Thordon Bearings ThorPlas-Blue grease-free bearings won the annual International Bulk Journal (IBJ) Environment Protection (Marine) Award 2023 hosted by British comedian Hugh Dennis and IBJ publisher Ray Girvan. Thordon Bearings was also nominated in the Innovative Technology Award category for the same product.
Designed and developed by Thordon, the polymer deck equipment bearings eliminate the risk of pollution from greasing systems as well as offers easy installation, and a long, maintenance-free bearing wear life.
Commonplace on vessels in fairleads, capstans, winches, lifeboat davit bearings, cranes, chain hoists, door and ramp hinge bearing systems, the product has begun attracting interest for its effectiveness in the hatch cover systems aboard bulk carriers.
At London’s Honourable Artillery Company, its regional manager of Northern Europe Neil McDonald said, “Our bearings are widely used in ships’ deck machinery but the design of the ThorPlas-Blue product has opened a new market for us. [Due] to the ability of the elastomeric polymer material in these bearings to withstand high pressures — up to 6,527psi — they are now installed on the hatch cover wheels of dry bulk vessels.”
Norway-based ship manager Wilson Ship Management, which operates Europe’s largest shortsea fleet, was reportedly among the first bulk carrier operators to select ThorPlas-Blue to replace the greased bronze bearings on the hatch cover wheels of some of its dry cargo vessels. Following a retrofit on Wilson Weser, the company has installed ThorPlas-Blue bearings onboard eight of its ships during scheduled drydocking.
“The feedback to this application has been positive and we are experiencing increased interest in ThorPlas-Blue for application on the hatch covers of dry bulk vessels,” added McDonald. “Like all of Thordon bearings, the use of Thor-Plas Blue in deck machinery reduces the environmental impact since they require neither lubricating oil nor grease.”
With traditionally designed greased bronze bearings, a hatch cover’s wheel spindles, cleat spindles, hinge pins, hydraulic cylinder protective sheaths, cleat wedges, drive chain sprockets, toothed rack and cylinder spherical bearings typically need to be greased at least once a month to ensure that the hatch covers open and close smoothly. This greasing operation is, however, time consuming and messy; it leads to the risk of grease escaping and polluting the water; and it comes with some safety risks for the seafarers carrying out the work.
“In parallel with decarbonisation, the eyes of the world — not to mention regulators — are focused on shipping in relation to the protection of the ocean and wildlife from pollution. Thordon Bearings’ environmentally-focused products provide the solution to reduce the environmental impact across shipping operations,” said the regional manager.