The Pay As You Sail (PAYS) system allows users to begin the licence period on the ENCs that they require only when the vessel actually sails into the area covered by the chart.
NAVTOR uses vessel tracking data, collected every 90 minutes via AIS (both satellite-based and coastal) or directly by Inmarsat-C polling, to determine when the vessel has entered the area and when the licence period should begin.
“The service makes all ENCs immediately available, free of charge for planning purposes. Once you start sailing, only the ENC charts actually used for navigation are automatically calculated and charged,” explains Jan Helge Skailand, NAVTOR’s development manager.
“Hence it’s not only more convenient, it is also far more economical and transparent, as the web-based ENC portfolio management tool NAVTOR NavTracker is included as part of the service.”
ENCs are provided by PRIMAR, and the whole global folio of available charts is provided to the vessel on a secure USB memory stick.
Updates to charts can be imported to the USB stick via any PC with an internet connection (over satellite or in port), and then transferred to the ECDIS. Weekly updates are typically of an order of about 3MB.
The dynamic licensing concept is not a new one, with Dutch chart company Datema launching a system in 2009 where all ENCs would be available for viewing and planning purposes, but would not need to be licensed until the ship entered the chart area.
However, the roll out of that service had to be postponed following objections from UKHO, which disagreed with PRIMAR (also ENC supplier to the Datema service) on the issue of whether viewing and use of electronic charts for passage planning should mark the beginning of the licence period.
This debate took about two years to come to a conclusion, with the UKHO-led IC-ENC granting approval of the service under certain conditions from April 2011.
The Datema service differs significantly from the NAVTOR service in terms of ship tracking however, with Datema providing its own tracking unit to the ship. NAVTOR's system does not require installation of any hardware or software to operate.
“The team at NAVTOR saw the opportunity to completely rethink the mechanisms for chart supply with the user, the navigator, as the number one priority,” saids NAVTOR marketing manager Willy Zeiler.
“The system facilitates seamless chart management on the bridge. It not only eases the navigator’s workload, but also increases safety and security at sea.”
NAVTOR is also introducing a NAVSync ENC Updating feature with the service, an online system which ensures that the ENC database is always right up to date before setting sail.
The company says that the PAYS product has been trialled on board the Norwegian cruise ferry Bergensfjord for a number of months, with the testing monitored and controlled by DNV before it granted its approval.
“Our aim is to make the difficult easy and this product is true to that objective,” said OEM manager Bjørn Kristian Sæstad.
“NAVTOR has only been in the market for around eight months, but we have already made agreements with some of the major ECDIS manufacturers to join forces and implement technology that really offers the market a seamless e-navigation solution.”