JetFlow System - New Generation of Boat Control
The JetFlow boat control system is a technology based on a new understanding of the safety and control of a vessel in movement or during mooring and anchorage. Basing our product on new thruster technology allows us to install the JetFlow system on all types of vessels, including those where the installation of traditional types of thrusters is impossible or difficult due to design features. These types of vessels are traditionally sailing yachts, catamarans and boats with low draft
The JetFlow boat control system offers the ability to control and manoeuvre the vessel with maximum efficiency. Vessels equipped with the JetFlow boat control system provide experienced captains with more options to control the vessel in extreme conditions, expanding the capabilities of the vessel.
For captains and skippers with limited experience, our system assists manoeuvering the vessel with more confidence and poise when mooring and avoids dangerous contact with other vessels. It also provides control of the position during anchorage. The features and capabilities of the system can thus significantly protect the private ship-owner’s expensive property.
For charter companies, the system not only protects their vessels from unwanted damages but also provides customers who charter the vessels with a higher level of control, safety and navigation acumen. Charter vessels equipped with the JetFlow boat control system have a great advantage from an insurance companie’s perspective and are granted full insurance coverage for risks and liability, including commercial risks.
Problem and solution
Although thrusters in one form or another have been installed on yachts and sailboats for decades helping captains and skippers with mooring, many shipyards now release new motor yachts and more so sailing boats, without equipping them with thrusters.
Existing solutions currently available on the market have a number of significant disadvantages in that they either do not allow the installation of a thrusting system on a vessel or their use is ineffective and can only operate within a short period of time. They also require serious structural changes within the hull of the vessel, which not only impact its seaworthiness but most importantly, violates the factory design of the boat.
Currently, the only widely used types of thruster is the «tunnel» variety and its installation requires making a significant hole in the bow of the vessel’s hull which greatly impairs its sailing performance; reducing the speed ability, increasing fuel consumption and making a cavity which weakens the hull. This is perhaps the reason for the reluctance of many shipyards to install existing bow thrusters as a standard option.
Another difficulty experienced by small and medium-sized sailing boats is the lack of space available for the installation of thrusters as opposed to motor yachts, which usually do have remaining space except for those with a very low draft. This is especially true for both sailing and motor catamarans that almost always have a narrow bow.
With regards to stern thrusters, the installation of an external tunnel is always necessary which, in the case of a sailing boat is also often impossible because of the rudder blade. Normal thrusters are limited to a continuous operation time of no more than three minutes.
Due to their inability to be installed on many vessels because of their construction, the option and effectiveness of a conventional type thruster is seldom a viable solution.
JetFlow elegantly solves all of the above issues by using a different technology.
The installation of the JetFlow control system does not interfere with the integrity of the vessel’s hull since all it requires is four exhaust nozzles with a diameter of 20 to 50 mm (depending on the size of the vessel).
Such small openings do not affect either the sailing performance or the structure of the hull. For many catamarans, our system would appear to be the only possible solution.
Using the latest technology and solutions allows us to offer a fully autonomous system, separated from the components of the vessel. Autonomy (operation without recharging) of the system is at least 15 full mooring cycles with a continuous operation time in each cycle of at least five consecutive minutes. The same capabilities allow continued control of the vessel at anchorage (preventing movement from the influence of wind, waves and currents, prevent the vessel from breaking off its anchor and subsequent dangerous uncontrolled movement and avoid unwanted contact between ships.
Technology of JetFlow system
All system components are manufactured by certified leading European enterprises, each complying with the European standards of technical requirements and conditions.
We pay particular attention to the reliability, durability and safety of our system. We therefore do not use stainless steel of any grade for parts of the system that come in contact with seawater, since in the absence of oxygen, this metal undergoes a corrosion process similar to that of ordinary steel.
Furthermore, we do not use plastics and composite materials, most of which will absorb water and can therefore fail over a relatively short period of time. Even coated and painted plastics have issues since seawater, especially in coastal waters, contains many elements such as sand, and abrasive material which under pressure, actively destroy any protective coatings.
