Thordon Bearings’ ThorPlas-Blue grease-free bearings won the annual IBJ Environment Protection (Marine) Award 2023 during a gala dinner last night hosted by British comedian Hugh Dennis and International Bulk Journal 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 not only eliminate the risk of pollution from greasing systems, but also offer easy installation, and a long, maintenance-free bearing wear life.
Already commonplace on vessels in fairleads, capstans, winches, lifeboat davit bearings, cranes, chain hoists, and door and ramp hinge bearing systems, the product has recently begun attracting interest for its effectiveness in the hatch cover systems aboard bulk carriers.
On accepting the award last night at a gala dinner at London’s Honourable Artillery Company, Mr. Neil McDonald, Regional Manager – Northern Europe, said: “I am delighted to accept this prestigious award on behalf of Thordon Bearings. Our pioneering bearings are already widely used in ships’ deck machinery. But the design of the ThorPlas-Blue product has opened an important new market for us. Thanks to the ability of the elastomeric polymer material in these bearings to withstand very high pressures – up to 45MPa (6,527 psi) – they are now being successfully installed on the hatch cover wheels of dry bulk vessels.”
Norway-based ship manager Wilson Ship Management AS, which operates Europe’s largest shortsea fleet, was 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 successful retrofit on Wilson Weser, the company has installed ThorPlas-Blue bearings onboard eight of its ships during scheduled drydockings.
“The feedback to this relatively new application has been very positive and we are experiencing increased interest in ThorPlas-Blue for application on the hatch covers of dry bulk vessels,” said McDonald. “Like all of Thordon’s 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 decarbonization, 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 of any kind. Thordon Bearings’ environmentally focused products provide the ideal solution to reduce the environmental impact across shipping operations,” said McDonald.