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Category Archives: Opinions


We have recently launched a new survey which aims to assess the digital maturity of global ports. The Terminal Automation Audit is intended to determine how ‘future ready’ international facilities are, by examining how advanced the use of ‘smart’ technology and data is across the industry.

The results of the survey will set the benchmark for a new industry assessment tool and feed into a report on the state of play in the industry now, with predictions for the future.

The Terminal Automation Audit takes the form of two surveys: one for terminal and port stakeholders, and a second for ship owners, builders and shipping lines.

From terminal and port owners and operators, we want to understand the current uptake of automated technologies, ongoing optimization, data use and future planning.

From shipping stakeholders, we’re keen to learn how much importance is placed on digital technologies at marine facilities, and how much automation plays a role on board.

To have your say and set the industry benchmark, click here for vessels, or here for terminals.



1. Evaluate supplier solutions based on whole life costs

You need to ensure you’re getting the best value over the full lifecycle of your products.  Buy cheap, buy twice, as they say.

2. Put emphasis on engineering capability

Evaluate the track record of your supplier closely. With ports and terminals becoming increasingly complex to accommodate the demands of modern vessels, it’s essential your supplier can demonstrate engineering experience and expertise that aligns with the needs of your project.

3. Consult shortlisted suppliers early in the project development

The earlier you consult suppliers, the more tailored your solution can be. Consult your suppliers at the conceptual design stage to ensure you get the bespoke package that really fits your requirements and guarantees optimum performance.

4. Insist on dealing with technical engineers as well as sales / bus dev personnel

If you don’t feel completely assured of your supplier’s technical expertise, determine their credentials by asking to deal with technical engineers. Your point of contact in the sales or business development team should be able to facilitate a discussion or find you the answers you need.

5. Inspect the suppliers facilities in person

If your supplier can’t give you access to their manufacturing facilities, alarm bells should be ringing.  Furthermore, you’re entitled to witness the testing procedures your products undergo. Get the reassurance you need to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

6. Ask to witness testing

Your supplier should be able to offer you the opportunity to witness materials or full scale testing: ask for it.  Don’t let your supplier get off easy by just handing you the paperwork.

7. Explore suppliers’ track record

A robust track record should give you some confidence, but make sure your supplier has experience in your application.  A full track record should come as standard: expect it.

8. Demand samples and check certification of materials and processes

When specifying fenders, ask for a sample of the rubber compound that will be used in your project. Three key factors – velocity factor, temperature factor and longevity are affected by rubber grade and compound formulation. The properties of fenders vary dramatically depending on their composition, as such; rubber compound composition should be built into specifications in order to guarantee performance and lifecycle.

9. Get the training you and your people need

Your relationship with your supplier shouldn’t end at installation.  Demand maintenance and operational training to ensure you optimise performance in the field.

10. Ask about aftersales service

Full after sales support should be considered as part of your supplier’s offer. Not only should they be able to supply product training, spare parts and servicing should be available to you on demand, no matter where you are in the world.



The results of our latest Barometer Report show that unscheduled downtime is on the rise. In comparison to last year’s report, which revealed that just under 80% of respondents were struggling to get to grips with the issue, this year’s Barometer reveals that, alarmingly, over 90% are now suffering.

The majority of respondents in this year’s report estimated that unscheduled downtime costs their facility at least £100,000 per year. We suspect that this sum may be just the tip of the iceberg – the relationship between unscheduled downtime and revenue extends further than just the direct costs of the terminal or berth not being in operation.  The less tangible cost to ports in damaged relationships with shipping lines and other stakeholders should not be underestimated.

The fact that traffic flows and vessel sizes coming through ports are steadily increasing makes it essential that ports look to update their infrastructure in order to keep pace with change. However, many may be struggling to upgrade their facilities quickly enough, which can exacerbate the issue of unscheduled downtime. Inadequate infrastructure means more incidents, more downtime and lost revenue.

This begs the question: why are so many failing to address the issue? I’d like to get your thoughts in the Comments Section.

The full results of Trelleborg’s latest Barometer Report, which details a wide range of findings from the industry survey, is available now as a free download from:


The results of our latest Barometer Report show that many of the port owners, operators and contractors surveyed may be jeopardising operations by ‘making do’ rather than proactively upgrading facilities to maximise efficiencies and improve safety.

Although the vast majority of respondents believed that port safety would benefit from the use of new technologies (mooring line tension monitoring, environmental monitoring and speed of approach monitoring), it’s clear few are actually reaping the rewards, with over half of those surveyed admitting to only using human or manual guidance.

Automated solutions offer a chance to improve safety and boost operational efficiencies – a significant opportunity for ports to proactively upgrade infrastructure and ensure they stay ahead of the curve.

