Bespoke Prototyping Functionality Testing Water Protection
Sector: Marine Industry
What’s the Big Problem with Fishing?
From discarded plastic, ocean noise to rising sea levels – there are serious problems caused by humans impacting the health of our oceans.
Overfishing is one of the very worst, critically damaging vital ecosystems, whilst threatening the livelihoods of low-income, coastal communities everywhere.
To put it into context, we have already removed at least two-thirds of the large fish in the ocean. One in three fish populations have collapsed since 1950. Industrial trawling of the ocean floor obliterates an area about the size of the whole Amazon rainforest every year, releasing giga tonnes of deadly smothering sediment and as much CO2 as the entire aviation industry. The hardest hit are inevitably local fishing communities who are left struggling to feed their families, sowing unrest and further environmental damage when they have to turn in-land for food.
Why is this allowed? Because it happens in the vast oceans and it’s out of sight, making it hard for most people to understand and even harder for authorities to see who’s doing what.
So can technology help?
SRT and the Philippine Vessel Monitoring System
SRT are global leaders in the technologies that monitor vessels at sea, built around their AIS (Automatic Identification System) technology which vessels use to identify and avoid each other. AIS is also used by ports, environment agencies and coast guards, now a critical way for rescue services to find vessels in an emergency, meaning SRT products are saving lives almost every day.
The Philippines is a nation of over 7000 islands, becoming increasingly concerned about effects of over-fishing on the wellbeing and social stability of their extensive coastal communities. So when the Philippine Government decided to create a national Vessel Monitoring System to help manage fishing in their waters, they selected SRT to provide the technology.
A key component required for the Philippines’ system is the VMS-100 on-board transceiver, planned to be fitted to 5000 local vessels, enabling the reporting of any vessel’s position, activity and fish catches to the monitoring system. Which is what SRT turned to Realise for help with…
The Design Challenge
With SRT undertaking their own in-house electronic design and development, SRT asked Realise to integrate alongside their existing team to design a robust easy to-use enclosure to suit. After analysing the situation and requirements, the basic brief we set for ourselves was:
Robustness and reliability – ruggedised impact-proof enclosure with enhanced water IP sealing to suit the challenging conditions onboard busy commercial boats in all weather
Achieve Compliance – meet the security and safety regulations in multiple regions with high-performance anti-tamper features
Lower cost of manufacture – streamline the assembly process, reduce part count and improve quality limiting rejects on the production line
Aesthetics – needed to support the SRT brand, appearing technical and trustworthy, whilst also suiting owners who haven’t chosen to have this onboard, therefore being approachable and not invasive
Ease of installation – to be easily and quickly fitted to 100’s of different vessels by semi-skilled installer
Usability – intuitive & easy to use in difficult conditions, ideally without a manual, reducing mistakes and confusion
We immediately realised that there was an interesting tension needing to appear technical versus friendly and approachable to a wide range of people from commercial ship owners to local fishermen running their own small traditional wooden fishing boat. This would be a tricky balance to achieve!
Our Design Solutions
Finding the best balance of user experience, design, functionality, and cost required a structured programme of creative, technical thinking.
In the concept stage we explored the form, user interface, product construction and simplified assembly methods, alongside the electronic team’s layout concepts and component evaluations.
One of the innovations this delivered was a unique assembly method allowing the inner seal to be compressed and assembled at an angle, allowing easy access to components and ports and only requiring two screws to close, saving time and cost in production. In addition, anti-tamper clips cover critical mounting points that prevent users from removing the unit without traceability.
During development and detailed engineering, we carried out extensive prototyping, user validation and specialised performance testing, like immersion and vibration or shock tests, to verify the direction and details.
Throughout this we were aware of the importance of this operating in difficult conditions, for it to deliver on its potential for positive change within the marine industry.
In close collaboration with the SRT’s electronic design team and their manufacturing partners right through tooling and sampling, we achieved the best possible design in a matter of a few months.
The result is a quality controlled product, that achieves everything in the brief, at the target price target and that will last in use.
Most importantly VMS-100 will enable fishing vessels throughout the Philippines to fish fairly and sustainably. Which as a proven platform, gives SRT a huge opportunity to expand this worldwide for maximum positive impact, regulating and conserving our the oceans for the future.
Working with with forward thinking businesses who are proactively making meaningful change to improve ocean health and the communities who make a living from it, is something that we are very excited to be a part of.
The SRT Team themselves are excellent to work with, with close communication and trust in us, pragmatic in their approach to the design and development of the product, whilst being open minded to the value of design solutions. In our experience these are very important characteristics to getting the right result, which when this is a meaningful contribution to a more sustainable future, then these are important skills!
The product design process is fundamentally a framework for identifying a market opportunity, clearly defining problems and developing viable solutions to improve the lives of its users whilst creating increased value for the business.
The Realise’ product design process is a structure that quickly and reliably produces the right results whilst minimising risk and development costs. We adopt this process in every project we undertake to ensure the best quality output is achieved.
If you are looking to develop your product idea or like SRT, take an existing product to the next level, contact us and find out more or have a look at our services page to find out more about what we can do for you!