Interview / For NKE, the future is the enslavement of foils and sails

Paul Fraisse, Director of NKE Marine Electronics

Paul Fraisse, director of marine electronics specialist NKE, tells about the company's future and ongoing technology research and business development prospects.

NKE Marine Electronics is a small entity facing the heavyweights of marine electronics. Can you give us some figures to put you in perspective?

NKE Marine Electronics is part of the NKE Group, manufacturer of electronic measuring instruments. The marine entity employs 15 people in Hennebont and generates annual revenues of ?2 million. We manufacture our own sensors and develop all products.

What are your main markets and those you want to develop?

Today, we are present in 3 niches. Offshore racing represents 50% of our activity, regatta 20% and cruising 30%. Even if we originally equip the boats of some niche yards like JPK or Boréal, our cruise customers are generally yachtsmen who go on a trip around the world. We wish to develop this market by insisting on our network of distributors and integrators abroad and on our remote maintenance device which allows us to intervene on the equipment from Hennebont, in case of breakdown. Each NKE customer has the telephone of 2 clearly identified interlocutors for maintenance, and not that of a telephone platform. We also work to create the link with our customer, who comes to visit the company before the delivery of the product, in the image of what the building sites or the sailmakers do.

We also want to develop the clientele for the classic regatta, where the quality of our sensors allows very good performances.

NKE Regatta Processors

What are the main technological developments underway at NKE Marine Electronics?

The main issue at present is sensor noise reduction. This involves cleaning the wind data received to remove effects due to heel, pitch or yaw movements of the boat, in order to obtain the true speed and direction of the actual wind. It is the quality of this information, recovered at a higher frequency than the competition, that allows the performance of NKE autopilots with changing seas and winds. The developments, almost without price limit for ocean racing, allow us today to gradually transcribe these technologies for cruising, at more contained prices.

We will also be offering new displays at the Nautic 2017.

Agitated Sea Electronic Penons that NKE is working on

Apart from autopilot and current electronics, what are the future development areas for NKE?

The foil is what is currently changing the way you navigate. The challenge is obviously to be able to enslave them. Succeeding in a straight line in flat seas does not require much knowledge of electronics. On the other hand, NKE has the knowledge related to autopilots to deal with the effects related to the sea and the boat's movements, which will allow it to fly offshore.

We also work with Mer Agitée on their electronic penons. Such sensors can be used to display trim data on a superyacht where the crew cannot see the sails. We can also imagine a servo control of the sails for automatic operation.

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