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FENDER MAINTENANCE LACKING, LEADING TO DISPROPORTIONATE FAILURE RATES

By Richard Hepworth, President of Trelleborg’s marine systems operation

Our fifth annual Barometer Report, which discusses the issues impacting ports and terminals around the globe, has revealed that over 60% of the port owners, operators, consultants and contractors surveyed have experienced unscheduled downtime due to fender damage. This is a huge increase compared to the last report in 2014, when only 20% cited it as a contributing factor.

At the same time, 25% of those surveyed expect fender systems to have a life expectancy of at least ten years. This is a reasonable expectation, but not when taking in to consideration that respondents are not placing enough importance on regular inspections and maintenance. This is because only 36% carry out maintenance annually, while over 60% of those surveyed said that they, or their clients only carried out inspections and maintenance every two to ten years, far below the recommended frequency of every 12 months.

It’s clear there’s still work to be done to ensure fender maintenance is given the importance it deserves. However, this is only half the story – before maintenance becomes an issue, fenders must be manufactured correctly, using the best design and the right materials and go through stringent testing to make absolutely sure these mission critical components protect port infrastructure over a long and demanding service life, minimizing maintenance requirements.

Fender systems can have very low failure rates and minimal inspection requirements. However, to do so they need to be specified correctly and manufactured using the right materials. For example, the modulus of the rubber compound – the relationship between stress and strain in a cured rubber sample – is one of the determining factor of a fender’s performance, and highly impacted by the dispersion of carbon black filler in the rubber. The level of dispersion, in turn, is dependent on the mixing process, the quality of which is determined by the machinery used in the production of the rubber compound.

After manufacture, fenders must be subjected to rigorous materials and full-scale testing. To ensure they consistently meet working demands and environmental conditions over their lifetime, they need to be maintained correctly. Given the lack of regular inspections and maintenance, it’s unsurprising that 50% of port owners are saying they have had to upgrade their fender systems within the last ten years.

To download the Barometer Report 5, visit: http://ow.ly/VmYR3

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