Saving Lives With SOLIDWORKS: Supacat's RNLI Launch And Recovery System



The Company

Supacat is an innovative engineering design house producing and supporting high-mobility, all-terrain vehicles. Based in Devon, the company develops high performance vehicles for defence purposes, as well as other specialist vehicles and equipment for extreme environments.

The Challenge

To design and  build from a clean sheet, an all-weather Launch & Recovery System for the RNLI that could carry their new 18-tonne Shannon-class lifeboats to the water’s edge and launch within minutes. The vehicle needed to be able to traverse across gravel and shingle beaches and withstand the onslaught of heavy waves and being fully submersed. 

The Solution

Supacat’s design team were able to start the pre-production vehicle from scratch modelling in SOLIDWORKS and used the software for producing all the components of the Launch & Recovery System.

The Results

The new RNLI Launch and Recovery System is now operational at four UK beaches (Dungeness, Exmouth, Hoylake and Ilfracombe), with St Ives due to receive their L&RS in November 2015. The system’s rear cradle can be rotated 360 degrees and allows a boat to be picked up from a beached position bow first and turned around ready for re-launch bow first within five minutes. The RNLI estimates the advanced manoeuvrability of the new Shannon-class lifeboat and the Launch & Recovery System means more than 56,000 people will be rescued in its lifetime and more than 1,500 lives saved.


A customer of NT CADCAM’s since 2004, Nick Baker says it’s important to have an open relationship with their SOLIDWORKS supplier, ‘We need our CAD reseller to be open, honest and to be responsive when we need answers, and NT CADCAM stands up to the mark.” 

“SOLIDWORKS gives us the advantage of being able to flag up any design issues or clashes before manufacture, reduce scrappage and ultimately get the design right first time.”

Nick Baker

Head of Engineering, Supacat