FAQ - X-CONNECT®
We try to answer any questions you might have on our new X-CONNECT® platform. Since there is a lot of interest and questions about our platform we have already answered a few frequently asked questions below.
If you have a question or like to get in touch, please send us a note on firstname.lastname@example.org or find contact details at the bottom of this site.
Q1: Is the ULSTEIN X-CONNECT® limited to a specific application area?
A2: No, the platform is built to provide application flexibility. The platform supports marine systems as well as industrial systems, or other systems that require automatic control. The platform is built for real-time applications, supporting both small and large-scale systems.
Q2: Why is X-CONNECT® based on Linux? Is the operator stations available for Windows?
A2: We believe that Linux offers a platform that is both reliable and cultivates real-time properties. It also offers endless configuration possibilities that helps us to create different types of applications while keeping the customer’s needs and wishes as first priority. Qt5 supports both Linux and Windows, thus the operator stations might be compiled to Windows. However, we will strongly recommend to run the applications based on the new platform in Linux.
Q3: What are the differences between the new Ulstein platform ( ULSTEIN X-CONNECT®) compared to conventional system architectures?
A3: The difference is that it is flexible and scalable, and does not have centralized servers. Low level integration on serial, CAN and analog/digital I/O are associated with the vendor specific hardware and software. Thus we are able to integrate without too much involvement into the details as long as the vendor has API (Application Programmable Interface) for their I/O.
Q4: What are the benefits of ”configure to order” compared to ”engineering to order”, and how does this affect me as a customer?
A4: The benefit is quality, as human errors due to manual project work is minimized. Also faster response for changes and deviations are possible. The documentation is also according to delivery, since this is also produced with the configuration tool-chain.
Q5: What about scalability?
A5: Since ULSTEIN X-CONNECT is general and has as few vendor specific bindings as possible, this enables us to run the system on a simple panel PC or controller up to a large-scale control system with 100.000 I/Os. The limitation in terms of scalability is related to the associated hardware and communication band-width.
Q6: Does ULSTEIN X-CONNECT support redundancy?
A6: Redundancy is provided through availability and reliability. As most redundant systems are running in pairs (HOT-STANDBY) or triple redundant, you do not get both availability and reliability. In both systems you have availability, but the reliability is reduced as you introduce more likelihood of error with extra redundant system. The way we have solved this issue is by segmentation. This is to split the control system into parts, that you as a end-user of the control system can decide the level of acceptable fault. Since all hardware eventually will fail, we have focused on what would happen and what to do with it.
Q7: Which logging mechanisms do ULSTEIN X-CONNECT® support/provide?
A7: The platform supports DDS, and the logging mechanism is provided through subscription of all data to a log database at a given sampling frequency. The stored data can also be retrieved, by queries to this database.
Q8: What measures have been taken towards assuring cyber-security in X-CONNECT®?
A8: The DDS middleware offers, among others, encryption and secure data transfer, which is a back-bone in cyber-security. Unused interfaces can easily be disabled (or blocked), and all access points (switches and routers) are monitored by the platform.
Q9: Does ULSTEIN X-CONNECT® allow customer-specific functionality?
A9: Yes, X-CONNECT® is built on an architecture that easily allows implementation of additional functionality. Functionality is not location-specific, meaning that functionality can be implemented and distributed on arbitrarily nodes in the system.
Q10: How does ULSTEIN X-CONNECT® support the operator in making good decisions?
A: We believe that the first step in making a good system that supports the operator is to present information in a clear and precise manner in one place, which will help the operator to safely survey the ship’s distributed systems. This is one of the fundamental ideas behind ULSTEIN BRIDGE VISION.
Q10: Can an installed system, which is based on X-CONNECT®, be easily reconfigured?
A: Yes, the configuration tool-chain is engineered to read a total system configuration, make the distributed software configurations and distribute the new configuration to right control nodes. In addition the system documentation is automatically updated to fit the new configuration.
Q11: Does Ulstein provide any training in using the products based on ULSTEIN X-CONNECT®?
A11: Yes, our service and aftermarket department will provide courses on X-CONNECT®. You can either book courses directly or attend planned courses.
Q12: What are the benefits of the X-CONNECT®’s configuration tool-chain?
A12: Flexibility, quality, connectivity and scalability. The tool-chain provides the necessary functionality that is needed to convert your requirements into a unique configuration with hardware, drawings, IO list, control system software with configuration and GUI.
Q13: Am I, as a customer, allowed, or have access to use the configuration tool-chain?
A13: Yes, this is possible when you become a partner of the ULSTEIN X-CONNECT consortium.
Q14: How would I proceed, as a customer, if I want to do any changes to the GUI/HMI or its mimics?
A14: You can either hire one of our service engineers, which can remotely help you, or take a GUI editor course yourself and get qualified for doing the changes yourself.
Q15: How is the process, as a customer, from ordering to installing a product based on the ULSTEIN X-CONNECT® platform?
A15: Our pre-sales / sales personnel will help and guide you through the wizards and provide you with a configuration. You can then choose to order the product on a fixed price basis. Installation and commissioning can also be ordered separately in case you prefer that.
Q16: Is Ulstein interested in me as a vendor?
A16: Yes, Ulstein is always open for cooperation with vendors if product, support and cost are within range. Please contact our product department. Find contact information below.