WelTec Engineering Students Upgrade Interislander

Press Release – Wellington Institute of Technology

If you’re crossing Cook Strait this summer, and if you’re lucky enough to be doing it on the Interislander ferry Arahura, you should know that two WelTec diploma students have had a significant role in helping make your journey all the more comfortable.WelTec Engineering Students Upgrade Interislander’s – Arahura Air Conditioning

If you’re crossing Cook Strait this summer, and if you’re lucky enough to be doing it on the Interislander ferry Arahura, you should know that two WelTec diploma students have had a significant role in helping make your journey all the more comfortable.

Jesse Chalmers and Pheab Pheng recently designed and installed a below-decks engineering upgrade on the vessel to improve the ship’s air conditioning. Controls on the 28-year-old ship’s equipment dated from an electro-mechanical era, and were struggling to maintain comfortable conditions for crew and passengers.

Jesse and Pheab jumped at the opportunity to come up with a solution and adopted it as their final years’ joint project.

They first investigated the performance of the air conditioning setup with a datalogger of their own design and much of the monitoring was carried out under realistic conditions at sea. Their tests revealed unacceptable air conditioning performance, with excessive temperature fluctuations and prolonged machinery operation.

Interislander management then asked them to design and install a cost-effective upgrade. The tight vessel sailing schedule meant significant amounts of this work would have to again be done at sea however.

A programmable logic controller (PLC) approach was adopted, using leading-edge Zelio Logic smart relays, programmed via Function Block language. After extensive testing and evaluation, ashore and at sea, the compact new system was installed and switched over during a late-night Cook Strait voyage. Commissioning trials since have shown the new system has been most successful, with favourable comments already about the now pleasant onboard air temperatures.

Peter Mathews, engineering manager for Interislander is very happy with the job Jesse and Pheab have done. “Their efforts have certainly improved the performance of the air conditioning system on the Arahura. The new setup is spreading the load on the compressors and holds the temperature to a much more consistent level. We’re certainly very happy with the job.”

WelTec’s supervising electro-technology tutor, Stan Swan, praised the students for using state of the art technology in such a demanding real-world environment, and joined with Interislander in applauding Jesse and Pheab in bringing the tight budget project to such a satisfactory outcome.

ENDS

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