Rik van Hemmen's blog

Halloween is quite an important commercial event in the United States (Annual US Halloween sales amount to US$8.4B, about the entire NASA manned space budget), but the maritime community has had a hard time breaking into this industry (The pirate costume licensing fee thing never worked out). Still, that does not mean there are no opportunities. 

 

Possibly the best business opportunity is pumpkin boat building. Pumpkin boat building has been taking place since at least 1996, but the level of technical improvement has been disappointing to say the least. It is obvious that naval architects have not been involved in the development of this type of vessel. It probably makes sense for the Naval Architectural community to have ignored pumpkin boats for the last two decades, but now it appears the moment has come where we should start to look at these vessels as a potential business opportunity since the construction material appears to have matured.

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When we talk about efficiencies it often becomes difficult to figure out who benefits from the efficiency. Airlines may be as efficient as they can be (spend the least amount on wages and fuel per passenger moved) but that does not mean that airline travel is efficient for the passengers. They may stand in long lines, be shunted through airports they do not want to visit and fly at times they do not want to fly. In other words, from the passenger’s point of view, each airline flight is often very inefficient.

 

Efficiency needs to be evaluated at a system level and the point of view needs to be defined. In 2009 David JC MacKay (1967-2016) wrote a wonderful book called “Sustainable Energy - without the Hot Air” and in that book he very carefully describes present day energy efficiencies and provides guidance on what efficiencies can be achieved. The book received very high praise and he was appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. However, he made a very interesting error in his analysis.

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It is always important to ask “why” about every detail in every design, since bad design imposes a penalty on every user for the life of the bad design. 

 

Bad design can hang around forever even if good design exists. I often ask “why?” when I am forced to use a badly designed cleat on a boat when we have a near perfect design in the 100 year old Herreshoff cleat.

 

We don't come across enough of these "why's", but I came across a nice one a few days ago.

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This is a Guest Blog by our U. Mich summer intern Sam Edwards.

 

I was handed off progress on Project 114 by a previous intern in the office. He had added in a feature to plot the sections of files that were input to the “Hydro2A” calc engine as well as started the design of a “Marine High School Research Vessel”, or MHSRV. My goal was to continue tinkering with Project 114 as well as to continue design on the MHSRV.

 

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In March of 2015 Solar Impulse started its around the world adventure and today it brought the adventure to completion; an around the world flight entirely on solar power. As I noted in an earlier blog this is a first order achievement that has only occurred a few times in human history.

 

 

Still it is difficult to make real sense of this achievement at this stage.

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The Maxi Taxi concept describes the advantages of convoying in saving fuel during highway travel. Cars that closely follow each other can achieve impressive reductions in total air drag. Air drag is the leading overall drag component at higher speeds and therefore represents the lion’s share of a car’s fuel consumption at speed.

 

 

Air drag is a complex subject, and the original maxi taxi concept aimed to reduce overall air drag by fitting a number of cars as close together as possible and thereby to create a drag profile that is similar to a railroad train, which is basically a flexible tube that is being dragged through the air. We can achieve a similar effect with car convoys and the cars do not have to be the same, but equal width would be real a benefit.

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Project 114 is an innovative approach to engineering computations that is being developed for SNAME by Steve Hollister. In essence, it will be a suit of basic NAME computer programs that run on an Excel input/output backbone. This approach is quite powerful and runs a careful middle ground between large, canned, NAME program suites and home grown NAME computer programming. This effort is not meant to displace large powerful computational packages, but rather is meant to provide tools for occasional users and to allow a useful and standardized entry point for NAME amateurs, students and occasional users.

 

The project is further described at the SNAME website and at present a hydrostatics, a Savitsky and a basic powering module are available for experimentation. (beta testing?)  

 

In March we were contacted by Monmouth County's High Technology High School and asked if we could place a student for the Spring. High Tech High School is one of the Monmouth County Vocational High Schools with which M&O has a steady interation and is one of the best technical high schools in the country.

 

High Tech wanted Brady Donahue to attend at our office for 3 months of Fridays since he had expressed an interest in vehicle design. Fortunately we had the perfect job for him; to be the first true student guinea pig for Project 114. read more »

Rik van Hemmen's picture
Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Join the Martin & Ottaway Team.

 

Wanted:

 

Licensed graduate Marine Engineer or graduate Naval Architect (0-5 years experience) for junior consultant position at Martin & Ottaway headquarters in Red Bank, NJ.

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An April 12 article in the Maritime Executive reports on a Rolls Royce statement that robot ships will be trading by 2020.

 

Apparently, through the Rolls-Royce led Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA), researchers suggested that engineering hurdles would not be major obstacle. There is no doubt that if engineering hurdles refer to hardware, that autonomous ships should be easier than autonomous aircraft or cars. A ship floats, and all it needs is a reliable means of propulsion to get where it needs to go using an autopilot and GPS.

 

In many ways the technology is already installed in ships and can be modified from off the shelf equipment even with inexpensive equipment used in recreational vessels.

 

If one wants to add rules of the road and accident avoidance one can add ARPA style radar and some programming, and maybe IR or LIDAR and to a large extent things are quite doable. But are these the actual engineering hurdles?

 

On a total ship system level, the engineering becomes much fuzzier, and upon closer examination I would argue that a robotic ship system is much more complicated than a robotic airplane or car system.

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Rik van Hemmen's picture
Monday, April 11th, 2016

In Memoriam Gene Ferrari

On Friday April 8, 2016 we lost our dear friend Gino Ferrari. Gino was an icon in the New York maritime industry and a person who both maintained the highest standards and at the same time always looked for ways to make life just a little better and a little more fun for everybody in the industry.

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