DESIGNING AND MANUFACTURING A GLOBAL MARINE PRODUCT FOR A WORLD-LEADING SUPPLIER

The Next Generation of AIS Class B Transceivers

  Design For Manufacture   
  User Centred Design   
  IP68 Water Proofing   

Sector: Industrial Design

THE DESIGN CHALLENGE + THE IMPACT DELIVERED

AIS Class B transceivers are used by all marine vessels as critical pieces of navigation systems that ensure reliable communication and ultimately prevent collisions.

Em-trak needed a global redesign of its AIS transceiver to consolidate multiple product configurations into a new, single enclosure that would perform in the toughest marine environments. Realise delivered a flagship product that ensures quick install and ease of use. It is sold worldwide and chosen by marine professionals who value performance and expect nothing but the best.

Consolidating legacy designs and reaching new markets

Em-trak approached Realise because of our ability to prioritise technical and high-performance requirements against commercial drivers. They needed our help to address the deep design challenges in delivering a new consolidated, universal product that addressed the difficulties of having multiple legacy designs alongside new market opportunities.

Integrating seamless user interaction and communication transmission in the harshest environments at sea were critical requirements along with enabling quick, easy installation into a range of seafaring vessels that also incorporated a branding refresh to reach new customers.

Em-trak also wanted to bring the product to market within three months. There was no room for delay or error – the pressure was on!

Balancing design for manufacture with product usability

Together with Em-trak, Realise revisited previous products from a technical standpoint and explored new market opportunities to generate a wide range of concept proposals all unique in their visual and functional features against specific commercial needs. Exploring a striking new visual identity in parallel ensured that concepts were within the scope of a clearly defined brand strategy.

After choosing a concept route, Realise and Em-trak’s engineering teams joined forces to overcome integration challenges and reduce complexity across multiple, detailed configurations. Working in synergy, we rerouted cables and redesigned the internal layout of GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth and VHF systems increasing space for fittings and connectors – always keeping the end-user in mind.

Ensuring increased usability was a key requirement. The team homed in on the easy installation of the product that would retrofit to any existing seafaring vessel with a quick-release bracket and incorporated new semantics. Identifying opportunities to add value is one of many strengths at Realise, and the team complemented this with our design for manufacture expertise; driving down costs and ensuring the product would be easily assembled and cheaper to manufacture.

Mounting bracket design on an AIS Class B Transceiver

Stakeholder testing, factory support and a reassuring click

Realise’s designers led concept development through to an iterative prototyping phase and programme of testing to ensure strict waterproofing criteria to IP68 was met.

We created pre-production prototypes to mitigate development risk and presented them to stakeholders, proving product viability was aligned with the ideal market, and in tandem with the choice of off-the-shelf components, material selection and manufacturing processes.

With an established supply chain and manufacturing partners in place, Realise travelled to China and provided factory support inspecting and testing first-off sample parts and lending the manufacturers our expertise in plastic moulding to ensure successful first-off production.

Working with Em-trak, the AIS transceiver was manufactured and assembled at a lower cost than the previous product range and brought to market in three months.

It is a design that pays attention to detail, right down to the reassuring click that can be heard as the product clips securely into its mounting bracket; a product that you can find in sea vessels worldwide and best in B class transceivers.

Close up of mounting bracket and connectors on Em-trak's AIS Class B Transceiver
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