Southco Marine is developing effective latching and access solutions for in-cabin and on-deck applications, enabling boat builders to cater for the growing shift towards larger and more expensive boats

According to Lucintel research, the global boat market is expected to grow to $27.8 billion by 2015 with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 8.9%. Much of this growth will come from the Europe and Asia Pacific regions. In terms of specific boat building industry trends, the research states there is an ongoing shift toward larger and expensive boats.

To meet marine industry requirements, Southco is developing bow-to-stern latching and positioning solutions. It has recently, for example, enhanced its range of interior hardware products, which are designed to add style, performance and security to cabin interiors.

Aware that boat builders and designers, particularly those at the luxury end of the market, are looking for more than technically innovative solutions, the company works closely with customers during the design cycle.

Stewart Beck of Southco Marine, comments: “We provide consultation and solutions which culminate in a style that goes beyond performance by catching the eye and detail that complements the interior design and creates differentiation.”

Concealed solutions

To help revolutionise marine access, the company has leveraged the hidden or concealed latching solutions successfully developed for the global off-highway and automotive industries.

It has, for example, developed a range of stainless steel and corrosion resistant latches which offer different aesthetics, styling and functionality. Here, it has taken the traditional stainless steel standard style latch to open a deck hatch and developed it for the marine industry with the proven technology of its stainless steel R4 push-to-close rotary latch, which provides vandal resistance, long term durability and reliability. Allowing direct, remote or multi-point actuation, these latches have been designed and manufactured to stand up to even the most demanding challenges of the marine environment.

Beck takes up the story: “With the R4 marine range, we can now provide boat builders with a totally different and more effective deck latching solution whilst giving them back control of the styling of their boats. Because our hardware is completely hidden away underneath the panel, the days of having to do awkward cut-outs or inlaying of teak – or even being saddled with the cost and effort of having to break up the edges of the trim in order to fit a latch around a variety of different panel fixes and brackets – are now gone. The Southco latch mechanism has been designed to be hidden underneath the panel, enabling flush and stylish lines – whether straight or curved. The mechanism incorporates a range of actuators, cables and configurations to enable boat owners to trigger the latch remotely from wherever they choose. For emergency opening, they can be triggered manually from within the compartment where required.”

Typical applications for these include engine access covers, under deck compartments, secure storage hatches and water tight panels.

In addition, the company has further enhanced its range of storage access solutions with the launch of the E4 Catcher push-to-close, push-to-open latch. Opened or closed with just a touch of a finger on the front of the panel, the Catcher – which is available in plastic or stainless steel – is suitable for non-deck high strength exterior marine applications where corrosion resistance and durability is required.

Having provided boat builders with state-of-the-art entry mechanical latching solutions which can be ‘hidden away’ on the outside and deck area of boats, Southco is now developing a range of electronic versions with a choice of input signal options such as push button, key fob and membrane keypads. Operational benefits include the capability for users to build in such functions as time delays.

Interior access solutions

Boat builders and owners are voicing a preference to incorporate the ‘flush looking’ and ‘hidden away’ theme of Southco’s cabin and cockpit entry latching solutions to the inside of their boats. One product now available for this is the slim-profile magnetically actuated MP Polar push-to-close latch. This provides smooth, secure, deadbolt operation that prevents accidental opening of sliding drawers, cabinets or cupboard doors due to high seas.

The company has also developed an electronic addition to this latch incorporating the push-button mechanism with a mini electronic keeper. As the drawer or cupboard door closes, the magnet pulls the striker out and the electronic keeper locks the two parts together. When the boat is released and unlocked electronically, the electronic keeper is fired and unlocked from the back, allowing the Polar latch to function normally.

Giving boat owners the capability to lock compartments such as drawers and cupboards when they lock their boats gives an additional level of security.