Innovation winners at IBEX and METS

Posted on Written by Chris Landry

12_innovation_01Two 4-stroke outboards, a multifunction display that can be linked to an iPad, a smarter portable marine head and a panoramic aft-view mirror were among the 11 winners in the 2011 IBEX Innovation Awards, which are judged by members of Boating Writers International.

Raymarine’s e7D multifunction display and Charles Industries’ Intelligent Marine Charger exemplify the industry’s advances in electronic devices and its integration of new technologies, says awards committee chairman Alan Wendt.

Charles Industries’ IMC units are the industry’s first four-bank battery chargers, with programmable, continuous and independent DC output and battery type and charging profile selection for each bank, says Lyle St. Romain, general manager of Charles Industries’ Marine and Industrial Group. The company captured the Innovation Award in the Electrical Systems category with its IMC 40 model.

The complete list of IBEX winners

Safety Equipment

Protomet Corp., Panoramic Mirror System, www.protomet.com, (865) 425-0600

Electrical Systems

Charles Industries, Intelligent Marine Charger, www.charlesindustries.com, (847) 806-6300

OEM Electronics

Raymarine, e7D Multifunction Display, www.raymarine.com, (603) 801-5200

Furnishings and Interior Parts

Thetford Curve Porta Potti,        www.thetford.com, (800) 543-1219

Outboard Engines

Mercury 150 FourStroke and Honda BF250, www.marine.honda.com, (770) 497-6400, www.mercurymarine.com, (920) 929-5040

Inboard Engines

Indmar Marine Engines 5.7L Assault 345, www.indmar.com, (901) 353-9930

Deck Equipment and Hardware

Nautilus Marine Group, V500 windlass, www.nautilusmarinegroup.net (517) 339-0745

Inboard Mechanical Systems

Attwood Corp. Universal Sprayless Connector, www.attwoodmarine.com, (616) 897-9241

Environmental Winner

US Marine Products, EFOY Fuel Cell, www.efoy.com, +49 89 / 673 592-0

Propulsion Parts, Propellers

PowerTech Propellers Power Stop propeller, www.ptprop.com, (318) 688-1970

*     *     *

Product innovation also was recognized in the Design Award METS competition at the Marine Equipment Trade Show in Amsterdam in November. The complete list of DAME winners:

Overall winner

S.C.M Revolving Portlight, www.scminox.it, +39.039.302.181

Marine electronics

iAIS by Digital Yacht, www.digitalyacht.co.uk, +44.(0).117.955.4474

Clothing and Crew Accessories

Ballistic Eco Pants by Harken Sport, www.harkensport.com, (262) 691-3320

Lifesaving and Safety Equipment

Deckvest LITE by Spinlock Ltd., www.spinlock.co.uk, +44(0)1983 295555

Marine Equipment, Boatyard Equipment and Boat Construction Tools and Materials

Sentinel One Star by Forniture Nautiche Italiane, www.fni.it

Machinery, Propulsion, Mechanical and Electrical Systems and Fittings

Stabilis Electra 18BR-2X by CMC Marine, www.cook-mfg.net,        (800) 654-3697

Deck Equipment, Sails and Rigging

Constrictor clutch by Cousin Trestec, www.cousin-trestec.com, +33.(0)3.3.20.14.40.00

Marine-related Software

TimeZero Trident by MaxSea/MapMedia/Nobeltec, www.nobeltec.com, (503) 579-1414; www.maxsea.com, +33 559 43 81 00; www.mapmedia.com, +33 (0) 559 43 81 00

“Most ECO-Friendly Product” certificate

GO2 by Cerion, www.cerionenergy.com, (877) 845-5630

“Most Innovative Product” certificate

Constrictor clutch by Cousin Trestec

“Being able to manage four battery banks and choose your DC output and your battery type per bank is critical,” St. Romain says. “For installation, it’s true plug and play. You can downgrade the amperage of any bank, so if the boat has a separate battery charger running the bow thruster, the boater can adjust that battery for that job.”

The manufacturer has configured the IMC 40, which has universal AC input (120/208/240 volts), for use with AGM, gel, lead-acid and NiCad batteries, St. Romain says. “A lot of the boats are going to different voltages, especially the owners of larger vessels. You have a 12- and 24-volt starting bank that’s lead acid and a 12-volt house bank that’s AGM, maybe gel,” St. Romain says. “And you might have smaller battery banks in the bow, say for a bow thruster.”

During the past few years, companies such as Charles have come up with chargers with battery type selection, but these chargers were made specifically for each type, St. Romain says.

Even if you can choose the type, you have to set it at a certain point, and that point might not be your battery’s optimal charging profile, says St. Romain. “Batteries have become very sensitive, so we like to have precise charging profiles,” he says. “So we have factory default settings, but the customer can change the setting, as well.”

