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Crestron Electronics, Inc.

Crestron offers the only complete end-to-end solution with a complete line of hardware and software. Crestron not only connects and controls devices; we integrate and automate all the building systems to provide a connected experience. We deliver integrated solutions for audio, video, IP, lighting and climate control making wiring and installations easier and promoting system integrity.
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Crestron Control Systems = Smooth Sailing for Marine Projects
Posted on Friday, February 9, 2024
Crestron Control Systems = Smooth Sailing for Marine Projects

The control system is at the heart of any successful integration, and no one knows that better than our marine dealers

Feb. 9, 2024 - Nick Cranston travels quite a bit. It’s part of his job as the owner and founder of Crest Systems Engineering Limited, a UK-based firm specializing in consultancy, engineering, and support for the marine industry.

When he checks into a hotel room, it’s an experience that helps inform his approach to the job.

"I always think of our side of the industry when I open the door, turn on the lights and the TV, and try my internet connection," he says. Cranston — who has more than 17 years under his belt outfitting systems in superyachts — draws a direct parallel between that experience and one’s first interaction with the system on a luxury vessel. That letdown when something doesn’t work in a hospitality setting is more than a little frustrating.

"Now multiply that feeling for an owner who’s paid millions for a yacht or a charter guest who’s shelling out $400,000 a week."

The Core System

That feeling is even further magnified when there’s no "front desk" to call. "If the owner presses a button on a touch screen or iPad and nothing happens, that’s a huge problem," says Cranston. "If he presses it again and again until it does, their confidence in the system is being eroded." Confidence in that system is paramount for a vessel that crosses oceans.

After nearly two decades in the industry, Cranston has learned that the reliability of systems such as those created by Crestron is critical for any marine integration. "On a lot of yachts, a Crestron solution is now the key system for control, video distribution, audio distribution, lighting control, and so on," says Cranston. "These systems can have the most robust feature-rich user interfaces you can create, but the user experience is directly affected by the ‘glue’ that brings the whole system together: the network."

As those systems become more complex, it’s ever more important that the core system be reliable — and integrated by very knowledgeable installers. "A modern yacht is extremely sophisticated with a vast array of systems that can be controlled," says Cranston. "It’s essential that the network hardware — such as switches, Wi-Fi access points, and so on — are of a high standard, but even more importantly that they are configured and optimized for the control system and media delivery."

Integrating Third-Party Solutions

And third-party solutions are another factor that demands vigilance from Cranston and his team. "To successfully integrate third-party systems into a common control system such as Crestron, it is essential that discussions take place early in the planning stages and a list of third-party interfaces is defined —and conversations about those solutions take place between suppliers and manufacturers."

A great example of this: Just a year ago, Crestron announced its first LED lighting partner, Savage Marine, which integrated the Crestron Home® OS tunable lighting solutions and the Crestron DMX-C LED lighting driver with the Savage Marine line of fixtures. As we wrote when the partnership was announced, "[This] creates a highly customizable, easy-to-install and maintain lighting control solution for superyachts — a space where enhancing personalization through new technology is always a top request."

That kind of third-party integration is a two-way street, demanding the very communication that Cranston mentions. As Daniel Kerkhof, director of Crestron Marine, notes, "It wasn’t simply Savage Lighting configuring some products to work properly with our platform — we made some critical adjustments to the Crestron Home OS. And with that, we now have a very strong offering on lighting, shades, and keypads on that side of the installation."

Four Keys to a Great Control System

Nick Cranston, owner and founder of Crest Systems Engineering Limited, outlines his priorities for marine control:

When designing, specifying, and installing a control system, we look at multiple factors, and the four most critical elements are:

  • Reliability
  • Functionality
  • Compatibility
  • Support

In the main, we specify Crestron based on the factors detailed above. Across my 30-plus years experience with Crestron products — especially on refit projects where the full scope may not be completely defined before the project commences — I am confident that we will be able to adapt the system and programming to deliver a successful project to the client.

The Crestron Home Platform and Crestron Marine

As the Crestron Home OS was being developed (it’s now advanced to version 4), Kerkhof saw a unique opportunity: "Crestron Home was obviously developed as a solution for the residential market, but I did see the potential of this platform for the marine market as well." And as those conversations unfolded, Kerkhof discovered that the marine segment of what Crestron was doing could inform the residential segment’s advances, too.

"AV systems have always been a big ask for yacht owners, but they’re also often very interested in high-quality audio," says Kerkhof. "And it just so happens that Crestron DM NAX audio-over-IP was built initially with marine applications in mind."

When Ekin Binal (now director of core technology and strategic partnerships) first joined Crestron, he was tasked with building the company’s next-gen audio platform. "He started reaching out to the people running commercial, residential, hospitality," Kerkhof recalls. "And he also came to me and said, Hey, I hear that you do something with large yachts — what would I need to have as functionalities in my new solution for you to be able to use it on board?" Kerkhof came back with a long list, and Binal began to realize that different subsets of that list would also come in handy for the other verticals.

The Feedback Loop

"I took Ekin with me to a couple of dealer meetings. We went together to a yard to actually see a superyacht build — a 100-meter project — to give him a good knowledge about the size and wiring requirements of these projects." From there, Binal designed the Crestron DM NAX® technology solution with marine installations top of mind — and those requirements more than matched the needs of every other application for the DM NAX technology.

The entire notion of open communication between manufacturer and dealer is actually what sold Nick Cranston on Crestron at the outset of his present business. "George Feldstein — the late founder of the firm — took me to dinner with his wife at a trade show in Las Vegas," Cranston recalls. "They were both so pleasant, so knowledgeable, and so open to communication that I immediately began using Crestron solutions."

That open feedback loop never closed. "We listen to Nick and colleagues constantly," says Kerkhof. "It’s a big part of my job to make sure that I know what's happening in the market that I'm responsible for and to feed that information back into engineering and research and development." That’s especially critical in a niche market such as marine integration, where clients obviously demand best-in-class solutions.