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Triton Networking with Ward’s Marine Electric

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Triton Networking, our monthly gathering of yacht industry professionals, continues on the first Wednesday in October at Ward’s Marine Electric, the South Florida-based, family run electrical company.

Ward’s has hosted Triton Networking in the past, and always puts on a great event. Make plans to join us on Oct. 3 from 6-8 p.m. at its Fort Lauderdale compound just south of the New River and west of downtown.

Until then, learn more about Ward’s from COO Kristina Hebert, granddaughter of company founder Ward Eshleman Sr.

Q. Tell us about Ward’s. What do you guys do?

One of the things that makes Ward’s Marine Electric so special is the family of services and expertise we provide. Our strength is in power management, automation, electrical engineering services, battery distribution systems, lighting, and classification society testing.

We have a 10,000-square-foot parts warehouse, and we sell and distribute more than 15,000 marine electrical components.

Our staff of 20 ABYC-certified marine electrical technicians diagnose, repair and upgrade electrical systems.

The Inside Services department is responsible for manufacturing, painting and engraving panelboards and switchboards.

The Engineering department analyzes a vessel’s entire system, from load, arc flash, and harmonic distortion calculations to trip curve coordination studies and every class requirement in between.

We service a vessel’s electrical needs — stem to stern and top to bottom — providing clean, reliable power where it’s needed, when it’s needed. We see safety and reliability as the highest priority for any seagoing vessel. There will never be a time when we sacrifice these values because of the scope of the project or size of boat. With us, it’s all about customer satisfaction and keeping the trust captains have in our products and services.

Q. Ward’s has a few departments crew may not of be aware of. What is one you might want to highlight?

Sales, Service, and Engineering. These departments are the foundation of our business, and it was our motto for many years. Over 20 years ago, we added switchboard and panel production to the list of services available.

In order to provide the WME quality standard in the heart of a yacht’s electrical system, we started designing and producing power distribution equipment in-house. Our panel production department is responsible for all the engineering, assembly, painting, engraving and wiring that goes into each project. Whether the vessel is 25m or 100m, a yacht with WME switchboards and panels has the best possible quality.

Q. Have you seen an increase in high-tech refits?

Most of our large-scale projects are exactly this. Yachts planning a major refit are seeing tremendous benefits from upgrading to current technology. For example, switching a lighting system from incandescent to LED can often allow a reduction in generator capacity. Most of our refits include a detailed analysis of the impact of the changes being considered, which helps make sure the power distribution is scaled correctly. We also help reduce the complexity of technology. Our DEIF and Kohler PGen-based automation systems can be installed in existing switchboard cabinetry and eliminate the complex and difficult-to-maintain PLC-based automation systems found in many of the yachts currently entering their first major refit years.

Q. What’s one thing do you wish captains and/or engineers did to more effectively maintain their systems onboard?

When a yacht’s electrical systems are maintained from inventory carried on board, it’s important to have the work reviewed and perhaps “touched up” by a full-service company like Ward’s. Field-expedient parts can be replaced with original equipment, wiring color codes can be re-matched, and blue tape “engraving” can be replaced to help bring the yacht back into tip-top shape. Also, make sure to develop and use a formal Preventative Maintenance Inspection (PMI) program for all of the electrical systems on board. Periodic maintenance savings can easily outweigh the cost of an unforeseen mid-charter equipment failure.

Q. You once advised engineers to avoid deferring maintenance. What are some signs that they might be putting off maintenance too long?

A careful visual inspection is the best tool in the box. If the wiring for a system is starting to look messy, or if there are splices and junction boxes where there used to be neat cable runs, it’s probably a good time to have the system gone through and restored.

Q. As yachts get bigger, how do you see the business side of the work changing?

In addition to the increase in size, today’s large yacht has a much larger corporate structure behind it. Management companies, charter companies, and brokers have been added to the traditional owner/captain relationship. With that, there is a growing need for formal project management practices.

Ward’s Marine Electric is the industry leader in the adoption of firm, fixed-price proposals and has raised the bar in delivering exactly what we propose to do, and how much it will cost at the end of the project.

Q. There have been a lot of changes in yachting over the years. How has Ward’s evolved with the changes?

After nearly 70 years in business, we’ve learned that evolving is a constant requirement. Our president, Ward Eshleman, is a leader in the whole marine industry with his work as the vice chairman of ABYC, as well as having served as the Electrical Committee chairman for over 20 years.

As the influence of classification societies such as Lloyd’s and ABS has increased, we’ve also increased our electrical engineering capabilities. Our class-required engineering services include full AutoCAD capabilities and 3D modeling, arc flash risk analysis and mitigation, and harmonic distortion analysis and mitigation. We also perform comprehensive corrosion surveys, thermographic surveys, insulation resistance testing, and full-vessel electrical surveys.

Ward’s Marine Electric: Powering the industry for 68 years.

Triton Networking with Ward’s Marine Electric takes place Oct. 3 from 6-8 p.m. at 617 S.W. Third Ave. in Fort Lauderdale (33315). For more information about the event, visit www.the-triton.com and click on “Next Triton Event” in the black bar. For more information about Ward’s, visit www.wardsmarine.com or call +1 954-523-2815.

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About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

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