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RNLI – designing sustainable lifeboat launch systems

The RNLI attend over 15,000 incidents annually, with an average of 22 people rescued each day. Keeping their equipment well-maintained is therefore of critical importance to their rescue operations. It can also make a huge difference to the charity’s finances, as daily wear and tear on equipment can cost up to £260,000 per year.

In order to prevent friction damage to launch slipways, lifeboat crewmen would apply a layer of grease, but long term use had both environmental and safety implications. Through working with engineers at Bournemouth University, a solution was developed which led to the redesign of slipway panels, thus doubling their lifespan.  A move from grease to a water-based lubricant also helped to reduce the environmental damage caused.

The development helped save the RNLI around £1 million over the course of five years, which allowed more resources to be focused on saving lives.