Patrick Yeoward, senior superyacht consultant at Brookes Bell, explores the benefits of a new and innovative technology.

In the 18th Century, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, industrial knowledge was treated like a state secret, even to the point that mechanics were banned from emigrating for fear that they took their secrets with them. Thank goodness times have changed. Today, information on products, services, culture and processes is transferred across sectors and industries. The McDonalds drive-thru, for instance, exists because of Formula 1 pitstops; the idea for sushi bar carousels came from an airport baggage carousel. It has been said in the past that the superyacht market is conservative and slow to adopt new technologies, fortunately one innovative company in the offshore oil and gas, maritime and renewables industries has seized upon the opportunity to share its technology with the superyacht industry.

Principally, the software and equipment are derived directly from proven technology used to inspect, amongst other things, offshore assets, nuclear plant systems and oil and gas pipelines and can be used to take a digital survey of ship building steel – through teak, paint, cladding, fairing and antifouling and produce a visual report of the extent of the corrosion and the thickness of remaining steel plate underneath.

The Pec Deck probe in action scanning a deck

Clearly, this technology can be of enormous benefit to superyacht owners, managers, captains, shipyards and many more stakeholders. The ability to know exactly what you are dealing with in terms of corrosion assessment and material wastage before you start ripping up the whole deck or surface coating is (almost) priceless. The superyacht does not have to be lifted out of the water or even move from the spot it is moored in. The equipment, although hi-tech, is easily transportable and scanning can be achieved with a single inspection team consisting of two men. It doesn’t have to be done in the yard but can easily be undertaken in the period leading up to the haul-out or, in fact, at anytime and anywhere.

How the system works, in very simple terms, is that a magnetic pulse is ‘fired’ through the covering to the steel plate below. This briefly creates a magnetic field in the steel, which produces an electrical current, the time taken for the electrical current to decay is relative to the remaining thickness of plate, i.e. the faster the rate of decay the thinner the plate. These numbers are then represented by a colour palette, providing a ‘map’ of the deck, it’s substructure and the thickness of remaining plate. Areas of concern are then easily identifiable, as are areas that could be of concern in the not too distant future.


The Pec Deck probe in action scanning a deck

This technology has the potential to be a game changer in terms of reducing yard time, and the obvious knock-on effect of reducing time is saving cost. To be able to refine yard time, labour loading, timings of parallel works (the list goes on) can only be beneficial to all. This scanning method results in minimal interference to daily operations, with absolutely no need for destructive techniques or gels, contaminants or stain makers.

The probes can ‘sweep’ 100mm in length per second and 250mm wide per pass, allowing for vast quantities of data to be generated and analysed. The final report is produced in an easy to read format that clearly shows the areas of concern and those that need treating or replacing. A colour palette spectrum with blue for sound, through green, yellow and orange to red for dangerous gives a comprehensive and understandable “at a glance” view as well as the detail needed to assess the severity of the issue.

Using probes to scan things is not new but ‘active’ tools will undoubtedly soon be in common place usage before refits and repairs. Of course, there is the cost associated with the scan to factor in but that will ultimately be written off in the savings made in the yard. Plus, no awful surprises during refit either!

Although the technology is complex, the process is not. Depending upon the area to be scanned a large probe may be used which is the size of a wide-headed vacuum cleaner or a smaller ‘mouse like” probe which provides us with access to tight corners or side decks. It can be undertaken in sections and even several months prior to yard time. The report can be utilised as part of as a Shipyard or management company quote for a client – in a refit or rebuild situation it makes understanding the scope of the work so much easier.

Focal point analysis

The ability to see plate wastage/diminution obviously means things can be well organised, planning is simpler, materials can be ordered, interiors prepared, blocking arranged, quotes generated, and all involved can be completely clear as to the scope of works. The ability to be able to give a management company and owner actual timelines and laser-accurate costings prior to commencement makes for an easier refit period.

Business these days is conducted at light speed and anything, but anything, that can cut down on time and planning is a ‘no-brainer’ no matter how universal. This is truly cross industry common sense.

This great cross over of technology shows that the key to resilience and growth in business is to learn from other sectors. Whatever will be next. Watch this space.

Anyone wishing to know more about the technology or would like a demonstration should contact Patrick Yeoward at Brookes Bell as soon as possible to reserve a slot.

Patrick will be at the Monaco Yacht Show and can be contacted for a meeting on +34 672 268 328

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