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Technologies sought for maintenance free life rafts

Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Reference Number: TRUK20171107001
Publication Date: 7 November 2017

Summary

A multinational shipping enterprise with a registered base in Scotland (UK) is seeking novel approaches to replace regulated safety checks on inflatable lift rafts on cargo and passenger ships with another method to guarantee the reliability of these rafts in the event of an emergency. The company is looking for partnerships via a commercial agreement with technical assistance or a technical cooperation agreement. The company is especially interested in technologies that are near to market.

Description

A leading multinational shipping enterprise with a registered base in Scotland (UK) is looking for technology solutions that can be applied to their cargo and passenger ships that travel in all of the world's oceans. The company is actively involved with open innovation and is currently involved with several international projects.

Today, inflatable life rafts aboard ships are removed and inspected on shore by certified 3rd party companies that inflate and test each one. They exchange an inspected one while they test the one from the ship. This inspection process is logistically challenging and costly. Neither raft manufacturers nor the inspection companies have any incentive to prolong their useful life and extend their inspection intervals .

The Scottish company's desire is to make these required annual inspections redundant by demonstrating that the risk of raft failure in the case of an emergency is acceptably low. In the ideal case, eliminating the necessity of opening up, inflating, and manually inspecting the life boats.

The client is looking to partner with companies that have a solution or a potential solution that is near to market and is therefore looking for partnerships via a commercial agreement with technical assistance or a technical cooperation agreement. The company is willing to consider technology from other end-application sectors that is capable of addressing the problem set out here. The client is flexible in the approach to required development. Some budget may be made available for development and this could include being actively involved in the development of a solution, technical overview of the end application and provision of testing facilities.

Expertise sought

The company is interested in cost-effective solutions for a maintenance free life raft.

While maritime regulations can be difficult and slow to change, the company believe that a combination of improved material technology and fabrication methods could result in an essentially maintenance free inflatable raft. Ideally, the life of these rafts would be similar to the life span of the company's ships.

Another approach of interest is some form of remote monitoring or self-monitoring system that could be incorporated into the design of the life raft or (ideally) be used to assure the reliability of existing life rafts.

Proposed technologies would be able to eliminate the necessity of opening up, inflating, and manually inspecting life rafts.

The company would likely first seek Flag state approval to trial any solution approach, with hopes to implement the maximum inspection interval under current regulation (5 years). The next step would be to seek approval to eliminate the manual inspection requirement entirely.

Evaluation Criteria:
1. Technical Viability-- Solutions proposed must be based on sound scientific principles and have laboratory or pilot scale data that demonstrate efficacy.
2. Scale up Potential—Solutions proposed must have a clear pathway to be application on commercial ships. Solutions already practiced in marine markets have higher value. The ideal partner would be able to lead the design and installation of full-scale systems.
3. Costs—solutions would need to be reasonably cost effective to install and operate. Moreover, solutions should not require additional staffing or increase port turnaround time.
4. Ownership—Solutions covered by patents have higher value. At a minimum, proposed solutions must not be prohibited by other patents in the field.

Killer Issues:
Solutions will not be considered if, in the companies opinion:
• Installation and maintenance costs are prohibitive for broad application
• Proposals lack sufficient supporting laboratory or pilot scale data
• Solutions don't adhere to global maritime regulations

Requested partner

A partner is sought that can provide a way to replace regulated safety checks on inflatable lift rafts on cargo and passenger ships. The partner must be able to demonstrate laboratory or pilot scale data and be able to show a clear pathway to application on commercial ships.

The client is flexible in the amount of technical involvement in the type of partnership considered. Where some development is required for the specific application considered here, the product could be developed jointly or there could be some other commercial agreement for development with technical assistance.

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