Scott Smith, Regional Director – Asia Pacific, Trelleborg Marine Systems.
I recently learnt of the death of a former colleague and one of the pioneers of our industry, Graeme Russell, and did not want to let this pass without acknowledging his huge contribution to the rubber industry and to the marine fender industry specifically.
Graeme was the inventor of the Cone fender, an innovation that revolutionised the industry over 30 years ago. Before the Cone fender, the Cell fender represented the industry standard and Graeme’s patent signified a leap in performance, with the Cone fender having a much higher efficiency than its predecessors and exhibiting a high energy absorption to reaction force ratio.
In fact, the biggest ever contract for fender systems, which we won back in 2012 included 557 Super Cone fenders. This order was placed for the New Port Project in Doha – a state of the art port that needed a state of the art solution, which would not have been possible without Graeme’s innovation.
I worked with Graeme at Queensland Rubber Company and subsequently at Fentek, which was established following a manufacturing and research and development agreement with Hercules, and saw Graeme’s commitment to both companies first hand as they grew, until his eventual retirement in 2001.
Trelleborg acquired Fentek, a company owned by Graeme amongst others, back in 2001. As well as the Cone fender, what made Fentek such an attractive prospect for Trelleborg was the company’s constant drive for quality. Graeme, who had a PhD in Chemical Engineering, was continually looking for ways to improve elastomeric compounds, and applied his expertise to enable innovative design in rubber and composite components, used for many engineering purposes beyond fender systems.
Of course, the optimisation and application of rubber compounds remains at the heart of what we at Trelleborg do today. Much of our work still focuses on how we can produce solutions that will better perform, reduce costs and improve safety through the understanding and evolution of rubber compound composition.