Anglo Belgian Corporation looking to the future with integrated HMIs for the marine industry
Anglo Belgian Corporation (ABC), headquartered in Gent, Belgium, is a leading European manufacturer of engines for a variety of heavy-duty applications, such as marine propulsion, land-based power generation and locomotion. Here, Severijn De Ridder, Manager, Electrical Engineering and System Integration for ABC, explains how Beijer Electronics has helped provide flexibility and modularity to their engine interface solutions.
ABC was founded in 1912, and currently operates in over 120 countries with around 350 staff. The company manufactures more than 200 engines every year for clients in a variety of applications, with the largest and most powerful engines reaching up to 16,000 bhp. Around 85% of projects undertaken by ABC are within the marine industry.
In 2017, ABC was looking for a central HMI to connect and control the different systems operating within their engines. They needed a high-end HMI solution to optimize the needs of individual customers, and future-proof their design technology. Crucially, any new HMI needed to integrate the information from operator panels of engine equipment from diverse suppliers and operate in a modular and flexible way.
“I first came across Beijer Electronics more than ten years ago, when they launched their iX Developer software,” says Severijn De Ridder. “So, when we were looking for improved connectivity in our interface design and development process, Beijer Electronics was the obvious choice. I knew their HMI solutions would offer the functionality and flexibility we needed.”
"...when we were looking for improved connectivity in our interface design and development process, Beijer Electronics was the obvious choice."
The challenges of HMI integration
The engines produced by ABC are often large and heavy-duty: from 10 up to more than 100 tons in weight and operating at up to 16,000 bhp. Prior to 2017, the engines provided customers with a single basic interface with no additional communication protocols. This resulted in reduced efficiency and increased complexity when it came to trouble shooting or maintenance. And with limited space in a ship’s operations room, it was not always possible to incorporate multiple large displays for multiple engine systems.
As Severijn says: “The Beijer X2 marine HMI solved all our problems around integrating the various engine components into one operator panel. Operators are now able to access data from the main propulsion engine, gearbox, throttle control and other large components in the same place. We can now deliver a complete engine control system to our customers instead of separate, unconnected screens. One interface for multiple systems, from multiple suppliers.”
White-labelled design features and marine certification
With its 15” screen, the extensive driver list of iX and detailed setting options, the X2 marine can adapt to any engine application required by ABC’s customers. It has also been white labelled so that ABC’s branding and logos are integrated in the system, giving it a professional look and feel.
And, as with all X2 HMIs from Beijer Electronics, it meets the toughest certification standards in the industry.
“The marine sector is so important to us, it is critical that all the development we do is fully certified to regulatory industry and Marine Standards,” Severijn says. “But Beijer’s X2 panels also suit some of the other diverse applications we need, such as land-based power generation, locomotive and traction. In the mining industry, for example we have engines operating in extreme conditions on remote locations, so our displays need to withstand harsh conditions around vibration and temperature. Beijer Electronics give us the flexibility to meet any engine requirements we might have.”
A long-term partnership built on trust
ABC are now building Beijer HMIs into more of their engines. Around 40-50% of customer briefs are fulfilled using Beijer Electronics panels, and the plan is to fully standardize and integrate the X2 marine HMI into all their large, heavy duty engines in the near future.
Severijn says this development work will mean more customers benefit from intelligent, modular engine interfaces.
“For our bigger engines, we are now working towards fully-integrated X2 marine HMIs as standard. For the smaller engines, it is a value-add that more and more customers are choosing to take."
“For our bigger engines, we are now working towards fully-integrated X2 marine HMIs as standard. For the smaller engines, it is a value-add that more and more customers are choosing to take. Beijer Electronics has helped us solve our immediate challenges around modular interface solutions, but they also provide the prospect of long-term technical support, and room for future growth. Looking ahead, I am extremely confident that the relationship will continue to thrive as we develop and future-proof our engines.”