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2020 IBEX Innovation Award Winner Interview with Attwood Corporation

News Date: March 8, 2021

2020 Winner Interviews

New in 2020

The Sahara Mk2 Automatic Bilge Pump Range

The Sahara Mk2 is the only automatic bilge pump that eliminates air locks with its innovative patented X-Air™ Impeller. Its engineered performance forces air bubbles trapped in the hose and underside of the pump out of the pipework, so that the pump will not run dry and burn out. This breakthrough technology makes Sahara Mk2 the most reliable automatic bilge pump in freshwater and saltwater applications.

What problem does this product solve?
Sahara Mk2 is the only automatic bilge pump that eliminates air locks. To explain, after a bilge pump has removed the unwanted water and switched off, residual water in the hose line drains down back through the system. Some of the water can catch in dips or sags in the pipework, trapping air between the bends and the underside of the pump. When the bilge refills with water and the pump starts again, the trapped air keeps the impeller from making contact with the water, thus preventing it from moving the water up and out. The motor will continue to run, but no water will be discharged. This may lead to overheating which can cause major damage and ultimately early pump failure. To solve this problem, ASG Engineers developed the X-Air™ Impeller, which is specifically designed to force air bubbles trapped in the hose and underside of the pump out of the pipework. As a result, the pump will not run dry and burn out.

How did Attwood become aware of the problem this product solves?
Air lock or vapor lock is a common issue with bottom intake design pumps that has plagued the industry, for which there has been no dependable solution, until now.

What obstacles or complications did you encounter?
Sahara Mk2 was the first project conducted according to the updated new product development process. The team had to learn new requirements, reporting templates, and documentation that, while complicated and time consuming, proved to be helpful in steering the program. COVID-19 added another level of complexity. Travel restrictions forced the team to migrate to online only and ship prototypes back and forth between members located all around the world.

Attwood Sahara Mk2 Automatic Bilge Pump Range

What was the product development process?
At ASG, we strive for our products to meet the highest standards in efficiency, performance, reliability, and above all else, safety. The Sahara Mk2 project underwent extensive testing and approval following a process adopted from Mercury Marine’s new product development program. We have invested heavily in a semi-automated manufacturing system for faster, more consistent production and oversight that ensures the product leaves the factory without fault. For example, optical sensors ensure the components are fitted correctly and the end of line equipment tests every single pump to confirm that it is fit for use.

Are customizations available?
Sahara Mk2 is available to boatbuilders with a variety of special electrical connectors and outlet types for even easier installation. Our outlet fittings are the only ones in the industry that are dual sizes and compatible with both US and European pipe standards.

Attwood Sahara Mk2 Automatic Bilge Pump Range

Are there other components required for the product to perform or components that would enhance user experience?
Sahara Mk2 comes equipped with a Non-Return Valve in the outlet. We highly recommend using this check valve to help prevent the water from backflowing through the pump and constantly cycling.

Were there noteworthy personnel involved with this product?
The invention of the X-Air™ Impeller is thanks to Senior Product Development Engineer, James Wylie. Credit also goes to the entire cross functional team that united and worked tirelessly in the midst of a global pandemic.

Was this product manufactured sustainably?
For safety devices, such as Sahara Mk2, we utilize virgin materials for their reliable quality. ASG is also working to improve our product packaging to be widely recyclable and more efficient in manufacturing operations.

Does this product lend itself to being green?
The green credentials come from our easy-to-recycle packaging and the intelligent design that reduces power consumption and delivers the most efficient automatic bilge pump available today. Sahara Mk2 is engineered to outlast our previous versions as well as the competition. Part of this is due to the patented X-Air™ Impeller which eliminates the negative effects of air locks as well as the inclusion of the Non-Return Valve that keeps the pump from cycling on and off as the water drains back into the bilge.

What else should we know about this product?
Sahara Mk2 is universally backwards compatible. The basket includes a 7-pump mounting hole pattern that adapts to any top bilge pump in its category.

For more information about the 2020 IBEX Innovation Award winners, click here.

Attwood

About

Attwood, a division of Advanced Systems Group (ASG) by Brunswick, has been a proven marine industry leader for over 100 years. Attwood’s wide range of products, including general marine accessories, seat and table hardware, and water systems and ventilation, are tested to the highest USCG, ABYC, and CE standards. At Attwood, quality is our highest priority.

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2020 Innovation Award Winner

Category: Mechanical Systems

“A brilliant application of simple physics to solve a major bilge pump problem,” said Ed Sherman.

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Why Sahara Mk2
IBEX Innovation Awards Winners 2020 Press Release 092920

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