However, with so many only using human or manual guidance during berthing – rather than making use of Docking Aid Systems (DAS) or Global Positioning Systems (GPS), many may be putting their facilities at risk of becoming antiquated. This begs the question: why are so many jeopardising their operations by ‘making do’ rather than maximising efficiencies and improving safety?

The full results of Trelleborg’s latest Barometer Report, which details a wide range of findings from the industry survey, is available now as a free download from:


By Simon Wilson, Managing Director of Docking and Mooring, Trelleborg Marine Systems

Back In February, Richard blogged about the safety results from our 2011 Barometer Report, which showed that 81% of those surveyed believe that having a safer port environment directly contributes to reducing costs.

Safety should, of course, be a priority in all ports and harbours, but with ongoing budget restrictions in place due to the current economic climate, ports need to look for ways to improve safety and operational efficiencies while keeping costs down.

Fortunately, challenge tends to breed innovation and using established systems in new ways can counteract declining budgets. The effectiveness and efficiency of existing technologies can be optimised to reduce not only costs, but safety risks to vessel and jetty crew too.

Upgrading existing technologies with more intuitive products can improve ‘on berth’ efficiency in terms of cost, manning and, subsequently safety. For example, upgrading Quick Release Hooks to include a remote release function, removes personnel from around the mooring line at the time of release.

The larger vessel sizes coming into the market are also pushing ports to revisit their approaches to berthing and to optimise mooring operations.  Improvements to established docking and mooring equipment can produce cost efficient ways to accommodate these new vessel sizes, which are often in excess of the berth’s design, without having to make radical changes to the port’s overall infrastructure.

In addition to the importance of crew safety, it’s also about asset protection for ports. For example, using fixed or portable laser docking systems to monitor the speed of approach can allow the vessel crew to amend their speed accordingly. Thereby, counteracting the increased momentum produced by the size of the vessel and protecting the jetty from forces that are potentially too high to safely accommodate.

As suggested by the data in the Barometer Report, a safer port environment means fewer incidents, less downtime and ultimately, less avoidable expenditure. By utilising all the technologies and options available, it’s possible to maximise operational efficiencies without compromising safety. It’s important to consider creating bespoke and unique systems that complement existing capabilities in order to minimise spend, rather than replace whole systems.


By Richard Hepworth, Managing Director, Trelleborg Marine Systems.

It’s essential that port owners and operators can have confidence in the products they procure, and the reassurance that they have been through thorough and robust testing procedures.

As evidence of this 90% of respondents in our Barometer Report believe that both lab and full scale testing is important in the manufacture of docking and mooring products.

However, I remain concerned that the industry might just be paying lip service to the importance of testing, as, despite these encouraging results, it appears that good intentions are not necessarily translating into best practice.

How so? Well, a quarter of respondents also admit to being concerned only with price rather than where a product comes from.

As PIANC documentation for is not regulated, it’s important to check all paperwork carefully and ask suppliers for clarification over PIANC type approvals. Situations have occurred where compliance has been claimed for all of a supplier’s factories, processes and products when only one location or component of a product range meets the criteria. Don’t risk throwing good money after bad by procuring solely on the basis of price – make sure you’re getting the best possible product over its service life.

Short-cutting on quality and maintenance is a risky game to play.


By Richard Hepworth, Managing Director, Trelleborg Marine Systems.

The end of February saw the first global sales conference we’ve had in a while – and it was great to get everyone together to meet each other, swap ideas, discuss their experiences, and have a bit of fun along the way too.

In an industry such as ours, when big purchasing decisions are being made, and in a company such as Trelleborg – where you’re dealing with customers from every corner of the globe, it’s important and a particularly productive use of time to get everyone together when possible.

We heard from our regional directors, who gave us some very interesting insights into their respective parts of the world – it’s remarkable how much the market changes from country to country, and I’m proud to have a sales team that truly understands and is able to fully support the specific needs of the regions they work within.

After an overview of 2011, we looked forward to what we’ve got in store for 2012. A key focus is to continue to enhance the areas that I think set Trelleborg apart – our in-house manufacturing and testing capabilities, which we pride ourselves on and believe to be important contributors to our success so far.

My counterpart from our Docking and Mooring division, Simon Wilson also discussed his products, projects and the markets his team is working within, and it was great to gain a deeper understanding of that side of the business and reflect on how we can work cross functionally to deliver bespoke, full service solutions to our customers.

Managing a global company, particularly one that supplies products of this type – important, mission critical equipment – is a substantial responsibility, and it’s vital that we have the right tools in place to support us, so it was great to hear about the capabilities of our new CRM, and a number of other internal tools being developed that will strengthen our business and processes in 2012.

