Testing the technological waters

Throwing the lines: automated mooring systems are gaining a foothold in the market

The marine market is cautious in adopting new technology and Mooring Systems' MoorMaster automated mooring products represent a significant change, says MSL managing director Peter Montgomery. 

"We are seeing clear signs that the market is beginning to accept the technology as a safe and beneficial alternative to traditional rope mooring," he says. "As we install more reference sites in key market segments,we believe this will springboard a strong uptake of automated mooring.

"We will be testing three further MoorMaster product variations during 2007 and we will be in a great position soon to offer a strong stable of solutions for customers within the general container, bulk and ferry markets."

New Zealand-based MSL, which merged with Dutch partner Cavotec in October, recently reported the successful testing of its MM600 installation at Salalah in Oman. Four MM600 units are spaced over the length of one berth; during the tests, containerships 300 metres in length were secured using MSL's automatic mooring system.

"The MM600s successfully held the ships alongside and further, significantly reduced the surge motion that was being experienced. Reduction of ship motion is a key goal of the project,"says MSL.Tests will continue over the next few months.

Generally, integration of technology into mooring systems is increasing, adds Simon Redford of FenderCare. "The technology is more efficient and the data is available.

"We work with partners on software and James Fisher's acquisition of Strainstall (this year) means we now have within the group their existing software and also engineers who can upgrade or improve software.

James Fisher's strategy of developing an integrated approach to the market was boosted with the acquisition of Strainstall - the company's quick-release hooks and jetty monitoring software being of particular interest to FenderCare.

Trelleborg Marine Systems'(TMS) activities in this area have also been boosted through acquisition. TMS, which includes the Fentek brand, acquired Melbourne-based marine systems specialist Harbour & Marine Engineering in March 2006.

"Within TMS we are looking at removing the guesswork of mooring, by giving ports 'smart berths'," says Mike Harrison, marketing director of Trelleborg Marine Systems."Harbour Marine does the control systems - TMS does the fender systems, and that is why we have merged them together. Using the ship's data and other information, we are looking at ways of predicting the berthing energy of the ship long before it has even hit the structure - so that if it isn't coming in right, you can stop and try again."

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