Raymarine splashes out in pursuit of cold fact

Raymarine splashes out in pursuit of cold fact

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Raymarine’s environmental test centre assesses the integrity of the company’s product range with exceptional thoroughness, beginning with the thermal chambers and Wet Room

Operating on vessels in extreme maritime environments can chill you to the marrow! Raymarine Ambassador Juho Karhu has first-hand experience of this truth, having in 2019 sailed an ordinary 1980s Beneteau Idylle from Finland to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Much as Juho loves snow and ice, he needed to know his equipment could deal with it too, and chose Raymarine to help him navigate the ice-strewn waters of the Barents Sea.

Sailors in polar waters can experience huge seas, and with summer temperatures typically around -10°C, dropping to -30°C or lower in winter, having the right equipment is a matter of survival. Unprotected skin will freeze in less than five minutes in such conditions.

To witness how such tests are implemented is eye-opening. A tour of the centre begins with the thermal chambers, where products are repeatedly tested and soaked overnight to ensure they start up, restart and function over a massive temperature range, from -25°C to 55°C, and survive non-operational storage from -30°C to 70°C.

Raymarine - Test Centre

If a hostile environment can do such a number on sailing crews, imagine what it can do to their boats. Mariners obviously need to trust their equipment, whatever nature, fate and circumstance throw at it – which is why Raymarine gives all its products such a punishingly hard time in its mind-boggling Fareham-based environmental test centre.

Raymarine - Test Centre

In order to meet and exceed the parameters of the IEC 60945 tests for maritime navigation and radiocommunication equipment and systems, not a single thing is left to chance at the facility. Tested factors include power input variations, temperature and humidity extremes, solar radiation, salt spray and fog, waterproofness, vibration and careless handling in transit.

To witness how such tests are implemented is eye-opening. A tour of the centre begins with the thermal chambers, where products are repeatedly tested and soaked overnight to ensure they start up, restart and function over a massive temperature range, from -25°C to 55°C, and survive non-operational storage from -30°C to 70°C.

Raymarine - Test Centre

A significant increase in ambient noise heralds the self-explanatory Wet Room, a water ingress area where signs warn staffers to wear ear defenders as they carry out IPX6 tests. Products carry this rating if they can withstand arduous tests designed to assess an item’s water- and/or dustproofing capabilities. One such test requires products to be continually sprayed with at least 100lt of water per minute from a fire hose, for a minimum of 30 minutes, and for the unit to continue to function both during and after the test.

The industry standard requires products to be left in a damp and drizzly atmosphere for half an hour, but Raymarine leaves them for an entire day to replicate real-world usage, with testers taking the products apart to make sure there’s no water inside: a drip of water over the life of a product becomes a flood inside the unit.

Raymarine - Test Centre

A lay person might be surprised at this juncture to discover that the water ingress tests are just getting started, as the next blog in this series will reveal…

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