Anyone who has dropped anchor is aware of the problem: the ground is often unsuitable, resulting in unwanted movements of the anchor and thus of the entire ship. A Swiss start-up has developed a system to prevent precisely that.
Despite advanced navigation equipment, it is not currently possible for a ship's crew to know in real time whether, by how much and how fast the anchor is dragging. The result? Even the most careful throw of an anchor can be devastating, posing a significant threat to fragile marine ecosystems and, in a worst case scenario, causing environmental damage.
Patented technology to monitor the ship’s anchor
The Swiss start-up Swiss Ocean Tech, founded by experienced sailor Thomas Frizlen and five other co-founders, has developed new technology to make the anchoring process safer. Their product, AnchorGuardian, offers a new dimension of safety at sea by minimising the risk of anchor dragging, providing predictions and triggering immediate alarms. The technology monitors the movement and position of a ship’s anchor and delivers intelligent data to support the crew while laying and lifting the anchor. It also provides immediate, fail-safe alarms with a high-level of sub-meter accuracy. The patented technology operates independently of GPS and any movement of the ship.
Algorithms for early warnings
Additionally, AnchorGuardian predicts the anchor hold with early warnings and provides essential information while laying the anchor, while anchored, and while lifting the anchor. For the first time, using sensor fusion and sophisticated algorithms, the technology can build a stable dataset of the anchor’s relative and absolute position, providing reliable information over the entire anchoring procedure.
The focus of our efforts is safe anchoring, as anchoring needs to be simplified. We give captains the information and control they need to drop anchor in the best possible way, anchor in the best possible way, and monitor this in real time.
The dangers associated with dragging anchors are manifold. Dragging can damage marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, and also cause oil spills, collisions with other boats and damage to underwater pipelines.
Production set to start in 2023
The first prototypes were installed on super yachts in the Mediterranean in 2021. AnchorGuardian is also being used in a pilot project by a large Asian shipping company on a merchant ship. The findings from these tests will all be incorporated into the final product, which is set to go into production in 2023. To accelerate its market entry, the company has raised CHF 1.5 million in a pre-series A financing round.