Current Issue

Rubber compound helps Trelleborg grow

Comments Email
Trelleborg Marine Systems fender
A tug boat sporting a Trelleborg Marine Systems fender heads to port.

BERRYVILLE, Va.—Trelleborg Marine Systems is expanding its capabilities and product line with the addition of a new test rig and a tug fender that uses a unique rubber compound.

An operating unit within the Trelleborg Offshore and Construction division of Trelleborg A.B., the business is building and installing the high speed test rig, capable of testing both rubber and polyurethane elastomer foam fenders, at its recently constructed Berryville facility.

It expects to have the test rig completed and operational in the second half of 2015, a spokeswoman said.

When finished, it will be the largest fender test rig in operation in the industry and capable of testing fenders up to the largest commercially available sizes, the company claimed.

“Amongst quality conscious customers, in the U.S. especially, there is a growing requirement for verification of fender performance through full scale, as well as materials, testing,” said Richard Hepworth, president of the marine operation.

He said the business unit has found that more American contracts require local testing, and the business wanted “to make sure we responded to this need quickly, with in-house capabilities to reassure our customers.”

While the test rig will be housed at the Berryville plant, the firm said Trelleborg's global marine network will have access to the new equipment, and customers will be able to view the testing of their fenders first hand at the site.

Key component

The high speed test rig will be a critical component at the new Berryville factory, which features 45,000 square feet of manufacturing space for foam-based marine fenders and buoys and a 9,000-sq.-ft. sales and business development section, the company said.

Trelleborg is in the process of moving its production operation from its Clear Brook, Va., plant, which will be closed, to the Berryville facility, the spokeswoman said. It will relocate all of its Clear Brook employees to the facility, she said.

It expects to complete the move of both employees and machinery to the Berryville site by March.

Meanwhile, the marine systems operation has launched a new High Performance Super Resistant tug fender that the company said uses a superior rubber compound developed by Trelleborg Marine Systems.

“The new rubber compound will complement Trelleborg's existing portfolio and be available for use in Trelleborg's cylindrical fenders range,” the spokeswoman said, adding that it increases the service of a fender and gives the owner a lower density than traditional products.

Hepworth said tugs can be fitted with four types of fenders, each of which serves a particular purpose. But as tugs become more powerful, he said, “choosing the right type, size and arrangement has become increasingly critical.”

With tugs using fenders as bumpers to move larger vessels, he said, they are constantly being pushed against steel surfaces that cause the fender to wear and tear quickly.

“The improved service life and reduced maintenance requirements of the HPSAR tug fender solution highlight just how much rubber composition impacts fender performance,” Hepworth said. “In especially harsh environments, such as those in which tug fenders operate, this is critical to avoiding incidents and downtime when standard solutions may fail.”

Meeting the challenge

Trelleborg's HPSAR tug fenders already have proved their value in demanding environments, according to Mishra Kumar, global technical and market support manager for Trelleborg Marine Systems.

He said the business recently secured two contracts to produce the new HPSAR fender system for two tugs operating in a port in North Western Australia.

Trelleborg's fender system replaces one that was chipping, chunking and wearing out quickly in a difficult operational environment, Kumar said. That rapid deterioration, he said, was due to an inferior rubber compound being used in fender production.

He said the HPSAR rubber compound provided a much higher abrasion resistance in combination with a set of high mechanical properties, which met the customer's need for a longer lifecycle and cut costs.

Tug cylindrical fenders using the new compound are produced at the firm's Qingdao, China, and Singapore plants, the spokeswoman said.