Understanding how materials perform and are processed will help make sure you really are getting what you pay for, says Richard Hepworth of Trelleborg.
Ports need to have confidence that equipment will perform as expected to fully protect terminals and berthing vessels and keep the port running safely and efficiently.
Fenders are an essential part of this port infrastructure and as such their ability to perform reliably day-in, day-out is also essential. But not all fenders are made equal, and even those that appear to be made out of the same material, such as rubber, differ significantly in terms of performance. This is down to a number of factors and familiarisation with these could mean the difference between a good investment and a bad one.
How fenders are built and then chemically processed determines the product’s final properties which in turn determines fender performance (read more about building and curing in fender performance here). However, as the economy has become increasingly global, it has become more difficult to be fully confident in the performance and provenance of some products. There have been instances of falsified testing information which means that it isn’t always a case of what you see is what you get. Caveat emptor definitely applies.
The good news is that Trelleborg is working to highlight these issues and, as a supplier of high quality fenders, to raise global standards in testing and performance. We are currently undertaking a large-scale study into the impact of chemical processes on rubber fender performance – more information to follow soon!
In the meantime, being aware of quality issues and questioning suppliers to improve specification will help ensure you’re getting the right fender for the job, and more importantly one that will perform over the long-term as expected. It’s about minimizing risk, protecting investment and improving performance.
Remember if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So get familiar with fender production, ask suppliers difficult questions and give yourself peace of mind.