In March of 2015, AML Oceanographic launched Data•Xchange™, a WiFi device with integrated GPS designed to increase efficiency and automation in the historically tedious process of SVP data collection. Upon surfacing, Data•Xchange™ transfers collected data through an automated WiFi link between profiler and computer at a rate 40 times faster than via cable. The former requisite of plugging and unplugging cables is eliminated, improving workflow by streamlining the process.
As a product inherently different than AML’s usual developments – instruments and their sensors – preparing Data•Xchange™ for release presented new challenges with a correspondingly high engineering risk profile. Seamless install and use were paramount. To graduate Data•Xchange™ from hypothetical process to real world workflow, Beta units were sent out to customers to test in the field. A crucial stage in the creation of the finished product leaving AML’s warehouse today, the Beta trial program began in December of 2014 and finished in early 2015. Participating organizations included Canadian Hydrographic Services, Seahorse Geomatics, Public Works & Government Services Canada, QinetiQ, eTrac Inc., and others through our agents.
A company particularly keen to try Data•Xchange™ was eTrac Inc. A hydrographic services firm headquartered in San Rafael, California, eTrac had recently been awarded a 5 year contract under NOAA's Office of Coast Survey to perform hydrographic surveys to aid in the updating of published nautical charts. The projects cover large areas and create a scenario where efficiency of SV profile collection is critical to production rates. Therefore, eTrac was on the hunt for products that aided in timely SV collection. “As owners and users of multiple AML SV Probes, the beta trial of Data•Xchange™ was a natural interest for us,” explained David Neff, a Certified Hydrographer at eTrac.
According to Neff, Data•Xchange’s positive impact on their daily operations has been multi-faceted:
Data•Xchange™ allows us to collect SV profiles and make them immediately available to the hydrographer without the added time consumption of unplugging/plugging in the impulse/serial connection. The time and cost savings become significant when performing projects requiring multiple weeks or months of data collection. Additionally, by eliminating the constant unplugging/plugging in of the standard impulse connector, Data•Xchange™ alleviates wear and tear of the connectors, which ultimately helps us save on maintenance costs.
During the Beta trial period, eTrac completed a large scale mapping project in the Gulf of Mexico covering the Approaches to Panama City, Florida. Data•Xchange™ was implemented on one of the two survey vessels in an attempt to gain efficiency and streamline SV collection. Neff added, “Data•Xchange™ was helpful to the project, and we look forward to including the product in our future operations.”