A series of well-attended webinar conferences broadcast during the first Covid lockdown has resulted in Thordon Bearings securing a contract from a Mexican fishing vessel operator.
Thordon’s SXL rudder bearings were installed on the 1174gt Grupomar-operated fishing vessel María Luisa at the Mexican Navy Dry Dock in Manzanillo, Mexico, marking the Canadian bearing manufacturer’s entry into Mexico’s expansive tuna fishing fleet.
After attending a series of online technical sessions on how water-lubricated stern tube bearings can reduce operational costs, Grupomar became interested in the Thordon technology but enquired if similar solutions were available for other parts of the ship.
Grupomar, which currently operates a fleet of eight tuna fishing vessels was looking to replace its bronze rudder bearings with a more effective solution.
Arturo Selvas, Managing Director, TZ Industrias, Thordon Bearings’ authorized distributor in the region, said that while the operational cost benefits of a grease-free system was an important consideration, “it was the low weight of the SXL rudder bearing that clinched the deal”.
“Compared to the approximately 240kg (529lb) weight of a typical bronze rudder bearing of the size required, Thordon’s polymer SXL rudder bearings are about 83% lighter and much easier to install in machinery spaces where space is limited. Replacing the pintle bearing with a 40kg (88lb) SXL bearing solved the problem.”
Bearing replacement work was carried out at the Manzanillo drydock, with service personnel from TZ Industrias providing the owner and yard with technical drawings and information about SXL’s special features, machining, and installation requirements.
Grupomar Fleet Manager Juan Nava said: “The installation was much easier than expected. Based on our first operational experience of the Thordon material, we believe rudder operation will now be significantly smoother than it was with a traditional bearing. We don’t anticipate any technical issues and expect an extended rudder life due to the SXL bearing material’s shock-resistant properties. We can also contribute to a cleaner marine environment as these bearings eliminate the risk of pollution.”
Commenting on the success of the webinars Egnard Bernal, Thordon’s Business Development Manager, Marine – LATAM, said: “A key aspect of the webinars was to showcase the developments we have made in grease-free polymer technology, so we are pleased it resonated with so many fishing vessel and workboat operators.
“Greased brass bushings have been used for rudders and rotating machinery for many years, but the technology is out of sync with today’s requirement for a low-cost, lightweight, environmentally safe, crew-friendly bearing system.
Bernal, who presented the technical webinars in the Latin America region, furthered: “We are delighted that these webinars have been a success, resulting in a contract win with Grupomar, a new customer for Thordon Bearings. With Covid travel restrictions it can be difficult for companies to get their messages across, but this has shown the extensive reach that this type of online technical conference can have.”
TZ Industrias and Grupomar are now discussing deck equipment upgrades with Thordon’s grease-free ThorPlas-Blue bearings for when the fishing fleet enters drydock after the season ends in October.
The shipowner is also considering converting its oil-lubricated stern tube bearings to Thordon’s water-lubricated propeller shaft bearings at future drydockings.