Wickens Engineering use affordable IoT technologies to help relocate a Dry Stack company from the Ben Ainslie Racing site

As the recently opened BAR building becomes fully operational during the America’s World Cup Series this month, the team will be housed on the site of a boat dry stack which relocated to the south side of Portsmouth’s Camber Dock, to help make way for the new BAR base.

With only 3 months to start building work on their new site KB Boat Park Dry Stack working in association with Portsmouth City Council, called in family-owned dry stack specialists Wickens Engineering to assist.  KB Dry Stack had been operating in Portsmouth for over 10 years, when in 2014 the announcement that Ben Ainslie Racing would be based in Portsmouth flagged up the need to reposition their business.

Wickens helped KB Dry Stack plan the move, which involved changing their then two tier racking system, accommodating 120 boats, to fit a much smaller site on the Dock.  With the challenge to create a new four tier stack quickly, to minimise disruption to the KB Dry Stack operation, Wickens focused on using technology to maximise production efficiency to make the new stack as quickly as possible.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a way of using technology to solve basic questions such as reducing bottlenecks in production.  For Wickens, creating heavy duty racking requires a series of expensive machines and top of the range industrial robots. However, this process can still become inefficient if one single machine is not working at full capacity.

Working with the Warwick Manufacturing Group, based at Warwick University, a small ultrasound scanner has been developed to measure precisely when a cutting machine is busy or idle. Working on a similar principle to a pregnancy monitor, the scanner gives Wickens exact data on how many steel racks it can cut per hour or per day and helps to reduce downtime.   A low cost Raspberry Pi is attached via wifi to the scanner to output its findings as a conventional spreadsheet.

Tim Anderson of KB Boat Yard Dry Stack had no objections in moving to make way for the impressive BAR headquarters. “Our biggest challenge was to make the best use of our new, much smaller site, and get the new dry stack ready in time for the 2015 season.  Wickens have helped us to maximise our vertical space and get up and running on time. In fact, we’ve been able to expand the number of boat spaces we can offer too.”

Wickens Managing Director, Steve Wickens also commented, “To ensure we can produce the most effective dry stack system for our clients, all I want is to know we have maximised our efficiency so we can offer the best value solution.  The IoT approach makes it easy to read our efficiency levels and does not involve expensive or complicated IT solutions.”


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