Man Overboard Fact-finding Project

CLIENT: Safety Systems Manufacturer

INDUSTRY: Maritime Safety

Hillside Product Design were contacted by a global manufacturer and provider of man overboard safety products who were looking at the feasibility of a new type of man overboard beacon which could be configured to meet the needs of a variety of environments and standards. For the new device to fulfil its new roles effectively, it was vital that the product specification was as wide-ranging as possible in order to consider all factors. The Board of Directors felt that an external and independent reviewer would give them a fresh insight. This could lead to new innovations and improvements and would help assure them that nothing had been missed.

Hillside Product Design embarked on a discovery stage of work to collate a comprehensive library of research which could be used to inform the product specification for a new man overboard beacon. Part of this work included a comprehensive review and analysis of existing products, mechanisms, and build arrangements. There are a substantial number of regulations which apply to life critical products such as these and Hillside had to familiarise itself with ATEX and SOLAS to identify the impact these and others would have on a new product intended for several operational situations.

It was vital to gain first-hand experience of the scenario that the product would be used in. Our review team knew they could not fully understand the effects that cold, fear, shock, and sudden submersion may have on the user unless they had experienced that for themselves. In mid-November we arranged a man overboard experience for the team to observe first-hand the effects of shock and cold on clarity of thought, on dexterity, on visibility and a multitude of mental and physical experiences unavailable to someone sitting in a warm office. This experience proved to be a vital component of the review and our findings.

To complete the review, Hillside Product Design undertook an extensive risk assessment to identify potential failure modes for products of this type and their applications. This was concluded with proposed specifications and design requirements for consideration by the clients own design team.

At the conclusion of the discovery stage the client had a much better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their own products and those of their competitors, but more importantly they had seized the opportunity to look outside the box and bring in external design support to keep their own design team fully informed, and invigorated with fresh ideas and approaches.

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