Motion controls, once known as “stabilisers”, were largely confined to passenger liners in the past but now they are seen on all manner of vessels, even comparatively small ones. Certainly, we see many Humphree installations on all kinds of vessels all over the world.
Just a few of those seen here during 2020 include: an Australian catamaran fast ferry; luxurious high-speed ferries for Tanzania; the dramatically famous patrol boat/yacht/record breaker Thunder Child II from Ireland; fast multi-role patrol craft for Turkey; and, a large, fast Australian lobster boat that has been designed also for maximum economy.
Owners worldwide are realising that effective motion control not only offers significantly greater comfort, but also very worthwhile fuel savings.
“For the individual owner and vessel,” Humphree told Baird Maritime, “our take is that once you ‘go Humphree,’ you don’t look for other stabilisation solutions. You need hands-on experience to understand the difference with true stabilisation and that’s why many of the vessels are built by repeat customers.
“The beauty is that our in-depth technical know-how of vessel motion enables us to select from a full suite of interceptors and fin stabilisers to give owners the exact boat behaviour they desire. It’s a capability in an industrialised package very few, if any, can offer among our respected competitors.”
Humphree added that its products are becoming more favoured in the market due to energy savings, a concept which is becoming increasingly important following the implementation of the Paris accord and the resultant growing focus on sustainability.
“As an example, we use interceptors to assist steering in waterjet applications. For a 1,100-tonne fast passenger catamaran, we save 430 tonnes of CO2 corresponding to an installation of 4,000 square metres of solar panels in northern Europe, which then translates to fuel savings of around €80,000 (US$96,000) per annum.”
The company was even able to introduce new product offerings, such as 1.3m² and 1.5m² stabiliser fins, in 2020. Moreover, improvements in its existing products were implemented as well.
“To match the need for higher power from our electrical DC servos, we managed to almost double the peak power from four kW to 7.5 kW within the same physical envelope, eliminating the need for extra onboard space and extending our range to around fast vessels of 39 metres length. For workboats, we have expanded our production of our pitch stabiliser fins as cost-efficient and robust alternatives to T-foils. While at it we developed our integration between pitch fins and interceptors, potentially giving even 15 per cent higher dampening by software alone.”
Humphree also simplified the cost and time for yards installing its largest HLS interceptors with 110mm stroke for the large vessel market, thus ensuring what the company claims is a simple installation procedure compared to competing alternatives. Steering assist for waterjets was also improved, reducing integration complexity and making it easier to improve fuel economy and sustainability.
All these product innovations were successfully introduced in 2020 even as the Covid-19 pandemic raged across the globe.
“It’s been a balancing act for us starting in 2020,” Humphree told Baird Maritime. “Specifically, we had to introduce protective measures to keep employees and their loved ones safe and at the same time follow through with a major company expansion. Decisions in times of uncertainty are hard, and the easy way is to wait, which is not in our DNA.”
However, the company commented that it was successful in staying afloat in 2020, with 99 per cent of orders for the year being completed and delivered on time. Further, a new office was put up in Italy, existing office space expanded by 800 square metres, and an additional 20 people were hired over the course of the previous year. Investments were also made in solar panels installed in its manufacturing facilities to improve sustainability in daily operations.
“From a business point of view,” remarked Humphree, “we have seen very strong results with an overall growth over 2019. Before the pandemic, we had a compound annual growth rate of 30 per cent, which has come down a little bit due to the pandemic. Our contribution during the pandemic has been to keep our crew safe and to carry on, create qualified work opportunities, and serve our customers and suppliers during very tough times.”
In its desire to continue to serve customers, Humphree has been closely observing the market and has identified a growing trend in which it hopes to gain a foothold.
“Sustainability in operation, the possibility to operate in tougher sea states and to keep crew and passengers safe and comfortable are all increasing in priority to reach productivity gains,” the company told Baird Maritime. “From a technology standpoint we’ll see connected vessels and even more features coming out of software engineering. We believe the market will shift from traditional trim tabs to interceptors, fins or other technologies that have the required speed in actuation to provide smart stabilisation.”
Humphree commented that offerings such as stabilisation on demand and over the air updates will not only be available, but will be required by owners to avoid downtimes caused by vessel refits. The company believes that this can be addressed by system integration wherein stabilisation systems will pull and provide data from other systems onboard. This will result in a more intuitive user interface, thus making it easier for operators to get the most of the systems onboard.