Thursday, March 22, 2012

Container Ships to Freighters and Tankers - All Need to Berth

New Technology Can Cut Insurance Claims
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Berthing a vessel, be it a multi TEU container ship or a coastal freighter can be a hazardous, and if done incorrectly, expensive business. Now Trelleborg Marine Systems, manufacturer of docking, mooring and berthing equipment, has received patent pending status on a system for monitoring the load on marine fenders. The new system is designed to help avoid disputes and the costly downtime associated with insurance claims.

The marine fender load monitoring system can be used to measure both the impact on fenders when a vessel berths, and the ongoing force applied as the vessel continues to bear against them whilst docked. Trelleborg Marine System’s Technical Director, Scott Smith, says:

“We’re always looking to develop new products, and indeed, find new innovations that will enhance our existing product line. We’re extremely pleased to receive the patent pending status for our marine fender load monitoring system.

“The data collected by this system could prove to be invaluable to ports and harbours all over the world in avoiding disputes and the costly downtime associated with insurance claims. One key advantage of the system is that it can be adapted to suit the needs of the environment it is located in – we understand the market need for bespoke solutions in improving efficiencies and minimizing downtime and we have developed this system in response to that requirement.”

Data can be processed, communicated and transmitted through either wire (for example, copper wire or optical fibre) or wireless means, whichever is more suitable for the environment that the device is to be located in. Additionally, the data collection device itself may be located either directly within the fender, on the structure (jetty), or at a remote location, depending on the needs of the customer. If more than one fender is providing load sensing data, this can be transmitted to a central data collection and processing system. The system is also apt to be retrofitted into existing fenders.

Once the central system receives and processes the data, it is configured to automatically transmit real time data. Alternatively, data can be stored on a dedicated memory, and periodic transmissions made to the central system. This central system can also be configured to receive other relevant data which may affect the load sensor data, for example, environmental or visibility information. There are a number of existing products that can be used to compliment the marine fender load monitoring system and gather this additional data, such as the SmartDock Laser system and the SmartDock GPS system.

When analysed, the data obtained has the potential to be used in a number of ways: such as developing a deeper understanding of berthing dynamics, which in turn could assist with future fender and wharf design, and further, feed into the revision of safe and acceptable berthing operations and procedures.

Additionally, load data may be used to determine when maintenance is needed, or indeed, a replacement fender is required. In the event of an accident, or a fender failing, the data can be used to provide information as to why – providing valuable data for insurance claims, and helping ports and shipping lines to avoid the costly downtime associated with disputes.

Testing of the system was conducted using a sample SCN800 cone fender element. A hydraulic ram press was used to subject the cone fender element and mounting assembly to forces of up to 80 tonne. The test demonstrated that the data derived from the load cell measurements very closely matched the data from the actual ram pressure.