Bachmann supplies hardware for pioneering training ship

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Taking a classroom look over the captain’s shoulder

From one and a half years, the AB INITIO has been in operation as the new training vessel of the STC Group in the port of Rotterdam. This state-of-the-art inland vessel is considered a prime example of sustainable ship design. Bachmann provided the controller and the operating software.


The AB INITIO is forward-looking in every respect: During construction, recyclable materials were used, the hybrid propulsion system is prepared for future types of fuel, and some of the energy for passenger operation is generated from solar power.

With a length of 67 meters and a width of 8.2 meters, the AB INITIO not only provides accommodations and communal spaces for 39 passengers but also houses an innovative field laboratory for the exploration of new technologies in the maritime sector. The futuristic-looking design was developed and tested together with students. Thanks to 200 m² of solar panels, the AB INITIO generates part of the energy required on board itself. The ship is powered by an electric motor, with power currently supplied by two diesel generators and the batteries on board. The batteries can be recharged by those generators or in the port via a corresponding charging system, allowing the AB INITIO to cover short distances entirely emission-free.

Reliable technology

For the planning and installation of the electric propulsion as well as the control and automation of the technical systems the pioneer in the field of electric drive technology in inland shipping, Oechies Elektroniek, located in Rotterdam, could be enlisted. The company solved the complex energy management on the AB INITIO with the help of the compact and environmentally robust Bachmann controllers from the M200 system.

“We were excited about the AB INITIO from the very beginning.” says Joeri ten Napel, Key Account Manager at Bachmann, enthusiastically about the project. – A win-win situation for project manager Bram van Hengel from Oechies Elektrotechniek: “A key argument for Bachmann is its extraordinary availability of their PLC modules and the very good technical support.”

Browser-based control software

For operation and monitoring the browser-based webMI pro software is used which is directly integrated on the controller. webMI pro also allows the safe visual remote access demanded by the STC Group. As a result, students in the classroom can see what the captain on the bridge sees.

The complex energy system on the AB INITIO is handled by the M200 system, which can easily meet individual requirements thanks to its a wide range of powerful CPUs based on industrial (Pentium) processors and with an extensive range of I/O modules.

When the ship was designed, diesel-electric hybrid propulsion was one of the most advanced alternatives to the traditional diesel engine. However, it was important that the AB INITIO was prepared for innovations in the field of emission-free fuels.

The first test for this ship concept: together with the STC Group, the experts from Oechies installed a 45 kW hydrogen fuel cell a few months ago. This increased the range in emission-free operation. However, the approval processes are currently still a challenge: hydrogen is already being successfully used as an alternative fuel on transport ships. But for use on passenger ships like the AB INITIO, there is not yet a standardized approval process. Instead, a rather complex EU derogation procedure had to be gone through.


Bachmann electronic GmbH –

Oechies Elektrotechniek –


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