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Tag Archives: rubber quality


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.



Following the great response to our “Meet the Experts” series, which we launched earlier in the year, we’re pleased to announce that the series is back, providing further insight into some of the key aspects of our comprehensive end-to-end offering.

Check out the latest installment in the series courtesy of our Technology Development Manager, Mishra Kumar, as he highlights a number of Trelleborg’s rigorous testing procedures, including quality control testing of raw materials, rubber compound testing and full scale fender testing.

Alternatively, visit the TrelleborgMarine YouTube channel now to view any of the episodes in the “Meet the Experts” series.


The issue of rubber quality in fender systems is one that the market cannot continue to be complacent about.

A best writing paper typical fender system is constructed from both steel and rubber, and whilst the steel component will, rightly, undergo extensive testing to meet stringent standards, the importance of the fender’s rubber element is often overlooked.

In recent years, there has been a significant evolution in rubber manufacturing industries: we’ve seen the emergence of contract mixers, locations such as China and India becoming mainstream hubs, and the availability of a wider range of ingredients for rubber compounding.

These changes represent a break from tradition, and best practice in rubber compounding needs to keep pace.  The market must take the necessary steps to educate itself on this evolution and understand the effects these changes have on the performance and lifecycle of fenders.

We’ve recently launched a new whitepaper which delves into the issues of Velocity Factor (VF) and Temperature Factor (TF).  First introduced in PIANC’s “Guidelines for the design of fender systems, 2002” they should be applied to rubber fenders at the testing stage, to accurately ascertain performance in the field under varying compression times and temperatures.

Changing rubber compound ingredients have a direct effect on the characteristics of the fender and as such, VF and TF are greatly affected by the type of rubber used, be it natural or synthetic – and within that, virgin or recycled – and further still by the compound composition of the rubber.

VF and TF must be calculated and reported on a case by case basis.  Each is dependent on the make-up of the rubber compound, and as such, there is no “standard” factor that can be applied to calculate and report performance under varying velocities and temperatures. The degree of VF and TF applied will change depending on the rubber compound and, subsequently, from manufacturer to manufacturer.

PIANC’s recommendations for applying VF and TF are really only the beginning.  Suppliers need to make the appropriate investments in R&D to be able to underpin and substantiate their claims. Anecdotally, we’ve found that many actually copy factors which are not relevant to their products.

If suppliers aren’t able or willing to take the necessary steps to understand and be able to guarantee the quality of their products, then it’s essential that specifiers can to avoid throwing good money after bad on systems that are not fit for purpose.

To learn more, download the whitepaper. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section or via our LinkedIn group.


Jean-Francois Garcia, General Manager – Sales France / Africa at Trelleborg Marine Systems

Towards the end of March, I attended the 11th Intermodal Africa North 2013 in Dakar, Senegal. Intermodal Africa North 2013 is the largest annual Containerised Ports, Shipping Transport Logistics Exhibition and Conference on the African continent and so provided an ideal platform for us to share our comprehensive range of equipment, ideas and best practice with those in attendance.

After investing heavily in strengthening our global reach with the addition of a local ‘feet on the ground’ presence in the region towards the end of last year, it was essential we made the most of what is undoubtedly one of the largest events of its kind within the EMEA Corridor.

At Intermodal Africa North 2013 we took the opportunity to exhibit a number of our industry leading products including our new easy slide in, slide out solution for PE Pad replacement which promises to not only reduce maintenance downtime from days to just hours, but also lowers the total cost of ownership.

I also took to the stage to discuss the significance of applying the right technology to successfully reduce operational costs, including the importance of specifying high quality rubber fenders to ensure longer lifetime and the significance of fender maintenance.

Last year, having developed new analytical and chemical tests to investigate the difference between high quality and low cost fenders, we found some rather damning differences between two fenders which claimed to be designed to the same specification. Ultimately, decision makers need to open their eyes to the varying quality on offer when buying on the basis of short term cost savings and realise that they’re not only causing unprecedented levels of downtime, but also putting ports at risk.


