Sparkling results for Landau UK at 2018 ECMAs

Landau UK CEO Ben Metcalfe receiving Spirit of Innovation Award
Industry Database

The impressive new Lifecord won the European Commercial Marine Award for Safety & Training and took the overall Spirit of Innovation award. We take a closer look at the winning product…

What is Lifecord?

Since the early 1990's kill cords and switches have been fitted to virtually every new outboard engine on workboats, motorboats and commercial/leisure RIBs, up to around twenty-five foot in length, world-wide. They are designed to cut the engine should the driver of the boat inadvertently become separated from the helm.

The Lifecord is a new kill cord with a unique design that works with any vessel switch and detects when it is being worn, via a waterproof, tension sensing device.  Until the Lifecord is attached to the driver of the vessel it emits an intermittent audio and visual signal that increases in volume to warn that it is not attached when the engine is running.

What prompted Landau UK to add the product to its range?

Specifically, it was the investigation into a fatal leisure boating accident in the Camel estuary, Cornwall, UK in 2013. A family were thrown from their RIB and it failed to stop as, during a pilot change, the kill cord was not re-connected. This shocking tragedy prompted the development of a cord which alerts both the pilot and crew should the kill cord not be worn, much like a seatbelt warning in a car.

How was the product developed?

The team behind Lifecord first needed to understand the weaknesses in the existing kill cord and look at the circumstances behind kill cord related accidents. The reality is that the existing kill cord is virtually bomb proof if it’s worn and that’s where the problem lies. A Motorboat & Yachting magazine reader survey confirmed that 83% of those polled admitted that they had forgotten at some point to wear their kill cord.

The team undertook research with engine manufacturers, insurance companies and training establishments and all agreed that the certainty of a tethered connection between helm and pilot is the most effective and quickest way of cutting the engine should the pilot be thrown from the helm. They also consulted with specialist marine experts including Landau UK’s CEO Ben Metcalfe, Tony Birr of Century Maritime, ex head of Hampshire Constabulary’s Marine Unit and Motorboat & Yachting editor, Hugo Andreae. Their diverse wealth of experience provided advice in areas such as risk mitigation, product expectations and the habits of boat users.

The extensive research and consultation led to the successful release of Lifecord by Cordsafe Ltd, manufactured to the highest possible specification in the UK, under quality procedures complying with BS EN ISO 9001 and to IP67 waterproofing and dust/particle inhibition standards.

Lifecord detects when it’s connected to the vessel’s kill switch. It acknowledges that connection with a series of beeps. Should the pilot not then connect the other end round their leg, 10 seconds later it alarms, relatively quietly at first, then in further 10 second intervals the alarm becomes increasingly loud. Orange flashing LEDs operate simultaneously with the alarm.

Lifecord offers other improvements over existing kill cords and helps to solve issues raised I in a recent RYA survey. It found that 30% of those boat users polled left their kill cords permanently attached to the vessel's kill switch. This can cause ultra violet damage and other deterioration to the cord itself as it remains exposed to the elements for long periods when the boat is not in use. Also, this habit can damage or weaken the spring in a vessel’s kill switch, making it unreliable. Lifecord assists in remedying both these concerns, the alarm encouraging removal from the kill switch and storage in a locker away from the elements. The product’s packaging itself is a PVC/nylon branded drawstring bag likely to be retained by the user for ongoing product storage when not in use and leaving very little of the original packaging to recycle.

How was the product brought to market?

…with much hard work from both Landau UK’s CEO Ben Metcalfe, CEO and Key Account and Sales Manager, Louise Dale. The product has been well received by the industry and the feedback has been incredibly positive

The launch is just one part of Landau UK’s recently announced rapid expansion plans for 2019. They include adding a raft of new service offerings to its portfolio, with the aim of tripling the size of the business and turnover within just three years.

CEO Ben Metcalfe says, “It’s been a phenomenal twenty-five years for Landau UK, from setting up the company in a bedroom in Whiteley, to our state-of-the-art facilities in the prestigious Swanwick Marina. From our initial contract with Princess, to launching the commercial arm of the business in 2014 and our contract with the MOD / Babcock, we’ve seen enormous growth.  However, as we expand and grow the business we are committed to keep the ‘family feel’ our customers expect from us.  We will continue to focus on providing quick reactions, attention to detail, emergency repairs and second-to-none customer service”.

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