Without exception, all the components of the JetFlow system which are in direct contact with seawater are made of a special bronze alloy with an extremely low chemical and electrolytic corrosion rate that does not exceed 0.002 mm per year. Among other materials, the special bronze alloy is composed of carefully tested chemical components such as tin, zinc and lead, as a result of which the alloy is remarkable for its high anti-corrosion and also anti-friction properties. It does work extremely well in situations where there is friction and increased mechanical stress.
Every element of the system which is constantly in contact with seawater such as the pump and its body, impeller, safety and control valves, exhaust and inlet nozzles, adapter tubes, splitters, nuts and washers are made out of our specific bronze alloy.
Two bow and two stern nozzles with a diameter of 20-50 mm (depending on the size of the vessel) are located on each side of the vessel at a depth of 100 mm below the waterline.
Both the inlet and the nozzles have two valves (safety and control). Nozzles are custom made for each vessel design out of our bronze alloy.
The safety valve, which is made out of our bronze alloy, can be manually closed to accommodate prolonged berthing or to undertake technical or repair work. Hence the electronic monitoring of the valves status requires all the valves to be manually opened before the system can be started.
The engineering of the electromagnetic control valves means that, when turned off and disconnected from the power supply, they automatically switch to and remain in the normal closed mode thus protecting the vessel against unwanted seawater entering the JetFlow system.
The components of the valve – its body and all other parts – are made out of our bronze alloy to enable continuous operation in contact with seawater.
The reaction speed of the solenoid valve to the open/close command is no longer than 500 ms.
All of the above engineering features are critical for both shipboard and insurance companies inspections which require all external valves (below the waterline) of the vessel to be and remain closed after the last crew member has disembarked.
Main components of jetflow system
The JetFlow system uses a high performance pump, which has been specifically designed for seawater applications.
One important feature of our pumps is that they are self-priming and able to operate in dry conditions. Thee time-consuming system filling with water and the need for additional water pumping valves and air bleeding is eliminated. The pump offers significantly increased reliability and improved ease of operation.
Because of its unique features, the JetFlow system can be easily added when planning speedboats and vessels. During normal vessel operation, water will be flushed out of the JetFlow system because of gravity. On activation, the pump will then work shortly without water until primed. Our pumps are designed to operate this way causing no damage whatsoever to any element. Both the design of the pump’s impeller and the material from which it is manufactured allow the pump to freely drain small objects and sand without harming the entire structure.
The JetFlow system uses a BLDC permanent magnet electric motor, which is brushless, ignition free and water sealed by IP68.
The electric motor runs on 48V and is highly reliable in challenging operating conditions. Not only is there no brush wear but the separated electronic control of the motor windings offers the ability to manage the speed of the electric motor thus controlling the power output at the motor shaft as well as the consumption of electrical energy.
The main feature of the electric motor is its low power consumption combined with high torque as well as its small size and weight compared to the traditional electric motors used in conventional thrusters. The electronic controller constantly monitors the motor’s operation and load, which eliminates the possibility of overheating and burnout thus ensuring long-term and reliable use.
Magnetic joysticks control the bow and stern nozzle valves and also provide access to the various modes and combinations offered by the system. By applying different force when pressing the control joysticks, captains and skippers choose the desired power strength of the system depending on the situation and the weather conditions.
When the joystick is pressed in a certain direction, the nozzle from the opposite side opens and turns the vessel in the desired direction. By using both joysticks and applying different pressure, the skipper/captain can adjust the speed of the vessel’s movement into the given direction.
