All systems go

L-3 Valmarine is a major supplier of automation and navigation systems to advanced vessels worldwide. Initially founded in 1979, Valmarine became part of the L-3 Corporation in 2005, maintaining its headquarters in Norway, which is supported by a branch office in Finland and co-operative partners in Italy, France, Singapore, China and Korea. The company works in close co-operation with SAM Electronics in Hamburg, which is another L-3 company. Each system is designed with a high degree of automation and safety, enabling installation on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and offshore vessels, as well as on naval vessels.

Over its 30-year history L-3 Valmarine has delivered over 700 systems, developing a leading position in the cruise vessel market. “The core of our business has always been integrated automation systems (IAS),” explains Captain Odd Vidar Vollene, vice-president of sales and marketing. “We currently cover more than 60 per cent of the global cruise ship market for these systems. As well as IAS we also have a department focused on integrated bridge systems (IBS) for advanced vessels such as small to medium sized naval ships. Currently we have 34 navy vessels on order or being delivered for these systems, for clients such as the United Arab Emirates Navy and Indian Navy. Previously we have supplied our systems to the Norwegian Navy and the Swedish Navy.” These IBS are designed to meet the demanding requirements of naval and commercial vessels with adaptability for special functions as required. Main functions include ARPA radar, ECDIS/WECDIS, AIS/WAIS, track steering and VDR, which are all accessible from any multifunctional workstation.

In order to maintain its envious reputation, L-3 Valmarine pays particular focus to ensuring its quality and efficiency standards remain high. “I consider our key strengths to be our redundancy, reliability and safety. We have a tradition of modernising or replacing our technical platform every ten years, so recently we launched our next generation IAS, the VALMATIC Platinum, at the SMM Hamburg exhibition earlier this year,” highlights Captain Vollene. With a vast experience in the industry L-3 Valmarine is able to pinpoint the qualities that contribute to a successful automation system and the key considerations of the current market.

He continues: “When we began development work on the new VALMATIC Platinum IAS we took into account all of the experience we had gained through the old platform, and the aspects that customers within the market wanted incorporated. For our customers a good automation system is a reliable and durable system. They are building vessels to last for up to 40 years and they want a system that will last. At the moment we have systems onboard ships that we delivered almost 30 years ago, which are still running and being serviced by our team. This service is one of the key areas we focus on to ensure that we maintain a team of competent service personnel and engineers.”

The new VALMATIC Platinum IAS is designed with reliability, safety and a high level of integration in mind. The system is complemented by the next generation navigation and automation platform NACOS Platinum developed by SAM Electronics. Looking at the advantages and benefits of the new VALMATIC Platinum platform Odd comments: “One of the key features of the new platform is its ability to be fully integrated with both automation and navigation systems enabling information to be transferred and processed by both networks. Increasingly this integration is something we see in specifications from shipyards so, as displayed at the SMM exhibition in Hamburg, the NACOS Platinum IBS can be combined seamlessly with the VALMATIC Platinum IAS. This capability also reduces the number of spare parts required as both systems use the same technology and hardware.

“L-3 deliver two types of automation systems – one for the low to mid-end market by SAM Electronics and the VALMATIC Platinum which is focused for the high-end market. Often the high-end market requires a number of customised options or functions, so with this system we can tailor it to whatever the customer requires,” says Captain Vollene.

Naturally creating new products such as these requires an investment of time and funds into research and development. “R&D has been extremely important for us over the past year,” he explains. “The development and launch of our new technology platform for automation systems has been in parallel with SAM Electronics development of its Platinum system range. One of the biggest benefits to come out of the development is the hardware, which can be used in a number of different systems, as the same computers and other hardware are used in different areas of the vessels. For the next couple of years this will be a continued area of focus using similar tools for engineering and looking at where we can apply this to other product groups.”

Although the shipping market has experienced a number of difficulties following the recession, the fantastic reception of the VALMATIC Platinum at the SMM is a positive boost for L-3 Valmarine. “We have taken advantage of the market downturn and used the time to carry out R&D work, which has put us in a strong position now the market is beginning to show signs of an upturn. Increasingly companies are enquiring about our VALMATIC Platinum IAS, including new clients, and we are already aiming to install the system in one of the new-build cruise ships,” describes Captain Vollene.

Reflecting on the future ambitions of L-3 Valmarine, he concludes: “We are increasingly looking at projects in the offshore market, as our next generation system is ideal for use in all kinds of offshore activities because of its reliability and redundancy. The offshore market is certainly more of a future focus for us than it has been before. Although we are bidding on certain offshore contracts, our primary goal is to maintain our position as a lead supplier to the cruise industry. Through our co-operative relationships with SAM Electronics we believe that we can become a very strong presence within the total market capable of supplying large packages to the shipbuilding industry. This includes fully integrated automotive, bridge and dynamic positioning systems drawing on the expertise already incorporated by L-3 Corporation.”

Supplier of advanced automation systems

Launched new VALMATIC Platinum system

Part of L-3 Corporation