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Wireless Man-overboard Detection System

Background
Globe Electronics is an engineering and R&D company specialising in active safety at sea and offering a wide range of services extending from research and development into specific onboard electronic products in accordance with specifications to the production of prototypes, pre-production and mass production. Specialising in data acquisition and processing, onboard information systems and mobile global positioning systems (radio, GPRS or satellite), Globe Electronics carries out most of its work in the maritime sector but is also active in a wide variety of sectors, such as television production, avionics, transportation, etc.

As a subsidiary of the OP GLOBE group, Globe Electronics is supported by the group’s expertise in distribution and logistics. Furthermore, in addition to its own products, Globe Electronics is the exclusive distributor in France of a range of marine products.

Making a Flexible and Reliable Solution
In the maritime sector, Globe Electronics endeavours to provide its customers with increasingly advanced and innovative solutions to ensure crew safety. It was with this objective in mind that the company had the idea of developing a man- overboard detection system. This safety system had to be capable of being adapted to ships of all sizes all over the world. Therefore, a system had to be found which would work on a universal frequency and which could be networked.

“The Sea Belt is an innovative solution for maritime safety,” said Jean-Claude Valentino, Technical Director at Globe Electronics. “In order to make this product as efficient as possible, we sought a reliable and high-performance wireless connectivity system to secure transmitter units networking.”

After studying the available options at length, Globe Electronics chose the XBee® 802.15.4 embedded RF module, a product from Digi International, because of its reliability, functionality, low-power consumption and its suitability for adaptation and extension.

Digi’s XBee 802.15.4 module is incorporated into the equipment to provide wireless connectivity. This module uses the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol for rapid network management, both in point-to-multipoint and point-to-point networks. It has been specially developed for highly sophisticated applications requiring low latency and predictable timing of communication.

“Given that the Sea Belt system must be usable worldwide, we needed a system that operates on a universal frequency. That is why we have chosen to incorporate the XBee 802.15.4 designed by Digi International,” said Jean-Claude Valentino.

Based on a network protocol with multiple interfaces, the system devised by Globe Electronics consists of a scanner which constantly scans the network, determined by the boat in this case, and continually checks for the presence of all the units located at the end of the network, i.e. the transmitter units worn by each of the crew members. If any of these transmitter units are absent, the system is then able to send an audio and/or visual alert and will cause the boat’s engine to cut out.

Thanks to the interconnection unit which includes a RabbitCore® RCM4100 module, this system can also be used to trigger a series of other pre-determined actions, for example sending a distress message.

“The Rabbit core module allows us to extend the performance of our product by integrating more functions, such as stopping a boat’s motor or sending a warning or distress signal, etc. These features provide a real added value to the Sea Belt,” mentioned Jean-Claude Valentino.

This product, which has been marketed under the name of Sea Belt since November 2009, is initially intended for fishing and pleasure boats. It was Globe Electronics’ flagship product at the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam in November 2009. It is currently the only product in the world to be approved by the merchant navy.

Jean-Claude Valentino concluded, “The solutions of Digi International played a vital role in the quality of the Sea Belt, and this success is also due to the support of its sales team who demonstrated a good understanding of our needs.”
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“Given that the Sea Belt system must be usable worldwide, we needed a system that operates on a universal frequency. That is why we have chosen to incorporate the XBee 802.15.4 designed by Digi International.”

 - Jean-Claude Valentino, Technical Director, Globe Electronics

Application: Man-overboard detection system

Industry: Fleet/Transportation

Company: Globe Electronics www.globe-electronics.fr

Challenge: Globe Electronics wanted to develop a man-overboard detection system that could be deployed globally and used on a range of different vessels.

The Solution: XBee® 802.15.4 RF modules embedded into transmitters create an onboard wireless network. If a transmitter leaves the range of the network an alert is sounded and the ship’s engine shuts off.

More about XBee® modules and the RabbitCore® RCM4100
Digi’s XBee embedded RF modules bring wireless network connectivity to a wide range of remote end-point devices. Products in the XBee family are easy to use. They require no configuration or additional development for out-of-the- box RF communications.

Key Features:
• 2.4 GHz for worldwide deployment
• Low-cost, low-power networking
• Simple topology to deploy and grow

The RCM4100 microprocessor core modules are compact, powerful control devices for embedded applications that require I/O control, data handling, and peripheral connectivity.

Key Features:
• Rabbit® 4000 at up to 58.98 MHz
• 512K Flash, 256K or 512K Data SRAM
• Low-power modes
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