Ice, Ice, Baby: Increasing reliability and safety for the U.S. Coast Guard polar icebreakers.

An HMI and PLC Control Upgrade Case Study

Increase reliability and safety for the US Coast Guard polar icebreakers.

When the US Coast Guard was ready to install new crane hardware and hydraulic units on its two polar icebreakers, it turned to Concept Systems to install and program the new crane control systems and operator interfaces.

The Problem

Icebreakers operate in harsh polar environments, so a control system had to be robust enough to stand up to those conditions. Additionally, centralized operation with a touch-screen Operator Interface (OI) at each HPU location was required. Given the environmental situation, multiple backup systems were also needed, so the cranes and anchor windlasses would remain operational during a critical system failure.

The Solution

Concept Systems delivered a high performance system and controls upgrade with reliable diagnostic and troubleshooting capabilities by supervising design, PLC and OI-associated hardware selection and software development for the centralized HPU control system. Now, hydraulic fluid flow can be redirected from one crane or anchor windlass to another through the control system via the OI.

The Results

In even the harshest conditions, the cranes on the US Coast Guard icebreaker ships operate more efficiently with improved safety, reliability, and flexibility.

Project Details 


Less than 12 Months


Client: 1

Concept Systems: 2 engineers

  • Provide fail-safe performance and diagnostic/troubleshooting capabilities
  • Withstand harsh polar environments
  • Provide for centralized operation with a touch-screen Operator Interface at each HPU location
Technology Used
  • Allen-Bradley ControlLogix
  • PanelView Plus HMI
  • Rockwell RSLogix 5000
  • FactoryTalk View ME
  • Ethernet/IP