The Dexter Products Company is a long established family owned company
employing 9 people in the design, development and manufacture of general
engineering products. The company's turnover is 500 K Euro per annum.
Dexter Product's main market is the UK, with over 70% of its product
sales being in this market. Exports are achieved to European companies
via approved agents in these countries, and to the Indian subcontinent
via an agent.
Approximately 45% of the company's product range is for the fishing
industry, and these products include sports fishing equipment, lines
and hooks, and specialised equipment designed to meet the needs of commercial
fishermen. The company's other products include handcuffs and precision
turned components for OEM suppliers. The company had no previous microelectronics
The company's Microliner monofilament longline fishing system is designed
for commercial applications. The fishing method utilises a very long
thin line populated with many baited short hook lines to catch the fish.
This method of fishing is commonly used by fishermen, especially in
Norway, but is limited to use on boats of typically less than 15 metres
in length. This constraint is determined by the fact that the hauling
systems on these vessels must be manually operated.
There is a significant commercial opportunity for the supply of mono-filament
longline systems for larger commercial fishing vessels, but this manual
operation constraint required to be removed..
The objective of this application experiment was to introduce electronic
control of the spooling and hauling systems employed in the company's
longline fishing systems so as to enable these systems to be employed
on larger vessels with minimum operator intervention.
The functions performed by the microcontroller include:
- Maintaining a constant tension in the line as the mono-filament
line is deployed to lay the line in the optimum manner.
- Tension control of the line during hauling. The tension of the
line storage must be carefully controlled so as to prevent line damage
when the line dries out after being wound in a wet state.
- Line tensioning monitoring to detect events such as line snags
when hooks are caught or obstructed, and the automatic reduction in
spooling speed or stopping of the reels to enable the obstruction
to be removed.
- The provision for operators to control the line shooting and line
- Facilities to enable line maintenance and repair.
The introduction of a reliable mono-filament line fishing system will
generate additional sales for the company. The additional sales revenue
will produce a payback period for the prototype development costs of
58 K Euro, 53 K Euro of which was funded under the FUSE programme, of
approximately 21 months. The return on investment (ROI) over a 5 year
product life is estimated at 611%.