Op-Ed: Access technology to improve touch points in workboats

Written by Heather Ervin
workboat pulling barge

Workboat builders and operators look for high quality, well-designed access hardware and positioning solutions on the deck, cabin, cockpit and engineering spaces. (Credit: iStock)

By Mike Kiefer, Business Development Manager-Transportation, Southco Inc.

The current global market for workboats is still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lingering supply chain and labor force complications, although growth in demand for cruise ships and workboats to support offshore wind farms in many global locations may grow.

Workboat builders and operators continue to refine key elements of their deck, cabin, cockpit and engineering spaces to make them more efficient, secure and safe. High quality, well-designed access hardware and positioning solutions—latches, hinges and position control devices for display screens—can provide safety, ease of use and comfort to boat owners, passengers and crews.

A key factor to consider when selecting these devices is the touch point experience: the quality, efficiency and ease of effort users experience when opening a heavy storage compartment door or adjusting a display screen’s position. If the touch point is quiet, tight, secure and feels right, it makes a subtle yet ongoing positive impression on the overall perception of quality.

Along with the touch point experience, builders of large boats are also focused on selecting hardware that contributes to easier maintenance, greater safety and dependable operation over long operating life cycles, especially considering the impact of environmental factors such as temperature extremes and salt water exposure.

HINGE TECHNOLOGY

The right hinge technology can contribute to these efforts. Constant torque position control hinges offer a stylish, cleanly designed appearance and powerful holding torque, eliminating the need for secondary support components such as gas struts and door stays. Leading hinge manufacturers offer these kinds of hinges in a wide range of styles to complement different design aesthetics.

Counterbalance hinges provide an effective and proven option for heavier access panels enclosing wiring, storage and engine compartments. Counterbalancing torque offsets the weight of the panel, easing the effort required to move panel.

Securely closing these kinds of doors is critical to protect against accidental opening during rough seas. Depending on the size of the door, electronic rotary compression latches provide motorized assistance to create a tighter seal on doors. With these systems, the latch engages and then compresses the door and gasket to ensure that a complete seal is achieved.

MOUNTS FOR ADVANCED FEATURES

Whether in the cockpit, engineroom or cabins, electronic display screens are widely installed throughout boat spaces. Monitor mounts are now available that support intuitive and ergonomic positioning of displays with a range of options, such as simple tilt devices or mount arms that allow the display to be easily manipulated into multiple axes. Some of the best mounts incorporate advanced features that ensure they do not loosen when exposed to the kinds of vibrations routinely present on ships.

Choosing the right hardware combines design considerations with functional requirements. For the right guidance, it makes sense to work with leading manufacturers and suppliers of high-quality latches, hinges and positioning technology. They can provide expert suggestions on the right devices to choose for a given panel, door or monitor mount, to ensure safe, reliable and efficient workboat operations that enhance the experience of all who come aboard.

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