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

We’re gearing up for a big year this year. We’ve talked a lot about how the industry is changing – and must continue to change – to effectively embrace smart technologies.

We’re keen to talk to like-minded industry stakeholders and find out what their plans are too.

The Port and Terminal Automation and Training Conference is the perfect place. Last year’s conference was a huge success and a really interesting platform for debate, and I’m very much looking forward to participating in this year’s two day event.

The marine industry is at a crucial point in its journey towards a new, more efficient and automated future. We want Trelleborg to be at the heart of it. We’re looking forward to discussing the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead with some of the biggest names in port and terminal automation and training.

To find out more about the conference, visit: – and watch this space for more news from Trelleborg on how we’re embracing smart technologies and evolving accordingly.




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

Could the announcement of a major collaboration between Maersk and Alibaba in just the first week of 2017 indicate this is going to be a year of seismic change for our industry? Let’s hope so. Shipping, like all other sectors of the global economy, is transforming. And it needs to change too.

Technology is recognized as one of the key enablers of this change and while it’s interesting to see that the first big deal of the year sees a traditional industry player team up with an e-commerce giant – surely an example of positive disruption at its best – it’s perhaps not unsurprising.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a number of alliances and collaborations, such as the emergence of the so-called Power Four, so the decision by a main shipping line to form a partnership to deploy online services seems to be the logical next step in the evolution of the ‘old’ shipping business model to a more logistics-centred approach. It’s also worth noting that while the first deal of this kind is based in Asia, where the speed of change and disruption is more rapid, it won’t be contained there. Further digitalization of the supply chain is inevitable and everything that can be automated will be automated.

Attitude is key. The traditionally conservative shipping sector needs to embrace technology and the positive change it can bring. Collaborations such as this one, may seem removed from our own day-to-day activities, but there are smaller, practical steps that can be taken now to take advantage of developments in smart technology.

Our own research shows how shipping lines value smart technologies that have a positive impact on the safe and efficient operations of ports and terminals. These so-called smart ports benefit from smart technology that connects products, collects data and provides insights to deliver real efficiency gains, such as lowering operating costs due to improved vessel throughput. It’s a first step but it’s a tangible one.


By Mishra Kumar, Technical Director for Marine Fenders at Trelleborg’s marine systems operation

Back in December, Richard posted a blog entitled ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, about the importance of understanding how materials perform and are processed in order to ensure you get what you pay for when it comes to specifying and procuring fenders.

We’ve discussed this issue a lot. We know there are players in the industry who are willing to lie and cheat tests in order to undercut reputable manufacturers. We have been working for years to stop it.

And now we’ve got some new developments to share.

A lot of our previous work has concentrated on rubber fenders: the importance of understanding how ingredients are selected, how they are manufactured and how they are tested. Although the industry is still far from perfect, largely, this work has been successful. There is a recognition of the need to specify quality and avoid making purchasing decisions based on price.

Now, we’ve moved our research on to foam fenders. Erroneously perceived to be a commodity product, they are an extremely versatile solution, often the most effective system for a number of applications.

The specification and production of foam fenders needs to be taken more seriously: they must be decommoditized and treated with the same level of importance as highly engineered, rubber fenders are beginning to be.

That’s why we are recommending a new testing method for foam, to ensure a best practice approach is taken. We’ve launched a brand new whitepaper and webinar detailing best practice design and manufacture for foam fenders, and highlighting exactly how they should be tested to guarantee performance. The new method and report are based on robust data from an in-depth research program we undertook earlier in the year.

But we’ve not stopped there. A key project for this year has been the development of an online Fender Selection Tool, which enables port consultants to determine the appropriate fender system for their project. We’ve almost completely digitized the fender selection process, while saving consultants huge amounts of time normally spent carrying out complex manual calculations.

The tool will help specifiers and suppliers take steps towards a more standardized engineering process, reducing subjectivity in the design process and shaping industry best practice and consistency.

The tool only requires the input of a few parameters and generates a document detailing every potential fender system suitable for the application and performance required.

These are just the latest steps we’ve taken in our mission to drive standards up across the industry. We will continue to work to raise awareness of the risks of inappropriate fender selection. It’s critical that specifiers understand the dangers. The consequences could be severe.

To explore the tool, visit:


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.


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

Trelleborg showcased its Seatechnik™ Universal Safety Link (USL) at the 2nd International LNG Congress (28 – 29 November), an innovative product that takes the company’s expertise in large scale applications and applies it to an optimized product for the burgeoning small-scale LNG sector.

