09/16/20 6:15 pm

electronic flares

Mars International was founded in 1964 to deliver electrical and mechanical assemblies and finished goods through our extensive world-class manufacturing network. Pioneering a global offshore manufacturing strategy, we are global leaders in the contract manufacturing industry. The following case study will demonstrate our flair for innovation.

The Challenge

Our client needed a visual distress signal as a replacement for traditional chemical flares for the marine industry as required by the Coast Guard. It needed to be handheld and contain certain distress beacons like a flash pattern incorporating several optical colors.

The challenge in the product design and development was that our engineers needed to meet a strict lighting pattern, according to the Coast Guards specifications. It also needed to be battery operated, remain visual for a minimum required time, waterproof, and remain upright when deployed in the water. The additional challenge meant it needed to be easy to deploy and operate in an emergency.

Our engineers concluded that we needed to design the optics first to ensure we could accomplish the required flash and lighting pattern before looking at the encasement design.

The Design Process

Our engineers used purchased software to predict the lighting pattern of the optic used and followed up with testing in our laboratory, using a goniometer to measure the actual output to confirm the results.

Because the specifications required the device to meet a certain load light, our engineers used the goniometer, a large measuring machine that could deploy a full 360 degrees sphere to measure points of light. The testing included measuring each individual point for light output that went beyond the specifications.

With the optical portion resolved, our engineers now had proof of concept. The optical design was housed into an enclosure creating a device that now had to meet further specifications. It needed to be completely waterproof, had to float, and remain upright with a certain amount of tolerance. Fitted with a printed circuit board inside and the batteries on top, the batteries needed the capacity to stay lit for a specified amount of time.

The design took into consideration, if a user is injured or disabled, they need to be able to turn it on easily in an emergency situation. Designed with a one-meter long lanyard attached, it could be clipped onto a life vest. The bungee cord around the outside meant the user could tie it off to a portion of the boat making it ergonomically user friendly.

Ongoing Feedback

Throughout the concept and design stage, our engineers conferred with our clients regularly to elicit their feedback to ensure the project stayed on track. It was important that the design not only met the Coast Guards specifications, it also had to meet our client’s approval at each stage of the project.

Occasionally Mars engineers have free reign in the design and manufacturing of a product. However, in this case, we preferred to confer with the client throughout the project and make changes along the way. We’ve found this is the best approach to keep the end goal closest to what the client wants.

The Results

The results speak for itself – the device is easily used in an emergency situation

As an alternative to a chemical flare that expires every four years, all you need to do with this innovation is to replace the battery in the electronic version. An Electronic flare is kinder to the environment as you don’t need to deal with chemical disposal as required with expired traditional flares.

The electronic flare has a huge advantage over chemical flares with many states making a big push to reduce chemical waste and the monitoring of improper disposal. It also allows those in the chemical industry of marine safety to switch to an electronic flare as an alternative keeping their own businesses viable as new regulations are introduced.

Vision for the Future

Mars International engineers developed something unique by using our specialized optical measuring equipment differentiating ourselves with our proprietary optical design. Our point of difference is we have created an alternative to a lens solution. This LED pattern distributes light according to the coast guard requirements without a lens.

To speak with one of our experts about global manufacturing technology and services, contact us at Mars International on 908-233-0101 to discuss how our engineers can bring your concept into the future.