Rockwell and the US Navy Office of Naval Research have agreed to develop and demonstrate an integrated automation and control system for Navy ships. The goal of the program, to be pursued jointly with the Rockwell Science Centre and Rockwell Automation, is to develop an integrated automation system that integrates the controls of a ship's major systems (propulsion, engineering services, weapons control, etc.) under varying conditions.
An integrated system gives ships added flexibility in system upgrades and provides significant 'ease of use'" advantages compared to physically separate control networks that exist on ships today. Benefits to the Navy from the programme include significant increases in the survivability of ships in battle conditions; major cost savings through reduced manning, equipment acquisition, and maintenance; as well as immediate global access to spare parts and support personnel. Implementing industrial control solutions on Navy ships should also result in an improvement in the quality of shipboard life by automating many of the more tedious and repetitive data acquisition and watch standing chores.
The ship automation systems will be composed of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and advanced intelligent software for managing a ship's engineering plant. The hardware will be based on open-architecture networks that are widely used in the industrial automation market and in Rockwell Automation's ControlLogixTM family of controllers.
Innovations include intelligent diagnostic and control software operating at all ship system levels as well as wireless sensor networks for condition monitoring that will complement the conventional hard-wired network, available on standby in case the latter is damaged.