Tugboat Noise Control Innovator Ken Harford Retires

Ken Harford and Doug Kennedy at Harford's retirement party, April 29, 2016.

Tugboat Noise Control Innovator Ken Harford Retires

After a long, distinguished career in both acoustical and marine engineering, Ken Harford, P.Eng., has announced that he will retire at the end of May. He is currently the Managing Director at Robert Allan Ltd., Vancouver’s largest naval architecture firm. Congratulations, Ken, on all your accomplishments during your career.

Harford started his career in the early 1970s as a consulting acoustical engineer, entering a partnership with Dr. Tom Siddon. When Doug Kennedy acquired Dr. Siddon’s interest in that company in 1974, the business became Harford Kennedy Ltd. In 1988, Harford Kennedy merged with Barron Associates to become BKL.

Innovations in Shipboard Noise Control

Largely through Harford and Kennedy’s efforts, Harford Kennedy Ltd. established a strong association with local designers, builders and operators of tugboats. Harford lead a detailed study of noise levels aboard local tugboats that resulted in new noise control regulations in the industry. Later, Harford Kennedy Ltd. worked for the Canadian Coast Guard and Department of Fisheries, assessing existing vessels and developing shipboard noise control standards for new government vessels.

Other Acoustical Achievements

In 1975, Harford and Kennedy joined forces with Steve Hui and began manufacturing specialized acoustical instrumentation, founding Mechtronics Research Corporation as an offshoot of their acoustical engineering business. Products included one the earliest available equivalent sound level (Leq) meters and automobile noise testing equipment that was installed in motor vehicle inspection stations operated by the BC Motor Vehicle Branch.

Another innovation spearheaded by Ken in the 1970s was establishing Industrial Audiometric Services (IAS), the first mobile audiometric testing service in BC. As Harford Kennedy turned its focus to an ever-expanding market for acoustical consulting services, IAS was discontinued after many years of providing industrial hearing tests throughout the province. By that time, a number of new firms had entered the mobile hearing testing market and continue to provide this important service today.

As Mechtronics continued to grow, Harford and Hui applied their engineering talents to manufacturing steering control systems for Z-drives on tugs and in 1981, they established the Industrial Marine Power Engineering Group (IMPEG) and distributed Niigata Z-Peller drives using Mechtronics controls.

Career with Robert Allan Ltd.

In 1986, Harford sold his interests in Harford Kennedy, Mechtronics and IMPEG, and joined Simpson Power Products Ltd. as a consultant. He then joined Robert Allan Ltd. in 1988 as the senior project overseer for new construction, and gradually assumed the role of VP of Engineering, directing all aspects of the mechanical and marine engineering work within the company.

BKL developed an ongoing working relationship with Robert Allan Ltd. providing consulting services for more than a dozen vessel designs ranging from shipboard noise control design to noise surveys during commissioning and vibration assessment. Harford leaves Robert Allan Ltd. after 28 years and heads into retirement with plans to build docks, ramps and floats for his Quarry Bay neighbours as well as a new home for himself and his wife.

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