- Travel made impossible owing to coronavirus lockdown
- Lack of direct contact with crew
- Need for uninterrupted connectivity for day-to-day operations
Based in the Netherlands with vessels deployed all over the world, workboat company Herman Sr turned to communications provision specialist Satmarin to deploy VSAT connectivity across its fleet of eight tugboats in multiple locations in April 2020. While the vessels are mostly active near shore and use 4G for primary communications, the always-on nature of their activities demands uninterrupted connectivity at all times and in all locations – a level of service which can only be guaranteed with VSAT.
“Covid-19’s first wave was wreaking havoc all over Europe,” recalls Satmarin’s Michaël De Coninck. “Usually VSAT installations and handovers benefit from at least a single visit to the vessel to install and plan properly, but travel restrictions and safety concerns prevented us from doing so.”
With their head office in Belgium and no means of placing any of their own personnel on board, Satmarin faced a challenge to set up the existing antennas. “Fortunately for us the existing vessels were already equipped with Intellian VSAT antennas, which we know have advanced remote configuration functionality, so we happily accepted the challenge,” recalls De Coninck.
- Intellian v85NX
- Intellian remote API access
- Remote management PC
- Physical assistance from crew
To extend VSAT connectivity to the new Damen Shoalbuster vessel Brutus, De Coninck explains: “As often on vessels with limited space for larger VSAT antenna models, they [Herman Sr] selected the Intellian Dual v85NX 16W combination to achieve reliable, high-quality data communication. The automatic cable loss compensation guarantees them the best possible signal for years to come.”
Thanks to Intellian’s focus on straightforward installation and modular, easily swappable components, practical tasks on board were carried out by the crew. “Having the possibility to rely on the crew’s capable hands for physical assistance (swapping LNBs and PCBs) made troubleshooting a breeze, but together with Intellian’s expert technical support it prevented us from having to travel,” says De Coninck.
For the existing installations, Intellian’s advanced remote capabilities made it possible to manage the entire operation from Satmarin’s HQ including a remote repair on the Tug Yogi v80G located in Brazil. “Our solution was to equip each vessel with a management PC and remotely take over the data communication part of the ship,” says De Coninck. “With over 20 years of remote management experience and Intellian NX’s extensive API capabilities, working seamlessly with Satmarin’s Hyper Managed Service platform, we had the tools to completely configure, manage and monitor the fleet’s VSAT, router/firewall and 4G network remotely.”
Intellian’s determination to streamline antenna installation and maintenance extends all the way from the initial logistics and delivering pre-slung antenna units right through to facilitating commissioning and diagnostics through its browser-based, remotely accessible AptusNX tools, teamed with market-beating customer service, logistics and warranties. This approach has proven timely given the events of 2020/21. “While in pre-Covid era, interventions and installations would have been an 80%-20% split between remote and on-site.” recalls De Coninck. “We have now evolved to nearly 100% remote service in 2021.”
Enabling remote service has significant benefits even as the world begins to open up again, saving time, money and the environmental impact of travel. “While we do miss personal contact with crew on board, sharing a coffee or a meal, the new normal has taught us that remote VSAT/IT configuration and maintenance is the way forward, saving time and costs,” says De Coninck.
Key to this is minimizing the need for expert engineering assistance on board when installing and commissioning satcom antennas, an area in which Intellian excels. “With VSAT being just four screws and a single cable away there is no reason for it not to be ubiquitous,” he concludes.
Solution Partner: Satmarin