Great Circle Systems has been in the yacht IT business since 2000. Since we started, the popularity of on board computer systems has grown exponentially.
As vessels become larger and more sophisticated, and as our work and our entertainment become ever more reliant on high tech wizardry, there is a natural proliferation of on board information technology.
Designing and installing each technology in isolation can result in a hodge-podge of systems that are inefficient and difficult to maintain.
These days, many people who contact us for IT work already have an understanding that something must be done to organize their vessels ever-increasing technical systems. They just dont know how to begin the process.
The #1 question we get about integrated systems for vessels:
By far the most frequent question we get from customers considering an integrated system is, I know that I want my yachts systems to be integrated, but I also know that integrated systems are very complex and require a lot of knowledge and skill to do right. So how do I find a qualified person to design an integrated system for my yacht that will not only work from the start, but that is easy to maintain and can evolve over time as new technology becomes availabe?
That is a very good question that Ill try to answer today. If you read my blog post Integrated Computer Networks for Yachts: Pros and Cons, you understand that system integration involves combining existing and often disparate systems into one inter-related system composed of many sub-systems. The sub-systems are able to interact with each other under the over-arching system umbrella that manages them.
You also understand that implementing a successful integrated system on your vessel requires design, installation and maintenance expertise. But how do you find the right systems integrator for the job?
What is the role of a systems integrator?
First of all, lets talk about what a marine systems integrator does. According to Wikipedia, a systems integrator functions as a designer/engineer, bringing together a wide array of components from various manufacturers to accomplish the goal of creating a unified, functioning system that meets the needs of the client.
"Systems integrators are usually involved in the selection of instruments and control components from among various equipment manufacturers and vendors to determine the specific mix of output, function, interconnection, program storage, controls, and user interfaces required for the vessel.
A system integration engineer needs to have a broad range of skills, including:
software engineering skills
hardware engineering skills
interface protocol knowledge
strong problem-solving skills
Because all technical problems to be solved on the job cant be anticipated and have often not been encountered before, a systems integrator should be skilled at problem-solving and good at working with other people.
The systems integration engineer gets input from many individual system vendors and ultimately pulls the information together to create an over-arching integrated system.
5 tips for finding the right person for the job:
1. Find a consultant or company with a track record of designing, implementing and maintaining network systems for yachts.
Yachts are unique environments that due to space, technical, bandwidth and Internet issues, pose widely different systems integration challenges from those in a typical office or home environment. It is therefore inadequate to select a systems integrator solely upon his or her non-marine integration track record. You instead need to find someone who has integrated existing systems or who has planned systems specifically for vessels.
2. Choose a consultant with technical credentials.
Make sure the consultant or company you choose has a technical hardware and software background, with extensive experience in detailed data mapping and rules. The integrator should also understand that the vessel is both a business and a home. On board systems must serve a multitude of users, including owners, crew, guests and shore-side support personnel.
3. Ask for referrals and thoroughly follow up on them.
Get recommendations for systems integrators from trusted friends in the yachting community. If possible, go on board for a demonstration of how the different systems work together. Be sure to ask colleagues about the consultants technical expertise, communications skills and the individual's responsiveness when problems are reported.
4. Find a consultant with good written and verbal communication skills.
The systems integration engineer is responsible for coordinating systems from other vendors into a complex working system for your vessel. He or she must therefore be an expert communicator with vendors and you, the customer. Pay attention to written and verbal communication you have with a potential systems integrator before you make your hiring decision. Is he or she well-spoken and able to present written information in an organized, understandable manner? If not, you might want to look elsewhere.
5. Find a consultant with excellent problem-solving skills.
Since each systems integration project is different, a systems integration engineer should be used to encountering new and unique problems with every integration project. He or she should therefore be a creative problem-solver who is able to calmly analyze challenges and work through them to a solution. Steer clear of a systems engineer who seems frustrated or stuck when encountering technological problems.
Give Great Circle Systems a call.
You're probably not surprised to learn that Great Circle Systems has an experienced team of system integration specialists who can do the following for you:
- Analyze existing systems and develop an integration plan.
- Plan, implement and maintain an integrated system for a new build.
- Plan, implement and maintain an integrated system for a refit.
- Provide references of past and current integrated systems customers.
So give us a call at +1 954-546-3736, ext. 3 to discuss how we can help you, or schedule a chat with an integration specialist by clicking the green button below.