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.