Protecting the seas and oceans 05 May 2023

Here Jackie Hackett, director of global sales and marketing at APM Hexseal, explains how sealing boots can help seal marine equipment and protect sensitive internal electronics – helping to mitigate the risk of hazardous compounds leaking and spreading into the seas and oceans around the world.

Exposure to environmental substances, such as water, chemicals, dirt, and salt, can cause significant damage to electronic equipment and systems. Depending on the system and the contaminant, contact can trigger system outages or lead to complete system failure. Either of these conditions leads to unplanned downtime, increased equipment costs and loss of profits. 

For many industrial electronic control systems, especially those employed in marine environments, sealing boots provide a solution to these issues and still allow the switch to function and actuate as intended. Properly protecting these vulnerable electronic and mechanical systems, ensuring their continued operation, is crucial to the safe navigation of the world’s waterways.

Sealing boots are devices that protect the internal and external components of an electronic system. They are used in a variety of marine applications, including military destroyers, commercial fishing boats and deep-sea submarines. In these extreme environments, sealing boots maintain the integrity of sensitive electronic components by sealing stuff out and protect vulnerable ecosystems by sealing stuff in.

Seal stuff out of sensitive marine electronics

Today’s marine vessels use high-tech electronic systems to plot their course; control operating equipment in various parts of the vessel; monitor and protect against external conditions such as weather and rough seas; and keep internal environments safe and comfortable for crew members and cargo. To maintain optimal performance in these systems, marine vessel and equipment manufacturers employ sealing boots to provide corrosion protection, prevent contamination, avoid overloads and short circuiting, extend equipment service life, as well as ensure long-term system security. 

APM Hexseal manufactures a variety of different types of boots designed to protect various electronic components in marine systems, while still allowing the switch to actuate freely. This sealing boot offering includes circuit breaker boots, toggle boots, as well as pushbutton boots. Circuit breaker boots are available in ‘back of panel’ or ‘front of panel’ mounting styles. On both models, a continuous sealing rib wraps around the lower portion of the flange to provide a long-lasting seal. These boots are suitable for protecting electronic components from short circuiting and extending their service lives.

Also available from APM, toggle boots consist of moulded silicone placed over threaded mounting nuts. This design enables fully enclosed, single piece components that cover the switch to be produced. Available in full and half styles, APM Hexseal’s toggle boots include a sealing rib that keeps components securely attached to their mounting panels. These boots frequently find application protecting all types of toggle switches on fishing equipment and boat control panels. 

Initially developed for military purposes, pushbutton boots are designed to provide push button switch protection against extreme environments, such as low or high temperatures, inclement weather, salt, dust, dirt, humidity, etc. Push button boots from APM meet MIL-DTL-5423 specifications. When used, these devices seal electronic switches and safeguard them from potentially harmful external elements that contribute to corrosion and other damages.

Applications for sealing boots

Across industry, sensitive electronic equipment requires protection against a variety of environmental factors to ensure continued operation and consistent performance. Within the marine industry, sealing boots find use in a broad range of applications including commercial and recreational boats, investigation and exploration, weather and marine, as well as military.

For more than 70 years, APM Hexseal has provided military grade sealing solutions. During World War II, APM designed and manufactured sealing fasteners to keep electrical military equipment free of environmental contaminants such as dirt, dust, water, grease and salt that could compromise operations. Designed from durable silicone material, APM sealing boots serve as a reliable and economical shield in the most hostile environments.

Like military vessels, commercial and recreational boats rely on sensitive onboard equipment. These systems similarly require protection from environmental substances, such as moisture, salt or dust – to prevent contamination and ensure their continued operation.

Seal stuff in to protect delicate ecosystems

In addition to sealing environmental substances out to protect sensitive internal electronics, sealing solutions also seal hazardous compounds in to protect vulnerable ecosystems. From deep sea locations to inland waterways, the waters and surrounding lands used for marine activities are at risk of contamination from leaking marine and undersea vessels. Depending on the compounds or pollutants contained within, when these vessels leak, the impact on the local ecosystem can be catastrophic. 

Taking preventative measures

As a whole, oil spills are one of the biggest contributors to water pollution. Although big oil spills do have significant and lasting effects on the environment, collectively, smaller oil spills – such as from refueling or bilge discharging operations – can have a greater environmental impact.

Taking preventative measures, such as installing sealing boots and other sealing solutions, helps reduce the impact of marine operations on delicate ecosystems. By sealing marine equipment, manufacturers and end users not only protect sensitive internal electronics, they also mitigate the risk of hazardous compounds leaking and spreading into the world’s waters. Implementing regular and thorough inspections of equipment and systems could prevent a potentially hazardous leak or malfunction. Sealing boots and fasteners from APM are reusable, making them a smart economic choice for items requiring frequent access or maintenance.

APM Hexseal designs and manufactures a wide range of sealing solutions to suit the unique needs of clients including circuit breaker boots, Seelbolts®, Seelnuts®, Seelskrews®, Seeloc® washers, as well as toggle, pushbutton and rocker boots. 

Will Lowry Content Director t: +44 (0) 1727 743 888

Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector – interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe. Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the brand is renowned.