SMIDS – Ship Movement Information Display System


The navigators where using all these days a system for speed measurement and for docking purposes an equipment called "Doppler" docking device. There are plenty dis-advantages in this device. The ships required often dry-docking as these devices are placed underwater almost near the bow of the vessel. Often they get covered or the area get eroded by marine growths and corrosion effects. But the development of technology made these equipments irrelevant to the shipping industry. It is SMIDS which over took the Doppler devices. Lets discuss on the SMIDS.

What is SMIDS

satellite receivers

SMIDS is the acronym for Ship Movement Information Display System. It is a docking system which is being installed by numerous ships these days. It is appreciated for its accuracy and precision. It is also cost-effective. Certain ships may require highly accurate docking, transit and speed information all the time. So SMIDS is the answer for their requirement. It is also considered to be an effective replacement for current conventional Doppler systems.

SMIDS uses satellite systems for accurate precision docking, which was not possible with the Doppler systems. GPS and GLONASS are the two satellite receivers used independently to measure each and every bow and stern movements with respect to the ground,

giving a mean velocity better than +/- 0.02 knots.

. The diplay is located at the bridge wing and the wheel house show the heading course, transverse speed and the longitudinal speeds.

SMIDS – How Does It Work

The ship is installed with two satellite positioning system receivers placed on the bow and the stern. The receiver receives the information from these satellites and it electronically integrates with the ship’s conventional gyroscopic heading data. The rate of change of receiver’s position is calculated by the satellites and the information is de-coded as understandable values of forward and aft, port and starboard movements over the earth’s surface.

schematic representation

Doppler docking and speed log systems

These systems are into existence for plenty years. They have served the marine industry by providing reliable speed information. But problems with these systems are

  1. accuracy
  2. cost
  3. upkeep
  4. Maintenance. (dry docking required).

Advantages of SMIDS

  1. It can continuously provide accurate and precise information during docking.
  2. The system is unaffected by marine environment,
  3. Improved safe standards of docking for shuttle tankers and gas tankers.
  4. Does not require dry docking like Doppler docking systems
  5. Installation possible during voyage
  6. Sea trials not necessary
  7. No hull penetration in the bottom, thus resistance is reduced.
  8. No usage of special gate valves which are expensive
  9. Low cost makes it more advantageous.
  10. Does not suffer disturbances from thrusters, dredgers and other ship’s propellers which Doppler systems do.

Blue Tooth with SMIDS

Panama Pilot

The SMIDS has a hand held device, which has an option of turning on the Bluetooth. When turned on, the data related to ships navigation and environment are available in the small hand held device usually called as the “Panama Pilot”.

This Panama Pilot, a hand held device can be used as a wireless bridge wing docking repeater and when not in use with certain modifications the ships navigational and environmental data can be accessed from this hand held portable device. This may be taken even to the ship’s office and when Master confines himself to his cabin, he can have all the happenings in his desk by this hand held device.

It is amusing to note that it can also transmit engine room machinery status when it is programmed to do so. The transmission range is about 200 meters, with in which we can cover all events like lightering and towing operations with precision and highest level of safety. It is very important to note that the cost of SMIDS is half the total cost of the Doppler docking system and its accessories.