Maintenance of Marine Fenders
Marine fenders are used between marine vessels and docking structures to prevent damage during berthing. They are also used to protect ships during cargo transfers at sea. Marine fenders differ in terms of size, shape, buoyancy, energy absorption, and materials of construction.
There are five basic types of marine fenders. Three, foam, pneumatic and the rubber buckling type, have either significant niche or broad based application and provide good energy dissipation. A fourth, rubber cylindrical fenders, is not economically competitive as an energy absorber whether end loaded or transversely loaded. This is not the ‘general knowledge’ throughout the marine world, but rubber arch fenders, also called V-fenders, dissipate more energy per unit of cost, and exert a lower reaction in any given envelope. A fifth type, shear fenders, has a small but loyal market niche even though it is not clear they are economically competitive with the first three types.
Rubber fenders are always in contact with the corrosive sea water. Therefore, sufficient maintenance is required in order to have long lasting rubber fenders. The main key to marine fender maintenance lies in the anchor maintenance. Anchor, made of galvanized iron, is used to attach fenders onto the pier wall. Following installation, anchors and fenders do not require any special treatment. However, the anchors need to be periodically checked to make sure that they are still in a good condition, for instance, the anchors are not rusty and still in their perfect shape (no breakage). Rust weakens the strength of the anchor, which can yield the fender to partially or even fully collapse from the pier wall. On the other hand, the rubber fender itself does not need special maintenance as the formula of the rubber contain antioxidant and anti-ozone to protect the rubber from oxidation and degradation due to ultraviolet radiation and ozone.
In conclusion, the maintenance of marine fender depends on the maintenance of the anchors. It is true that anchors are only the accessories of the fender; however, they are as important. Therefore, to have a long lasting marine fender system, these two components must be monitored continuously.
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