How Radar Systems Help Offshore Platforms

15-10-2022 Aesthetix

Radars are a prominent element of the navigation system in airspace, marine spaces, and even on land. RADAR is the short form of "Radio Detection and Ranging." It is the use of radio wave frequencies where it is emitted and when the encountered object bounces back the transmitted signals, they are collected by a receiver. With a little bit of math, the exact position of the object can be determined. The initial setup of RADARS was quite cumbersome. It was in the Second World War that the RADAR systems were extensively applied.

The first RADAR systems were used for detecting objects and envisioning navigation in aerospace. And it slowly paved its way to the marine sector as well. It helps in giving out a very effective and crucial navigation system and also for battlespace control.

Let's look into the details of how radar works in a marine or offshore environment:

Basic Operation of Radar

The functioning of the radar starts at the point where the radio wave is transmitted and the signals are received back by a scanner. The radar’s transmission time is calculated between the transmission of the wave and receiving the wave. Once the speed of the radio wave is known, the distance of the object can be calculated. Once the information about the object is obtained, the information is processed and displayed on the screen. The rotating scanner of the radar also calculates the bearing of the target and shows it on the display screen.

To understand RADAR in its entirety, one needs to become acquainted with some of the basic terms that are associated with RADAR.

1. Radar Resolution

Radar resolution is the feature in the radar system that distinguishes two objects or targets that are close to each other on the display screen. There are two kinds of radar resolution: bearing resolution and range resolution. A good bearing solution will help separate the targets on the same bearing that are close to each other. It pretty much depends on the horizontal beam width of the radio wave. Range resolution shows two different targets on different bearings as separate targets.

2. Sensitivity

The sensitivity of the radar depends on how effectively it can paint the target on the display screen. A radar with high sensitivity is able to paint the target, say a fishing boat, at a higher resolution than a radar with low sensitivity, where the fishing boat may not even be visible on the radar display screen.

The next step is to understand how the radars display the targets efficiently.

3. Gain, Sea, and Rain

Gain is the feature that helps increase the sensitivity of the radar. It has to be adjusted in such a way that the targets are particularly visible but do not interfere with the screen. Sea control is primarily used to reduce the clutter and echoes caused on the sea's surface. Rain control is used to decrease the clutter echo caused by rainy weather. Sea control is used in cases where there is a situation of rough sea. When the sea levels are high, it will reduce the gain of control.

The following is the proper way to set these controls:

1) Increase your gains as much as possible.

2) Reduce the impact of the sea and rain controls.

3) Lower the gain until most of the noise has been removed and the targets can be identified.

4) Increase the sea control if necessary to clear sea clutter from the area near the centre of the screen.

Also read: Why Human Factor Engineering Matters In Every Workplace

4. Pulse Length

The pulse length can be short, medium, or long. Radars are automatically aligned to boost up and adjust to the required or selected range. Pulse length helps the radar see the targets clearly. The short pulse offers a good range of resolution as the pulse length and short sensitivity are completely lower. A long pulse has a lower range but higher sensitivity. A medium pulse is fired between the short and long ranges.

 5. Function

The function is set depending on the range and the weather conditions. Short ranges must be selected for Function 1. Function 2 must be configured for long ranges. Additionally, in inclement weather, you must set Function 3.

 6. ENH

There are features in radar that can help paint the targets on the radar explicitly and with better echo. ENH has to remain off; there are too many targets to be configured.

7. PROC setting

The speed of processing and defining the target on the radar screen. This setting helps paint a picture of the faster-moving target with much better accuracy and promptness.

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