We’re constantly looking into new systems to refine and enhance our design and engineering process, and we’ve got some exciting developments in the pipeline to help us better support our customers and make sure that Trelleborg Marine Systems continues to evolve and lead the market.

Finally, thank you to everyone that attended the conference – it was great to see you all and catch up on your projects – here’s to a 2012 that surpasses even our expectations!


By Simon Wilson, Trelleborg Marine System’s managing director, docking and mooring

Check out our first and second instalments in a series of seven short videos, covering vessel mooring operations from our docking and mooring divisions.

With the latest LNG export terminals requiring modern mooring and monitoring equipment to ensure safe operations, the correct specification of these systems are an essential part of the overall design of marine facilities. The first and second instalments are now live on our YouTube channel.

In the first animation, we introduce the components of a typical system and examine how design can improve safety and reliability in mooring operations. The second instalment covers our field proven Smartdock Docking Aid System and how it assists successful vessel berthing.

Keep an eye out for the next five videos in the series, which will be coming to our YouTube channel over the coming weeks.


By Scott Smith, Regional Director (Asia Pacific), Trelleborg Marine Systems

Indian Centre of Excellence

Trelleborg Marine Systems' newly expanded Indian Centre of Excellence

India West – an online portal for the global Indian community – this week reported that the country’s population still dominates science and engineering with Indian-born US migrants making up the vast majority of graduates in these specialisms (43.1%).

Asia has long been held up for its engineering excellence – with China coming in a close second – so it’s no surprise that global enterprises committed to keeping at the forefront of technical excellence have invested in a strong presence in the region.

Trelleborg has benefitted from a dedicated design and engineering centre in India since 2009 – a resource that is heavily relied upon by the Marine Systems division and other product areas within the Trelleborg Engineered Systems group. Indeed, the centre has become so crucial to our competitive standing as a complete ‘cradle to grave’ supplier that we’ve recently moved to new premises to centralise and expand our unique engineering and design set-up.

While we boast some level of in-house expertise at our regional offices, the more detailed engineering design, modelling and analysis aspects are now sent to the new Indian Centre of Excellence in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, for further progression. Here the business is split into two areas.  The first is engineering and design support for Trelleborg’s worldwide offices – covering Australia, Singapore, China, Japan, India, Dubai, the USA and Europe – and the second focuses on regional sales into India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

We have very high expectations for the performance of the improved engineering and design centre as a market leading offering – not least because, while our competitors choose to outsource their engineering and manufacturing requirements and thereby relinquish some degree of control, having our capabilities centralised in this way means we can maintain watertight quality right through the supply chain. Moreover, it enables us to drive cost efficiencies, improve collaboration and encourage cross fertilisation of ideas across our global offices.

If you’re a port owner, contractor or consultant interested in seeing this unique facility for yourself we’d be happy to give you the guided tour – leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.


By Richard Hepworth, Managing Director, Trelleborg Marine Systems

Salerno Contract Win

The panels for Salerno being prepared. The white marks are a quality control check for the thickness of the paint.

Customers quite rightly demand the ability to meet demanding specifications and tight delivery timescales. Indeed, it’s our capabilities to accommodate stringent design parameters and time pressures that enable me to proudly announce our new contract to supply Super Cone Fenders and Tee Head bollards to Salerno Port, Italy.

Working with RCM Costruzioni, our technical know-how was called upon to overcome restricted space for the cone fender due to a limited high capping beam. What’s more, we also needed to prove that we have the internal processes in place to deliver to exceptionally short lead times with 34 sets of SCN1300 Super Cone Fender Systems and 24 sets of Tee Head bollards 100t required by November. No mean feat!

Fresh from the findings of our latest Barometer report, which brought to the fore that the robust testing of rubber and steel is not routinely performed by all suppliers, I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that all fenders supplied by Trelleborg are fully compliant with PIANC Guidelines and have undergone both laboratory and full scale product testing. Given our industry reputation I’d hope that goes without saying and certainly for our client contact at RCM Construzioni, Mr. Elio Rainone, this played an important part in his decision to specify Trelleborg Marine Systems.

On that note I leave you with some kind words supplied by Mr. Rainone himself and look forward to sharing more company news with you soon…

“Due to Trelleborg’s strong reputation and technical qualification, they are already a preferred supplier for both the port authorities and us, the contractor.

“The solution provided by Trelleborg Marine Systems met the requirements of both parties: the port authorities wanted a reliable solution, with a long life cycle.  For us, an important factor was the necessity of an accessible dedicated project management team, and the assurance of high quality aftercare.”