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Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Engine control system tackles processing power bottleneck

Mon 18 Mar 2019 by Gavin Lipsith

Engine control system tackles processing power bottleneck
Modular build and a focus on communications capability will future-proof the new control sytem

Demand for more control functions and the integration of new components are behind the overhaul of control architecture for one designer of marine two-stroke engines.

WinGD is to roll out a new engine control system with improved processing power from next year. WinGD Integrated Control Electronics (WiCE) will replace the current WECS and UNIC control systems, each initially designed more than 15 years ago.

General manager control and automation Dr Wolfgang Östreicher told Marine Propulsion that the high data acquisition and control demands on a modern engine meant that current control systems had become heavily loaded. A modern dual-fuel engine, for example, requires monitoring and control for liquid fuel injection, lubrication, gas admission, pre-injection and NOx sensing among others, with further demands if NOx aftertreatment is used with diesel operation.

“You can add new modules as more components are needed, but then communication between modules becomes the bottleneck,” he said. The increasing digitalisation of shipping, as well as the prospect of having to integrate other hybrid power sources, are only expected to grow the burden on engine control systems.WiCE will address these issues by adding a dedicated communications module, including a firewall, through which the system can link to diagnostics systems and receive software updates. The bus system, which allows communication between modules, will receive a substantial upgrade compared to existing control systems.

The system is fully modular at both software (system and applications) and hardware levels. It will be prepared for future upgrades, with each component being verified and validated separately. This will mean that when adding new modules, only that module and the performance of the system will need to be validated, rather than re-validating all other modules.

Crew operating the engine onboard should not notice a difference between the new WiCE interface and earlier WECS or UNIC architecture, except for a more modern design. WinGD expects crew familiar with two-stroke engines to be able to use the controls after one five-day training period.

Further details of the new system will be presented to engine users and builders at CIMAC Congress in June.

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