Indigo Solution to Reduce Energy Costs in Marinas and Camp Grounds

December 01, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

The PASS'PORT solution from Indigo Instruments (Marseille, France), the first integrated energy management, reservation booking and control application of its kind, is designed to reduce operating costs by up to 25% in ports and marinas. PASS'PORT is being introduced this week at the Salon Nautique International de Paris event in France.

"Marina and port operators are looking for a way to increase their level of service in order to make their harbors more attractive to boat owners across the Mediterranean's large network of pleasure ports. Our unique solution offers dramatically improved energy efficiency and energy theft prevention to marina operators, enhanced security to marina patrons, and increases convenience and customer loyalty while generating new business opportunities for harbors to sell added-value services such as remotely controlled alarms on boats," said Emmanuel Baret, INDIGO Instruments' CEO.

Typical factors increasing operational costs for marinas include electricity theft when boat owners plug into electrical outlets without authorization, accounting for up to 10% of all energy costs. The physical check-in procedure required upon arrival to turn on and off electricity and water supplies increases operational expenses by approximately 15% annually. Other cost-escalating items include overseeing security access and lighting control for the port, which currently allow no customization to the standard on/off schemes or schedules.

INDIGO Instruments' PASS'PORT solution remotely monitors and controls various subsystems in pleasure ports and marinas. Installed on each pier are multiple electric and water distribution cabinets which can accommodate up to four boats each. Each cabinet houses devices based on power line signaling technology from Echelon Corporation, such as switches, valve controllers, and energy meters, all accessed via Echelon's i.LON® 100 e3 Internet Server. Other devices on the power line based network include door controllers, access cards, and lighting controllers for outdoor lighting, air and water temperature sensors, and wind speed sensors. The installation utilizes existing electricity wiring to reduce the costs of implementing the system and achieve the reliability requirements of the target market.

The solution allows harbor masters to remotely connect and disconnect electricity in individual boat slips, measure how much electricity was used by each occupant for billing purposes, and manage other systems such as security access control and lighting systems for the entire port. Harbor masters can become more efficient in day-to-day operations, saving time by remotely identifying and resolving failures or alarms, and by forecasting maintenance repairs and downtime. Moreover, energy costs can be effectively measured and allocated to a specific boat, simplifying the billing process.

The system will be adapted for use in camping grounds to allow self-service check-in for campers and recreational vehicle campers, allowing the distribution of electricity, water, access control, wireless Internet, and swimming pool automation. The increased convenience will enable after-hour check-ins without employing extra staff, creating a substantial savings for camp ground owners and operators.

"We are pleased to be a part of this unique solution that exemplifies the value of an open control networking approach to energy and remote monitoring and control solutions," said Bea Yormark, Echelon's president and COO. "There are real, measurable benefits to be gained by utilizing control networks to modernize common tasks and processes. This can help any business become more efficient, maximizing budgets and staff allocation, and help to reduce energy and maintenance costs."