion Monitor uses sensors to measure the forces buffeting a ship’s hull. The captain can use that data to understand in real time how sea conditions are likely affecting passengers and crew.

The monitoring equipment can record impacts against the hull for future analysis, and an add-on feature measures bow movement up and down.

Kent Lundgren, president of Humphree USA, said the product was designed for ease of use.

“If we are talking about a user interested in measuring and viewing the forces the vessel is subject to, they will see that in real time on a very simple display,” he said in a recent interview. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on.”

Humphree, of Gothenburg, Sweden, introduced its vessel motion monitoring system in the fall, and its target customers include excursion boats, offshore supply vessels and passenger ferries in the 50- to 400-foot range. There are also uses for the military and offshore oil and gas industries.

“In Europe, there are some regulations in place where you can’t subject the crew or passengers to forces beyond (a certain level),” Lundgren said. “For that purpose, the captain needs to understand and see what is going on in the vessel at all times.”

Its existing customers in Europe include companies that service offshore wind farms. Humphree has no American customers but is trying to break into the U.S. market.

Vessel monitoring systems rely on sensors that measure average and peak impacts against the vessel, and heave and sway in response to those forces. Humphree’s product also displays a “seasickness index” based on an algorithm developed by J.F. O’Hanlon and M.E. McCauley in 1974. The readings are displayed on a small device mounted near the controls.

The system can be programmed to alert the captain when the ride reaches preset impact levels. If the vessel surpasses that threshold, the captain would know to slow down or take other actions to improve the ride.

Humphree’s system can be integrated with its existing ride control systems, but it can also work as a standalone product. The monitoring system requires at least one sensor. Multiple sensors can provide data from different locations on the vessel.

Additional components can record vessel motion data on a hard drive that can be accessed when the ship reaches port. Fleet operators, for instance, could track the forces their vessels are subjected to over time and determine whether the crew handled certain sea conditions appropriately, Lundgren said.

A special sensor can be installed in the bow to record movement up and down. This “landing sensor” helps vessels adhere to European Union rules for safe disembarkation.

Humphree joins a growing list of companies offering vessel monitoring systems. 

Ship Motion Control offers sensors that measure a vessel’s heave, roll and pitch. Its systems can log vessel data and connect to the Internet, Richard Janas, a project manager for the company based in Malta, said in an email. Its systems have alarm settings and data processing to calculate heave rate and can be integrated with GPS and compass instruments. Most customers choose to have the data displayed over a PC monitor. 

“Typically the system runs connecting one motion sensor into one system, but we do have systems running more than one motion sensor at the time,” Janas said. 

Ship Motion Control targets the offshore oil and gas industry and its products are available worldwide, including in the U.S. 

Kongsberg Maritime and James Fisher Strainstall, based in Norway and England respectively, are among the other companies selling vessel motion monitoring products. Attempts to reach those companies were not successful. 

Humphree tried to distinguish its system by offering an extremely easy-to-read display. Lundgren said some other products on the market provide a dizzying amount of information.

A standalone Humphree system with a sensor installed in the passenger compartment usually costs less than $10,000, Lundgren said. Prices will vary depending on how long the vessel is, which determines how much cable is necessary, among other factors.

Additional sensors cost about $3,500, and the landing sensor that measures movement in the bow costs about $6,000. The device that records ship motion costs another $3,500 or so.

“Depending on how many sensors there are and what type of equipment is in the vessel, it could be anywhere from about $9,000 to $20,000 or in that range,” Lundgren said.    

By Professional Mariner Staff