Electrifying the boat industry – a first for Data Respons

inContext are experts in wire harnesses for the automotive industry. Now they’ve left their comfort zone to go to sea, developing the wiring of a hi-tech electric luxury cruiser on hydrofoils.

  • Published: 10. February 2022
  • By: Arne Vollertsen for Data Respons
  • Company: inContext
The electric boat Candela C-8

The Candela C-8 promises to eliminate two of the most annoying things about speedboating: Engine noise and the boat punching its way through the waves. An all-electric drivetrain eliminates the noise, while hydrofoils turn the punching into a magic carpet ride, lifting the boat out of the water for a smooth ride and a top speed of 30 knots.

Photo of Per Fernlund
Per Fernlund, Head of Operations at inContext.

The C-8 has been described as an “iPhone moment for boats” and a “Tesla on water”. Built in 100 % carbon fiber, and with a price tag starting at 290.000 euros, the C-8 may not be affordable for everyone, but nevertheless it’s a step towards the electrification of boats and ships, large and small. Much is happing in that area, not only related to people enjoying spending their free time on water, but also for instance development of electric ferries, and even experiments with electric container ships.

Great to be a part

Head of Operations at inContext, Per Fernlund, is excited about the part they are playing  in the electrification of transport. And according to him, Candela is an interesting company to work with, since it is preparing other disruptive electrification projects in addition to the C-8, for instance the P-30, the world’s first electric hydrofoil shuttle ferry.

  • In the Stockholm area, where inContext is based, several other companies are working with electrification of transportation, batteries, electric motorcycles etc. New companies are popping up all the time. In my opinion that’s a good thing, not only for the environment. It’s good for the development of the Stockholm area as well, and it feels great to be a part of that.

The inContext engineers have designed the wire harness of the C-8, using their expertise from the automotive industry. But the Candela assignment has posed new challenges to the inContext team. For instance, the boat industries have their own standards to follow. Also, the harness had to be as weight optimal as possible, to give the boat maximum range per battery charge, as well as for the environmental impact and for cost saving reasons. On the other hand, what made the job easier was the fact that a luxury cruiser offers more room for cables than for instance the tight spaces in a truck cabin.

Prototyping electrical the harness

Building prototypes

As mentioned, doing the wire harness for a boat has been a first for inContext. Another new addition to the inContext service portfolio has been the building of prototypes.

  • About one and a half years ago we started building prototypes. Before that we focused solely on working as R&D consultants. Still, that’s what we usually do: designing and developing a wire harness and leaving it to someone else to build it. But now we can also build prototype harnesses, and we can do several iterations and optimize the harness along the way. That means we can deliver a final harness design that is thoroughly tested and in shorter time.

From hand built to volume production

According to Per Fernlund, inContext normally works for large industrial companies with a lot of powerful manufacturing machinery. Candela, however, is a young company which up until now has produced hand built harnesses. For this setup, inContext’s own prototype workshop has manufactured several prototype harnesses. Also, they’ve helped Candela get ready for volume production.

  • Previously, when the boats were built mostly by hand, it took weeks to install the harness. We have been working on bringing installation time down to a few hours, because that’s what needed, when you increase production volume. Moreover, as we know the market well, we’ve helped Candela find good and trustworthy harness suppliers. We sent a data package with all cable harness details out to several cable harness suppliers for quotes. After a couple of weeks with questions, discussions and presentations, Candela decided to collaborate with one of them to optimize and deliver harnesses during the industrialization phase of production.

Workshop training

According to Per Fernlund, working in the prototype workshop and assembling wire harnesses based on computer generated designs is an extremely rewarding training exercise for the inContext engineers.

  • With wire harnesses you can’t do everything in the computer. You must do physical testing as well, because cables behave differently in the reality and are exposed to the surroundings in ways that are hard to see in 3D world. Also, there is much manual labor involved in production of a harness. There is a lot of craftmanship to it, and on top of that, wire harnesses come with thousands of small variations. So, our in-house workshop is good for our customers, and good for us internally as well. It stops us from becoming too theoretical, and we learn a lot about all the tiny details that are so important in this line of work.

Per Fernlund is hoping that inContext will get the opportunity to continue the working relationship with Candela. And not least, he’s looking forward to summer, hoping to be able to test a boat ride in a C-8.