By simultaneously pressing both joysticks in one direction, the vessel moves laterally in the desired direction. When the upper joystick is pressed up, both bow nozzles will operate. When the lower joystick is pressed down, both stern nozzles will operate. When both joysticks are pressed simultaneously, upper one to the up position, and the lower joystick to the down, then all four nozzles will operate at the same time. If both joysticks are pressed simultaneously towards each other, the «alternating mode» is activated, causing the two bow and two stern nozzles to operate in cycle. These additional modes are key to avoid unwanted and dangerous contact between vessels when they are closely moored.
When the mode «Anchorage» is engaged, the JetFlow system switches to automatic operation. The system receives information about the movement of the vessel from the electronic gyroscopic sensor and holds the vessel in a predetermined position. This function is extremely important for safe and comfortable anchorage since under the influence of wind, waves and currents, the vessel can move from its original position when the anchor and anchor chain are laid and as a result there is then the possibility for dangerous, uncontrolled movements of the vessel towards the shore or other vessels.
As an additional option, in case of an emergency, the JetFlow system can act as a high-performance bilge pump for flooding water and an additional bilge intake valve is installed.
Central Controller of the JetFlow System
The central controller monitors and controls the operation of the entire JetFlow system by collecting information about the state of the system from components including the pressure sensors, the motor controller, the battery controller and the electronic gyroscope. Depending on the number of nozzles opened simultaneously, it changes the speed of the electric motor thereby maintaining the necessary system performance. In automatic mode, using information received from the gyroscopic sensor, the central controller independently operates the nozzles in order to hold the vessel in the required position.
Pressure sensors are located across different parts of the system. Based on the data they provide, the central controller manages the operation of the electric motor, the pump and the inlet valve and thus maintaining the power required by the system.
The new generation of Li-ion Batteries are small in size, lightweight and of high capacity and are specially designed to work with the BLDC electric motor. They allow longer use of the system without the need to recharge them, therefore we do not connect them to the vessel's generators, service or starting batteries. Our own charger is installed to charge batteries only when connected to a power source on shore in a harbour or marina.
Our batteries keep their nominal voltage as they discharge and are made out of IP68
Our batteries are equipped with controllers and protected against short circuiting and overloading.
A full charge of the batteries is sufficient for multiple (at least 15) vessel manoeuvring sessions and mooring/unmooring operations and the system can operate continuously for more than one hour.
The battery charger receives information from the batteries’ controller when it is necessary to charge them and when on-shore power is available, it will charge the batteries.
Advantages of the JetFlow System
JetFlow can assist the vessel to manoeuvre should there be a failure in the main steering system and it can act as a back-up bilge pump system to efficiently pump water out of a vessel.
All exhaust nozzles in our system can work simultaneously and unlike existing systems on the market we have a reaction time to a command of maximum 500 ms.
The JetFlow system is designed, selected and adjusted specifically for each vessel, taking into account all its technical data such as its type and size, tonnage, lateral windage of the vessel and lateral resistance of the hull and the underwater parts of the vessel.
JetFlow can be used as an additional protective mechanism when mooring in a narrow space between other vessels preventing any unwanted approach that may cause damages to the sides of the vessel.
Thanks to the high-precision electronic gyroscope, the JetFlow system can provide an accurate positioning of the vessel during movement, manoeuvres and anchorage.
Holds the vessel’s position against the influence of wind, waves and currents during automatic turning of the vessel by 180 (or any other) degrees.
Provides automatic holding of the vessel’s position in anchorage. Preventing unauthorized turn and moving of the vessel, which may result from anchor's move and drift to the shore or to the other vessels moored nearby.
In mode “Berthing” the system holds the required course of the vessel and registers all vessel’s deviations from desired course in order to compensate it.
By connecting the system to the electronic controls of the main engines, it can hold a given position, which can be very handy for diving, fishing or any other actions that requires a stable and defined position of the vessel.
In the case where all four nozzles of the system have been activated, they can be used as an emergency (immediately) stopping device, which will freeze the moving of the vessel.
Also, this function can be used to push apart closely moored vessels at the harbour hence creating enough space in order to safely leave the berth place or preventing unauthorized approach to the pier or other vessel.