Charles offers the IMC 40 in six amperages: 20A, 40A, 60A, 80A, 100A and 120A. IMC 20A, 40A and 60A models are available for order now. The IMC 80A, 100A and 120A are expected to be released in the first quarter of 2012. Retail pricing for the 40-amp IMC is $1,508.78. www.charlesindustries.com, (847) 806-6300

In the OEM Electronics category, the Raymarine e7D came out on top. The e7D serves as the “heart of the Raymarine electronics system,” says Andrew C. Teich, president of FLIR Commercial Vision Systems, which owns Raymarine. It integrates an array of features, from touch-screen technology and Wi-Fi connectivity to Apple iOS and Bluetooth capability, he says. “And it has a great suite of radar, sonar, and GPS and autopilot functions all built into the unit,” he says.

The e7d’s Bluetooth connectivity lets boaters control and reconfigure the e7 with the optional RCU-3 wheel-mounted or handheld remote control unit. The RCU-3 remote can also be used to control the audio playback on an iPad, iPhone or iPod remotely so these devices can be stowed safely out of the elements.

13_innovation_02“Mobile computing has changed our everyday lives with anywhere access to information, and now the e7 lets boaters access charts, sonar, radar and thermal night vision from anywhere on board,” says Jim Jones, director of Southeastern sales for Raymarine. The e7 system also can work with AIS and high-definition digital sonar.

Raymarine’s HybridTouch technology allows users to choose touch-screen or keypad control, and with the LightHouse interface the user can customize the layout and display by dragging and dropping on-screen elements. Price: $1,849.99, www.raymarine.com, (603) 881-5200

In the Safety Equipment category the judges chose Protomet Corp.’s Panoramic Mirror System. A champion slalom water skier told the company it needed a new mirror with better quality and a greater field of view, Protomet president Jeff Bohanan says. Protomet agreed, and it responded with the VR-140 panoramic boat mirror. It gives the driver a 140-degree field of view, which is about double that of most other one-piece mirrors, Bohanan says.

“You can have nearly 360 degrees of vision,” he says. “Instead of the driver having to turn around, he or she can look forward just about all the time. It really changes the experience of the boater.”

The mirror also captures the cockpit area of the boat, allowing the driver to make sure the spotter is on task and the rest of the crew is safe. This impressed Wendt and the other judges. “Having a second set of eyes on your kids while towing them in any variety of watersports is inherent parental responsibility,” Wendt says. “Protomet’s prescription-grade optics provide great unparalleled viewable range.”

The mirror, with a plastic housing, is $199.95, and it’s $399.95 with an aluminum housing. The actual mirror is 6 by 18 inches. The bracket is $229.95 for windshield mounting; adapters for other locations, such as the wakeboard tower, are available. www.protomet.com, (865) 425-0600

13_innovation_03For the first time, two engines are sharing the award for most innovative outboard. The Mercury 150 FourStroke “is the lightest 150-hp 4-stroke in the world,” says Steve Miller, Mercury Marine’s brand manager for large outboards. “We have the highest displacement but the lowest weight. There is a saying, ‘There’s no replacement for displacement.’ This is a very low-stressed engine.”

The 150 FourStroke weighs 455 pounds and has a displacement of 183 cubic inches. The eight-valve engine weighs 55 pounds less than its predecessor, the 4-cylinder Verado 150, and can be used to power a variety of boats, from inshore bay boats and RIBs to offshore fishing and cruising boats, Miller says.

The outboard also is a good choice for repowering, he says. “Because of the lighter weight you can mount the engines on older boats that normally could not handle the weight of an older 4-stroke,” Miller says. The new engine is just 24 pounds heavier than Mercury’s 150-hp OptiMax 2-stroke, Miller says.

Price: $13,000, www.mercurymarine.com, (920) 929-5040

More than 10 years ago, Honda Marine introduced its 225-hp 4-stroke outboard. Since then, the engine maker has focused on lower-horsepower models. But in 2012 its most powerful outboard yet will hit the market — the BF250.

The manufacturer builds the BF250 around a 3.6-liter engine with a displacement of 219 inches. Honda Marine has given it a sleeker, more streamlined all-around design that includes a new gearcase, which reduces drag by 5 percent, according to the company. A new air induction system uses two air-cooling methods for better combustion and performance.

The V-6 outboard weighs 600 to 622 pounds, depending on shaft length. That’s about 60 pounds lighter than the Mercury 250 Verado and 40 pounds heavier than Yamaha’s 250. The Suzuki 250 weighs about 580 pounds. Price: $24,263 to $25,391, www.marine.honda.com, (770) 497-6400

In the Furnishing & Interior Parts category, Thetford Corp.’s Curve Porta Potti was judged the most innovative product. The originators of the Porta Potti redesigned everything from a battery-powered flushing mechanism to a hidden, integrated toilet paper holder to a wider, taller unit, says Thetford marketing manager Nadine Burns.

“People are a little wider these days, so we increased the size of the bowl,” Burns says. “And it is taller so you don’t have to stoop so much.”

It also has easy-to-read level indicators to make monitoring the fresh and wastewater tanks simple. And carrying handles offer trouble-free transportation, she says. The Curve Porta Potti is $200, and it became available in November.

“We took into consideration everything that was going on within the market,” Burns says. “We did a lot of participatory research. The improvements came from customer input.” www.thetford.com, (800) 543-1219

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue.

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