When I look back on the 2009 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, I think of walking nearly a mile of dock in intense heat. Nobody felt it more than the exhibitors in some of the tents, though, and nobody had better proof of what he and his neighbors experienced than Casey Cox, the president and mastermind of Krill Systems, which developed a new graphical software package to monitor a vessel's systems.

Overview of systems operating, including alarms, from perspective of exterior and each deck.

This SoftDisplay Gen 3 view of various operating systems monitors temperatures, batteries, and water tanks, with visual alarms if necessary.

I stopped by late one afternoon to see Casey and learn about his software, which seems well-suited particularly to medium and larger motoryachts. He was demo'ing a beta version of his SoftDisplay Gen3 and although it wasn't hooked up to a 60-foot trawler, rumbling up the ICW at that moment, the temperature gauge was activated. That afternoon, the heat had peaked at close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which was cool compared to the day before. Yet this man, who hails from the much cooler climate of Bainbridge Island, Washington, was still smiling and not missing a detail.

The author with Casey Cox, the brains behind Krill Systems

The author, with Casey Cox, the brains behind Krill Systems products

The software package, Casey told me, is ideal for someone who owns a 50- to 60-foot trawler, although Casey said he has installed similar programs on boats twice as long. It monitors any system that can keep track of battery banks, engines, and tanks by means of NMEA 2000 or 0183 sensors, or Krill Sensor Pads. Here's a part of the company press release that appealed to me as a potential user:
“For the first time, captains and vessel owners have the ability to quickly spot trends in equipment operating conditions making it possible to predict failure of mechanical equipment before it actually occurs,” says Casey Cox, president of Krill Systems. “Key to reducing vessel operating cost and unscheduled downtime Krill’s powerful graphical display and database helps operators keep track of any vessel condition.”  Most mechanical systems such as pumps, alternators and rotating shafts exhibit gradually increasing operating temperatures caused by impending bearing failure or restricted pump flow due to blockage. Examples of this may be the engine coolant temperature slowly increasing over time, indicating a possible clogged heat exchanger element. Catastrophic equipment failure is often the result of a series of cascading events that is caused by other conditions.

When I snapped this photo, the yellow temperature line registered a mere 85 degrees. Looking back at the stored data from the previous day, I could see that the temperature had peaked over 92 degrees on the previous day.

When I snapped this photo, the yellow temperature line registered a mere 85 degrees.

Now as I plan to go to Florida again for two more boat shows—the NMMA show in Miami and the Yacht & Brokerage Show just up the beach—I'm watching the forecast temperatures. When I get on site, of course, I can go visit Casey and Krill's Marketing Director, Lynne Watanabe, a Twitter friend of mine (@lynnewatanabe), and see exactly what the temperature is.

Lynne tells me that SoftDisplay Gen 3 software is in production, so if you have a boat with serious systems, stop by their booth (#1686 at the Miami Convention Center). And if you've got a commercial orientation, you can see a second product they're launching called SmartTug, which provides commercial captains with a monitoring system that can help them optimize fuel efficiency and quickly provide a report of the tug's operation to the fleet operator.

— John Burnham

Here's a better view of the SoftDisplay Gen 3 monitoring program.

Here's a better view of they SoftDisplay Gen 3 monitoring program.