Small-scale LNG transfer, whether ship-to-shore or offshore ship-to-ship, is in its relative infancy in terms of the development of infrastructure to meet increasing supply and demand. However, as the market has developed over the past decade, so too has new thinking around innovative means to transfer LNG. The onus has been on finding solutions that strike the balance between new means to improve operability and maintaining the highest safety standards.

The safe control and operation of small scale LNG transfers and fuelling pose special challenges, and the drive for a Ship-Shore Link (SSL) of increased functionality in an assured compatibility package is secured with the USL.

Some of the key benefits of the system include automatic shutdown through an intrinsically safe Emergency Shutdown (ESD) backup system, assured inter-compatibility throughout the small-scale and fuelling supply chain, as well as in-built system test and diagnostics.






Richard Hepworth of Trelleborg’s marine systems operation considers whether the global shipping industry is keeping up with the technological pace of change.

No-one in the shipping industry denies that automation and Big Data will have a real impact on how we do business, our own research tells us so. But there’s a noticeable disconnect between understanding the significance and opportunities of these new technologies, and actually doing something about them.

According to Trelleborg’s upcoming Preparing for the Port of the Future Report, over 90% of ports, terminals and shippers accept the importance of Big Data, but when it comes to capturing and then interpreting different types of performance data this number drops significantly.

At a time when our industry is under pressure to reduce costs and be more efficient, embracing the opportunity to work smarter should be a priority. There are many different types of data available to port and terminal operators and shipping lines, all of which can deliver real efficiency gains. For example, electronically tracking and standardizing data on pilot performance and adherence to approach routes is monitored by less than a third of operators, yet this has significant impact on areas such as fuel efficiency, missing vessel slots and cost control.

We also know from our research that shipping lines are keen to have greater insights into the speed and angle of berthing but that currently only a fifth of ports offer this. This is just one example of many (see the full Report for more), but it shows that by putting in place smart technologies that enable more sophisticated data capture, there can be benefits for all parties, from improving customer relationships to understanding and avoiding berthing delays.

The old adage of don’t run before you can walk can be applied to Big Data. An easy first step to increase efficiency is to turn existing unstructured data into something useful. Audit, digitize and normalize existing metrics and formats to standardize data. This standardization makes analysis easier to produce informed decision-making that can refine processes, optimize efficiencies, improve safety, identify maintenance and improve customer relationships. And that’s just for starters.

It’s not a case of data becoming the new business currency, it already is. Smart technologies offer an immediate opportunity for port and terminal operators and shipping lines alike, together let’s take advantage of them now.


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

The opening of the new Liverpool2 deep sea container terminal this month seems like a piece of good news for our industry, and one that might give UK shipping a boost. This £400million investment project not only doubles the container capacity now available to shipping lines at Liverpool, but for the first time opens up the north of England to mega-carriers by providing the UK’s only deep sea container terminal north of Felixstowe.

This is a good thing. Across the world, ageing port infrastructure requires investment to upgrade facilities so they can take advantage of developments such as new smart technology and improvements in material capability. Whilst Drewry reports that the industry is expected to lose $5billion this year, so investment and evolution like this is exciting to see.

It’s encouraging to see Peel Ports investing for the future. The consolidation we’ve seen over the last few years between shipping lines has seen powerful alliances emerge and there’s no doubt they are flexing their muscles and putting pressure on ports and terminals to improve the physical facilities they offer.

Alongside these sizeable alliances, another factor driving competition between ports is of course the size of the containerships themselves. Accommodating these mega-carriers creates a real and immediate need to expand infrastructure, and is now a commercial necessity if ports are to secure future contracts with shipping lines and alliances.

Liverpool2 has recognized this and risen to the challenge, opening up new opportunities for shipping in the UK. It’s positive news for our industry and let’s hope that mega-containerships are soon spotted travelling up and down the River Mersey.



Beth Christman, Captain / Director responsible for Navigation Technology for the Association of Maryland Pilots

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

The Association of Maryland Pilots serves the Chesapeake Bay, the longest pilotage route on the East Coast of the United States, with nearly 200 miles of waters. Vessels of almost 48 feet draft routinely transit the narrow channels of the bay, which themselves are only 50 feet deep.

We recently supplied the AMP with our SafePilot Portable Pilot Units (PPUs) and a Port System server solution to enable consistent, real-time information sharing between almost 70 pilots.

The scale of the waters presented a unique challenge: due to the long pilotage route, there was a requirement for piloting navigation sensors to be charged during the piloting operation. To accommodate this, we developed a special navigation sensor: the “Chesapeake Class” CAT XT.

