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Transport & Logistics

Bollards – the Cinderella of quayside equipment

14 Feb 2020, by Amy Sarcevic

Supply chain innovation is occurring at an impressive rate, globally, with ongoing technological disruption seen in all facets of the sector.

Ports are no exception. With unprecedented demand for commodity exports – and with ships increasing steadily in size – many Australian marinas have been forced to explore innovative means of creating more physical space.

This has seen port operators turn to technologies such as computer-modelled dynamic underkeel clearance, and AI-operated tug boats to optimise the port turnaround process.

Standards and protocols are also continually refreshed to this same effect.

But one aspect which appears to have been overlooked in terms of modernisation – a small but integral component of the port infrastructure toolkit – are bollards, explains Andy Sawyer of Fendercare, UK – what he describes as the “Cinderella of quayside equipment”.

“Quite a lot of the bollards that are seen on quaysides today were placed there in the 1950s and 1960s,” he said, ahead of the 2020 IHMA Congress in Hobart.

“The problem with this is that the steadily increasing size of ship­s is imposing higher levels of stress on them. And there is still very little in terms of international standards to provide references for bollard manufacturers  and procurers.

“We think that there’s scope for there to be some consideration to this issue, so that people know exactly what they are putting on their quaysides.”

Sawyer explains that typical port projects requiring Quayside equipment, like fenders, always include a comprehensive, technical specification for materials and testing. In contrast, the protocol for bollards is typically just one paragraph.

“Though bollards are referenced in various Standards, they aren’t anywhere near to the level of detail that they are for fenders or mooring ropes for example. There are no clear criteria in terms of how a bollard is designed or at what rope angles the loads can tolerate. It may say something short and simplistic, along the lines of ‘100 tonne bollard in grey iron’,” said Sawyer.

“If you look at one of the few international Standards (BS6349) that does refer to bollards, it states that they are designed for a maximum of two ropes from the same vessel. But you only have to walk around any port to see bollards with four ropes – two from one vessel, two from another – so the standard is out of step with common practice.

“Only recently has there been any investigative work done to find out what sort of loads are going onto the bollards. In contrast new standards and industry guidelines have been introduced for the mooring equipment on ships, clearly defining the loading cases.”

A proposal for a working group on this issue has been put forward to PIANC, the World Association of Waterbourne Transport Infrastructure and is currently under discussion.

“At this point, we  hope the proposal will be accepted. Bollards are a safety critical piece of equipment and they deserve a lot more attention than they currently get,” Sawyer concluded.

Andy Sawyer is the Technical Director of Fendercare (Products), and is due to present at the IHMA Congress on 23-26 March 2020 in Hobart.

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