Hello Sirs and Madams,
I'm an undergraduate Mechanical Engineering student at UBC in Vancouver, BC, Canada. In the final year of our degree, all engineering students are required to complete a culminating design project for a real-world client. My team has been engaged by a local rigid hull inflatable boat manufacturer to create a vessel-integrated, automated collar inflation and pressure monitoring system.
As part of our project requirements, my team is required to carry out a user needs assessment, as well as create a market assessment. We've experienced considerable difficulty identifying local owner/operators willing to have a conversation with us, so we have decided to look slightly further abroad.
I was hoping that some of you fine, upstanding forum members, would be willing to answer some basic questions regarding your current methods for collar pressure maintenance, as well as your opinions regarding what features/functionality you would like to see in an on-board, automated system.
My team and I would very appreciative if you could answer all, or a portion thereof, of the following questions:
1) What size of RIB do you own/operate?
2) How many compartments constitute that vessel's collar?
3) What is the general category of use for the vessel? Recreational? Commercial/Industrial? Enforcement/SAR?
4) What equipment and methods do you currently employ to inflate/maintain the compartment pressures? For example: How do you assess collar pressures? By 'feel' or sound? A portable or permanently installed gauge? When required, how do you top up the compartments? A foot pump? Portable compressor (DC or AC supplied)? Compressed gas cylinders? On-board compressor and distribution system?
5) Approximately how much did your current system cost to purchase?
6) How frequently do you check and/or top up the pressure in the collar?
7) With your current system, approximately how long does this process take on average? Please include time to assess pressures, set up your inflation system, inflate the collar compartments, and take down.
8) On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your current system? We'd appreciate any justification you are willing to provide. What do you specifically like or dislike about it?
9) How interested would you be in replacing your current system with one that would not require bringing any equipment to the vessel, would automatically alert the operator to low collar pressures, and could quickly inflate the collar to specified pressure with a single press of a button? This could be done dockside or on the water.
10) Could you suggest any specific functionality or features that would, in your opinion, add significant value to such as system?
11) Could you estimate the total cost (system + installation) at which such a system would become significantly less appealing than your original assessment? (I realize cheaper is always better, but at what point would cost prevent you from seriously considering purchasing such a system?)
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this extensive post, and my team and I would be indebted to any of you able and willing to respond.
If anyone believes that this post would be appropriate for posting in another sub-forum/topic where it may be viewed/responded to more frequently, please let me know.
For anyone whose made it this far down, thanks for reading!!