Our rubber testing whitepaper “Fenders: why it’s not so black and white” highlights some interesting results from the comparison of the compositions of low cost and high quality fenders – results that clearly highlight dramatically different performance characteristics between the two.

The low cost fenders contained larger amounts of recycled rubber and filler, and were found to be heavier and denser than those that used virgin rubber.

Further chemical and physical analysis revealed some further important results, including:

  • Tensile strength and the value of elongation at break were found to be lower in the low cost fender than in the high quality fender, which was made with higher quantities of virgin rubber.

    Crucially, the low cost fender was not in compliance with the specification.

  • Rubber to filler ratio for the high quality fender was 1.23, for the low cost fender, just 0.88.
  • Overall, the low cost fender contained 28.45% less rubber than the high quality product, explaining the difference in the physical properties of the two and justifying the higher purchase price of the high quality fender.

It’s essential that decision makers are aware of the key performance differences and varying quality being sold as one and the same thing, when they procure fenders based on up front price alone.

These tests provide a reliable analytical method that can be made available to buyers so that they can assess the composition of recently procured fenders prior to delivery, simply by taking a small sample from the surface of the fender.

For more information, download the full rubber testing white paper here.


As discussed in my last blog, there’s a trend across the industry of procuring mission critical fenders on the basis of upfront outlay – rather than the cost over the fender’s entire lifecycle.

Industry body, PIANC, set out the leading design guidelines for fender systems in 2002, but I remain concerned that these aren’t working in practice.  PIANC have neither the authority nor mandate to enforce these regulations, and this is allowing some of the more unscrupulous suppliers to use higher percentages of recycled rubber, to supply fenders at a cheaper upfront cost – without transparency around the composition of the fender.

PIANC’s guidelines state that robust material testing is a necessity, but laboratory and full scale testing is not routinely performed by all suppliers as part of their quality assurance process.  This is a serious concern, as specifiers need assurance that both sets of testing have been conducted on mission critical equipment.

We’ve developed new analytical tests to help stakeholders across the industry determine the quality and performance characteristics of the fenders they procure, so that buyers can understand and substantiate the makeup of their fenders and subsequently, the performance characteristics they can expect.

We conducted a series of physical and chemical tests on one high quality and a low cost fender – to really understand how much performance between the two differs.  To learn more about the tests and see the results, download the rubber testing whitepaper here.


Mission critical equipment such as fender systems need to be bespoke, fit for purpose and considered, from the design stage, on the merits of the specific project.

Designing a fender system requires engineers to determine the berthing energy of a vessel, or range of vessels, that are likely to be docked against the system, then determine the necessary capacity of the fender system to absorb that energy.  Finally, engineers need to find ways to avoid creating too much force both when a ship comes to berth and whilst it continues to bear against the system, to avoid damage to both the port infrastructure and the vessel.

Commercially, high quality fendering systems can add value to port operations by minimising maintenance requirements and reducing the risk of incidents. Custom made, high quality fenders also offer a longer service life and, reduced maintenance requirements ensure fewer “lost” days for ports and subsequently, minimise lost revenue.

In addition to these commercial concerns, and most importantly, fenders provide the first line of defence for ports and play a key role in protecting the safety of port personnel, vessel crew, cargo and infrastructure.

We’ve frequently discussed the worrying trend within the industry of specifiers procuring this mission critical equipment on the basis of upfront cost and subsequently, only short term cost savings – without taking into account the fact that over the fenders lifecycle, costs will be higher.

Some suppliers have been able to take advantage of this trend by supplying lower cost, but lower quality fenders.  These fenders have been found to contain a higher percentage of recycled rubber, as opposed to virgin rubber, and replace carbon black filler with non-reinforcing white filler.

We decided to put our money where our mouth is on this issue and conduct some independent testing, comparing the physical and chemical properties of a high quality and low cost fender.

Our rubber testing whitepaper discusses this trend in more depth and reveals the results of this testing.  Download it for free here.