Navigating success

Established in 1978, UK based Marine Data Systems Ltd has established itself as a leader in the development and manufacture of marine navigation and control systems. The specialist company bases its success on its high quality products, and on the designing of tailored products for its customers. “Our own environmental test facility makes us unique in this market; so most of the tests that would usually be done by an independent test house are undertaken on our premises. We use state-of-the-art expensive equipment to test humidity, temperature, stress, impact stress and vibration for quality assurance and also research and development (R&D) purposes before the products are shipped,” explains John Poyner, business development manager at Marine Data Systems.

The company sells directly to clients in the commercial and military industries and a recent major contract is with French ship builder DCNS. The contract is to design and build bearing repeaters for the Barracuda submarine programme, which is the French Navy’s new nuclearpowered submarine programme. “We are very proud of winning this project because we faced intense international competition. It was a highly technical specification that we were able to complete on time, and to budget over a period of 12 months. Supplying to the DCNS is a terrific opportunity for us because these large ship building companies operate all over the world and we would hope to supply our products to those vessels too,” says John. It is hoped that Marine Data equipment will also be used on the ships designed by DCNS for the Indian Navy or Brazilian Navy. The company has completed similar contracts for the Spanish Navy, and a contract with the Australian Navy for its air warfare defence destroyers was completed last year.

With most of its customers overseas, Marine Data Systems has recently opened offices in Hong Kong and Singapore to support business opportunities in the Far East. The company’s export sales accounted for 96 per cent of business in 2011, which led to it being awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise in International Trade and winning the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Business Award for Excellence last year. At the award ceremony, Tim Ingram, managing director at Marine Data Systems, said: “Receiving this award today is a successful moment for us, and one that we could not have achieved without a long-standing culture of innovation in technology. To design pioneering, market-leading products, it is essential that we not only stay at the forefront of technology but that we also remain ‘up-to-speed’ with the expectations of our customer base.”

Export and growth is very important to the company, with South Korea the next target for expansion. All available data in maritime and industry reports shows that, outside of China, South Korea is where the majority of new build and refurbishment projects are taking place. “There is a lot of work available, which involves keeping existing ships in service by supplying new equipment. We use our expertise to upgrade equipment and provide interfaces to allow new and existing equipment to communicate,” says John. The company is proud of its high quality, rigorously tested products and is keen to defend its position as a market leader while remaining competitively priced. With cheaper options available that are less reliable or resilient, Marine Data Systems will continue its own R&D in house to ensure its products remain high quality and innovative at a cost effective price.

As the ship building industry continues to grow slowly, the business intends to respond to the requirements of its customers and support its products over the coming year. There is a strong focus on expansion and innovation for the company in 2013; new and exciting products will be launching in the next 12 months, while other equipment will be upgraded. With South Korea in its sights, Marine Data Systems is also targeting other areas for future growth. “We plan to expand even further into the international market later this year and next, as we open similar offices in Indonesia and China, which will strengthen our global market share,” enthuses Tim. The Americas, both north and south, are showing potential, and the company is particularly keen to develop a presence in Brazil once interests in the Far East have been consolidated. With strong aims and core values Marine Data Systems knows where it is going over the next five years, as Tim concludes: “We underpin our manufacturing, innovation and research with a desire to build good relationships with our customers. I’m very proud of what we have achieved together. We will continue to build on this as we go forward into the future.”

Marine Data Systems Ltd
Lead developer and manufacturer of marine navigation equipment
Won the Business Award for Excellence in 2012
Future expansion planned in South Korea and the Americas