u-remote I/O modules from Weidmüller have been chosen by Horizon Integration to play a key role in the sophisticated control system the company has developed for Highland Fling 15, a new ocean-going monohull racing yacht that has been designed and built specifically as a high-performance racing vessel.

Supplied by LC Automation, a specialist Weidmüller distributor, the u-remote modules are installed in multiple locations around the vessel and communicate with the central programmable controller (PLC) via Ethernet, an arrangement that minimises the amount of cabling required and provides exceptional flexibility should modifications or extensions ever be needed.

“Highland Fling 15 is a very prestigious vessel,” said Stuart Harris, proprietor of Horizon Integration, a system integrator with wide experience of developing control systems for luxury and racing yachts. “It’s no surprise, therefore, that the owners of Highland Fling 15 specified only the very best and most dependable equipment should be used in it. For me, that meant the new Weidmüller u-remote I/O system was the only logical choice.”

“The modules are compact high-density types, which is key requirement as space is very limited aboard a yacht, and they need fewer power modules than other types of remote I/O, which saves even more space. Despite their small size, u-control modules are robust and reliable, and tool-free assembly and wiring means that they’re fast and easy to work with. In short, they’re the best choice not only for this project, but for almost any project where remote I/O is needed.”

The automation system developed by Horizon Integration for Highland Fling 15 handles all of the vessels most critical functions. These include throttle control for the engine used to power the yacht to and from races, raising and lowering of the prop shaft for the engine, control of hydraulic winches, and raising and lowering of the 25-tonne keel so that the yacht can safely enter shallow marinas.

Altogether, the u-remote system provides 130 digital inputs and 130 digital outputs, together with 45 analogue channels that are used principally in conjunction with the proportional valve controllers in the vessel’s hydraulic systems. The IP20 u-remote I/O modules are installed in the main control panel and in multiple other locations around the yacht, with all of the modules communicating via fast Ethernet links.

This description may sound straightforward but in reality the project involved many challenges. For example, the hydraulic systems were custom designed and manufactured to offer the very best performance possible and, as a result, interfacing them to the electrical control systems was a complex task. In particular, it was essential that a very fast response time should be achieved. However u-remote, used in conjunction with high-speed Ethernet, proved easily capable of meeting the demanding requirements.

“Weidmüller u-remote is a comparatively new system,” said Stuart Harris, “and this is the first time we’ve used it on a major project. In practice, it proved very easy to work with and, on the few occasions where we did have questions, Weidmüller provided us with responsive and very helpful support. In fact, we’re so impressed with the u-remote system – which combines excellent performance, reliability and flexibility with attractive pricing – that we are now going to standardise on it for all future projects. For Horizon Integration and its customers, there’s no doubt at all the u-remote is the way forward!”