The CAT XT combines the CAT Rate of Turn (CAT ROT) sensor with the CAT I GNSS high-accuracy positioning sensor. It is used in paired units, with one connected to the ship’s AIS pilot plug and power adaptor for continuous charging. The other is located on the bridge wing, running on a built-in battery. When the battery is flat, the pilot simply swaps the two units, allowing a continuous operation, a capability that is completely unique to Trelleborg’s CAT XT product.

The SafePilot system is a key part of our Smarter Product Portfolio, which we are developing to better support the ‘Port of the Future’. We are driving toward an offering that focuses heavily on data-driven technologies, and the real-time and strategic decision making they enable. With ports and terminals are already beginning to automate their processes on the land side, there is also a huge opportunity for optimization through automation on the jetty side too.

A seamless arrival means optimized unloading and departure, all closely intertwined with overall efficiency. This can only be achieved through the deployment of reliable sensors that provide the data key for managing approach, berthing and dispatch.

The SafePilot system server solution synchronizes data between pilots. Updates to information can be made on shore, and distributed in real time to ensure accurate decision making during the piloting operation. Recordings of all operations can be stored for future review and pilot devices backed up in the SafePilot Engine. I’m proud to say we are the only piloting technology company to offer both hardware and software, to form an integrated and efficient user experience.

With delivery completed in May 2016, the full scope of supply included 160 CAT XT (operated in pairs), 80 SafePilot piloting software licenses with Pro Navigation, Docking, River and client / server modules, 80 iPads and one SafePilot system server solution.

We carried out commissioning, installation and integration was on site, and trained each pilot individually in the use of the system, ensuring best practice use and safe maneuver within the bay.

I’ll leave you with a few words on the project from Beth Christman, Captain / Director responsible for Navigation Technology for the Association of Maryland Pilots: “We have been using PPUs since the 1990s, so we’re well versed and experienced in the requirements we have of the system. We turned to Trelleborg for the latest supply as the company was able to develop a purpose built system to meet our needs.”






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

Trelleborg’s marine systems operation will be exhibiting at “Prevention First: An Onshore and Offshore Pollution Prevention Symposium & Technology Exhibition” in Long Beach, California on the 27 and 28 September 2016.

The Prevention First exhibition is organized by the California State Lands Commission (CSLC), which sets the requirements for marine jetties throughout California.

Representatives from Trelleborg will be on hand to discuss the company’s portfolio of docking, mooring and fender system solutions, as well as our new offering for customers in North America. This comprises extended warranties on all fender systems in North America, financially backed by warranty bonds for up to five years, assuring quality and performance.

Trelleborg offers a complete range of fendering, docking and mooring solutions, as well as technical, operational and maintenance support.

With that in mind, at Prevention First we’re keen to discuss how we’re taking a smarter approach to port and terminal equipment optimization to ensure port owners, operators, contractors and consultants are able to not only meet the many challenges facing American shipping, but capitalize on the growing opportunities in the region.”

Trelleborg’s new extended warranties are dependent on the customer following the company’s best practice specification, which includes the requirement for materials and performance testing, and a schedule for inspections and maintenance through the life of the product.

To learn more about Trelleborg’s portfolio of docking, mooring and fender system solutions, visit Trelleborg’s representatives at booth 30 at the Prevention First exhibition.


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

Trelleborg’s marine systems operation will exhibit at the 58th Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA) Annual Conference in Ontario, Canada on the 6 to 9 September 2016.

Representatives from Trelleborg will be on hand to discuss how its portfolio of mission critical components such as docking, mooring and fender system solutions, as well as IALA compliant modular navigation and mooring buoys, protect port infrastructure over a long and demanding service life, and how to minimize maintenance requirements, maximize efficiencies and improve safety.

It is vital that such mission critical equipment has minimal failure rates and maintenance schedules are optimized. However, to guarantee this, this important equipment needs to be specified correctly and manufactured using the right materials.

After manufacture, they must be subjected to rigorous materials and full-scale testing. And, to ensure they consistently meet working demands and environmental conditions over their lifetime, they need to be maintained correctly and frequently.

At the ACPA Conference, we’re keen to discuss the importance of best practice at every stage of a product’s lifecycle, from manufacture, through to testing and in-life support. We’re keen to hear from stakeholders across the industry what their experiences have been and see if we can better support them.

Founded in 1958, the ACPA serves as a national organizational body for ports and marine interests, including all Canadian port authorities, government entities, and companies doing business in the marine sector.

For more information, visit Trelleborg’s representatives at booth 3 at the ACPA Conference.