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Rig telemetry and Marine Results

Future Fibres has been working with ultrasound specialists Marine Results of Hamble, Southampton, who are leading the field in providing advanced imaging techniques for composite yacht rigging. One key process, often missing in the marine NDT industry, is the validation of the ultrasound measurements by destructive analysis and relating the results to mechanical testing.

(courtesy of Future Fibres,

Future Fibres and Marine Results have been scanning multiple laboratory and Real Time Exposure (RTE) samples and validating the NDT measurements with detailed microscopic investigation of cable sections. This allows Future Fibres to relate the NDT measurements to cable performance and fatigue life. This is an ongoing process; however, significant progress has been made towards identifying key cable life indicators plus identifying opportunities for further product improvements.

In F1 design and engineering, objectivity and data collection underpin everything. The principle is that you have to fully understand an existing solution to allow improvements to be quantified. The marine industry is a relatively slow adopter of new technology. Rig tune and performance is still considered something of a dark art because of the perceived complexity and hostility of the marine environment. However, in reality, the middle of an F1 engine is just as hostile! The technology for data collection exists – it just needs to be applied. Future Fibres has always believed in a robust, evidence-based methodology to back up its product development and the move into carbon fibre is opening the doors on a whole new range of possibilities.

In the past, with a product set based on PBO, there have been no technologies available to allow us to assess the state of the inside of a dry fibre cable. However, with the introduction of solid carbon, a variety of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) options offer some interesting benefits:

· Improved speed and robustness of R&D test methodologies

· Non-destructive assessment of used/in-service cables

· Real-time performance monitoring of both mast and rigging

Whilst ultra-sound in association with destructive, microscopic investigation provides great insight, the downside of this testing methodology is that it is a reactive, static test. Future Fibres has recently been working with more active, dynamic forms of NDT where we can see what is going on inside the cable during loading and fatigue testing. This type of technology is currently being used to develop and optimise F1 composite parts. Whilst a period of time is necessary to understand exactly what it is we are ‘seeing’, the benefits of live NDT data are significant in terms of reducing R&D lifecycles for development of new products and custom components.

Once the development phase has been completed, using dynamic NDT methods, this opens up the possibility of real time monitoring of rigging. Future Fibres sees two direct customer benefits from active telemetry from yacht rigs. The first is tuning for performance and getting the most out of a mast and rigging based on design numbers. Secondly, there is long-term monitoring to determine fatigue and cable life.

Whilst they are currently using this technology to develop and manage their new high performance rigging products, the same technologies and principles could be applied to monitoring mast performance. Once the live data stream starts flowing, the focus will shift to data interpretation. This will put those involved in a much stronger position to break down some of the myths surrounding the ‘dynamic marine environment’ and drive the next significant jump in design improvements. A shift based on hard data rather than assumption.