Reducing wiring onboard:
Claudio Ballard, an inventor, has had many bright ideas. In 1981 he was the first integrator and reseller for Oracle. In 1995, he came up with the technology necessary to digitize checks, allowing clients and bankers to view the front and back of checks through computers or mobile devices, one of the foundations of online banking. Now, his fertile mind has moved onto something new and even more exciting. Ballard, CEO of VEEDIMS, believes this venture can change a lot about power distribution and management.
It’s hard to argue with this polished and convincing advocate of a technology that is beautiful in its apparent simplicity. Ballard is a boater, but it was a car that inspired him to create a better way to produce and manage electrical power. He was a fan of the Shelby Cobra roadster, but when he looked at it more closely, the engineer in him told him it could be much better. He started a car company. Iconic Motors, in partnership with AC, in 2011 launched a modern-day muscle car inspired by the original Shelby Cobra but packed with modern technology. If you can overlook the curves of this great looking carbon and aluminum honeycomb car and ignore the roar of its Nascar-derived Ford engine long enough to focus on what Ballard has to say about it, you’ll be easily convinced that the car’s most innovative attribute could indeed be its electrical system. The $475,000 car turns out to be an excellent platform to showcase how the technology called “Virtual Electrical Electronic Device Interface Management System” (VEEDIMS for short) works.
Oversimplifying it, it’s an Ethernet-based system of interchangeable high-capacity cables carrying both electricity and data, connecting components with their own IP address to a central communication hub. The system not only efficiently distributes power without heavy and complex bundles of cables, it collects and saves data to a cloud-based database, keeping track of all events that occur along the chain. “It is the future of intelligent design; the integration and automation of all manners of electrical and electronic systems,” Ballard says.
In addition to better delivery and control of electrical expenditure, the comprehensive system allows the delivery of analytics that can help manufacturers and suppliers track any technical or performance issues. Military-grade encryption protects the network and stored data from internet pirates.
While the system on the car is convincing, the automobile industry is a huge monster to tackle. Ballard then started searching for an industry that is more manageable in size, has a need for the technology and caters to people who have resources and connections. Here enters the boating industry. Ballard, who first showcased his invention at the 2012 Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show, has already made strides. Major boatbuilders who have seen the technology were impressed right off the bat. How could you not be? It has the potential to change everything about power management aboard boats, making them lighter and more fuel efficient in the process.
The big bundles of multicolored cables snaking their ways up and down the bulkheads through yachts of all sizes could become a thing of the past if VEEDIMS catches on the way Ballard hopes it will.
Each of the five tiers in the system architecture has its own benefit.
- Easy-to-install high-capacity cables accommodate both power and data. Everything works on a daisy chain (one component linked to the next in a straight strand). This eliminates the need for homerun cables and the setup eliminates 60 to 80 percent of cables, which saves on installation cost, labor, maintenance and of course overall weight.
- Each component on the chain has its own IP address and is able to “talk” to the next thanks to Ethernet. A proven technology and the backbone of the Internet, Ethernet operates just about everything, including power plants.
- One benefit of intelligent power management is the ability to start motors in sequence, thus reducing peek demand on startup. This means smaller wires, smaller generators and less fuel to run it all.
- The system collects data from every device (voltage, current, temperature, humidity and G forces); on engines, information such as rpm, and records whether valves are open or closed. The data is saved on a Cloud-based database, with virtually unlimited capacity.
- Not only is the data available for each component on a boat, but the database could store the information for an entire fleet.
For more information, see www.veedims.com