Highlander’s Steady Climb Upward
Commissioning of the First Intelligent Bridge INS
A pair of 64 thousand ton oceangoing vessels built by Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd. has taken to sea equipped with the Highlander Intelligent Bridge INS (Integrated Navigation System), marking a turning point in the Chinese electronics manufacturer's steady climb to prominence in the ever competitive marine electronics industry.
Integrated navigation systems constitute one of the most technologically complex areas of today's shipbuilding industry. INS has long been the purview of foreign suppliers while domestic makers have played a comparatively minor role. The two Yangzijiang Handymax bulk carriers therefore represent something of a milestone for Chinese engineering. Since entering service in January 2015, the two vessels, designed for carrying precious bulk cargo such as grains, coal and ore, have been sailing with Highlander-made collision avoidance radar, electronic charting, heading control and automatic track-keeping. These advanced facilities provide for safer navigation in congested waterways and are highly beneficial to the ship owner because his vessels are rendered more competitive.
Marine Electronics: Ending the Foreign Cartels
As one of China's premier ship builders, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd. is favorable toward domestic suppliers of ships equipment. Asserts Mr. Yuanlin Ren, President of the Board in Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd.: “It is a bold and sound decision that brings us to use Highlander’s INS and we are altogether confident that Highlander’s marine electronics will help to spearhead domestic marine equipment into global markets. We are fully cognizant of having partnered with an extraordinarily competent company led by a highly charged, pioneering attitude. These people are creating innovative solutions to marine communication and navigation challenges. Highlander is our preference when it comes to communications and navigation equipment for both domestic and foreign ship owners and we are looking forward to greater cooperation with them as time goes on.”
The marine communications and navigation equipment sector is one of the least developed but most important of China’s marine industries. Artificial intelligence and information technology are intrinsic to raising the performance of electronic sensor systems on which the safety of navigation depends. The Highlander INS employs multi-function workstations which is where the ship's officer carries out route planning, voyage control, collision avoidance, navigation status monitoring, voyage data display and management and intelligent alarm awareness. Workloads are reduced. One-man bridge operation becomes reality. Safety of navigation is improved.
Highlander: A Beacon for "Made in China"
As with all its marine systems, developing INS required Highlander to embrace the performance standards laid down by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Each product is subjected to the extensive certification test procedures performed by international authorities, namely the members of IACS (International Association of Classification Societies) and CCS (China Classification Society).
Highlander is becoming ever more responsive to the needs of its shipowner customers. The company is investing heavily in its service network, conducting ever more frequent technical training courses for its many service suppliers around the World. Spare parts availability and competent field engineers are paramount to the overall success of a marine product brand.
In August 2014, Highlander and Shanhaiguan Shipbuilding Industry Co., Ltd. jointly held a conference entitled “A Seminar on the Expansion of Chinese-made Ships Communications and Navigation Equipment.” It was attended by experts from industry, universities and government. There were delegates from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China COSCO, ship builders and ship design institutes. Common ground was reached in a number of important areas: Intensification of R&D, improvement of product quality and strengthening of Worldwide after-sales service. There was consensus on the need for domestic shipyards and maritime enterprises to embrace a long-term view toward collaborating with producers of marine electronics equipment. Wherever and whenever possible, ships made in China ought to carry bridge electronics that are made in China. There is no good reason to support cartels of Japanese and European shipboard equipment in China. The excellence of Highlander's marine products should serve as an impetus for expanding Chinese domestic marine communications and navigation equipment.
The Highlander company is unwavering in its R&D philosophy: “Continue pushing ahead with its own R&D while at the same time facilitating ties with international counterparts.” The company is pledged to serve both commercial and Mil-spec customers with equal fervor. It is noteworthy that amongst Chinese producers of marine electronics products, Highlander is the only one listed publicly. Highlander will continue to develop new products, raise quality ever higher and strive for perfection in after-sales service. At the same time, Highlander will work tirelessly to strengthen its international competitiveness by teaming up with domestic ship owners, shipyards and ship design institutes. Highlander will most certainly not shy away from its committment to be the most innovative Chinese manufacturer.