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Jumbo’s innovative prototype belt sander reduces flash rust

15 February 2021 - Jumbo is pleased to present an in-house developed innovation that goes a long way to solve the issue of persistent flash rust caused by the removal of temporary welded securings on board its fleet of heavy lift vessels. The prototype device was developed by Jumbo Chief Officer and part-time Master’s student Bob Heikoop. Initial results show that the device is not only faster than existing methods of removing temporary weldings, it is also cleaner for the environment, healthier for users, and improves the appearance of the ship.

While Jumbo’s nine heavy lift vessels are technically and operationally in excellent condition, their decks and hull sides have a decidedly rusty appearance. Known as flash rust, this has the potential to be detrimental to Jumbo’s reputation for the proper management of its assets. Flash rust is caused by the corrosion of steel particles dispersed during the removal of temporary welded securings, a process requiring the use of cutting, gouging and grinding tools. The steel and paint particles formed during the removal process can also be harmful to the environment and to human health. Further adding to the list of negative consequences, the removal of the temporary welded securing is a time-consuming and uncomfortable task for the ships’ crews.

Practical problem with green potential
This situation did not go unnoticed to Jumbo Chief Officer Bob Heikoop. Bob had started a Master’s degree in Marine Shipping Innovations at the Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz in the Netherlands in 2018, and was looking for a subject on which to focus his final thesis.

“I wanted to combine a practical problem that Jumbo was facing with a subject that was important to society in terms of sustainability,” says Bob. “Solving the flash rust problem could achieve both of these. First: Reducing our environmental footprint by reducing the release of paint and steel particles. Second: Preventing, or at least reducing the rusty appearance.”

Innovative modifications
After concluding that welding was the quickest, most efficient and most cost-effective way of securing the temporary sea-fastenings, the main question that Bob needed to address was a new way to remove the sea-fastenings that simultaneously collected steel and paint particles.

The solution was a Fein GIMS-75 belt sander, which Bob modified with the addition of a spark/molten steel particle catcher, an extraction system, and a collection container. The performance of the resultant prototype device was then verified within four separate parameters: i) Removal of paint layer, ii) Removal of top part of temporary welding, iii) Removal of bottom part of temporary welding and iv) Flattening of surrounding paint layer. 

Multiple benefits
The results were overwhelmingly positive. “We were very enthusiastic about the outcome,” adds Bob. “The modifications made to the GIMS-75 means that it catches and removes the steel and paint particles. In terms of sustainability, there are no particles entering the environment. But it is also much faster than the current way of working – on average, three times as fast – which makes it very interesting commercially.”

The prototype also yielded benefits in terms of human health, as Bob explains: “For the person using the existing method, this meant spending the whole day working on your hands and knees with an angle grinder on the deck of the ship. Whereas users can walk behind this prototype in a standing position. It is better ergonomically and it produces far fewer vibrations.”

50 years of innovation
This latest Jumbo innovation illustrates the company’s proactive way of stimulating such in-house initiatives. This philosophy was cemented into the company’s way of working with the establishment of the Jumbo Innovation Program in 2011. This program has two major aims; to develop innovative transport and installation solutions, and to advance Jumbo's reliability, safety and cost effectiveness.

“Jumbo is open to innovation – in terms of new techniques and new ways of working,” concludes Bob. “Even though we’ve been in business for 50 years, we still want to look where we can improve processes.”

Interested in a full explanation and seeing the machine at work? Click here for the 4.35 min video.

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