Written by Sarrah Macey & Grace Hoskins | With thanks to C-Systems & Services, Seagull Yacht Services,Australian Davits and Cranes, Samuel Marine Equipment, Phoenix Marine Solutions and Nautical Structures
Superyachts will generally use hydraulics to power their davits, but pneumatics is used on vessels up to 50 feet to assist in the manual operation of luffing and jib extension. This is because pneumatics is generally lighter and cheaper than hydraulics.
Hydraulic power is almost always preferable in equipment operation and articulation. Occasionally a pneumatic gas-strut may be used to help counter-balance the weight of a small davit-boom when deployed manually. In today’s industry this represents a very small demographic of product; the vast majority of all tender-handling equipment built is powered by hydraulic fluid power.
When sourcing a company for your davit or crane, there are a few key points to consider
Is the company financially stable in today’s markets?Following the global recession there are a lot of economic challenges for equipment manufacturers, and not all suppliers of deck equipment are financially solvent and stable. Todays suppliers are competing for fewer jobs and too many sacrifice profit for cash-flow! A consumer should do thorough research when selecting the supplier of equipment; low price does not always equate to value, solvency and after-sales support.
What safety factor (SF) does the company provide?Rick Thomas of Nautical Structures explained, “Tender-handling equipment typically falls under one of two configurations; non-classed or built to class. It is critical to understand the specification as well as the suppliers’ standards when selecting this type of equipment.
“Smaller yachts and some privately owned and operated yachts tend to go with non-classed equipment. In this case there are no agencies or regulating bodies to identify what the safety factors should be for this equipment. It is up to the manufacturer!”
Companies such as Nautical Structures Industries (NSI) use an established standard. In the case with NSI, they use the ABS standards for cargo-handling. Rick explained, “This requires a minimum structural integrity Safety Factor (SF) of 2.5:1. Cable, falls/hooks should have a SF of 5:1. We test this equipment with a 125% live load as part of our equipment certification.”
Classed equipment typically falls under LAME (Lifting Appliances in the Marine Environment); IMO/LSA Rules for SOLAS (International Maritime Organization/Life Saving Appliances for Safety Of Life At Sea) and are governed and administered by Classification Society and the vessel’s flag state. These rules are very specific, and vary depending upon the stated purpose of the davit or crane. Much of the safety factors are similar, but standards of operation, back-up power and other variables vary.
Certifications are given for ‘Rescue Boat’ launching, ‘Life Boat/Raft’ launching and ‘Manned Submersible’ launching. For comparative purposes to non-classed equipment, this equipment generally is built with a structural SF of 4.5:1 to tensile, falls and hooks with a minimum SF of 7.5:1, dynamic load testing at 120% design load, static load testing at 220% design load, a winch load-hold test of 150% design load, and safe operation of the crane in both static and dynamic loading with an inclination emulating a 20-degree list and 10-degree trim of the vessel!
Lifting angles of a deck crane are often brought to issue. Nautical Structures explained that professional companies should bear in mind that few clients are trained and certified crane operators, therefore cranes should not be placed in a position that could cause damage or structural failure. All davits and cranes should have the capacity to be fully loaded at rated load capacity at full outreach with the boom in a horizontal position. By this approach to design, a crane operator may not accidentally place the crane in a position that could result in a failure. A Lift Overload Protection (LOP) feature limits the winch hoisting capacity to 115% of design load.
Are they a partner or approved supplier to any of the industry’s largest yacht builders?Professional equipment suppliers tend to build their business around supplying the industry’s largest builders and this information is usually found on their website.
Do they use innovative technology?Product development and innovation requires experience, sound engineering and financial stability in order to be successful; a great company will push themselves to be leaders in this industry and develop new systems and solutions.
Hydraulics, technology and CNC machines
Due to a rise in larger new build yachts being produced, the recent demand in hydraulic systems syncing with technology has rocketed according to Carlos Castillo from C-Systems & Services, a key industry influencer in servicing yacht hydraulic, electrical and pneumatic equipment.
Stephany commented, “Customers are asking for the newest and smartest technology for their yachts. To ensure we are providing our customers with the highest level of services and solutions, we make a point of sending out technicians to our vender’s latest courses and seminars. The size of new-build yachts is increasing, thus meaning, so is the average order spend too.”
In terms of business, hydraulic providers are increasing their use of electronic systems in producing fixtures and fittings for yachts. A CNC machine is used to produce a large quantity of the same item daily. First of all the design is drawn using computer software, then it is processed and manufactured using the CNC machine, ensuring an efficient work flow.
“With the use of a top of the line HAAS ST 30ssy CNC machine, C-Systems & Services are able to fabricate parts in house. This form of technology is proving a benefit for both the business and our clients, we are currently unaware of any competitors using a CNC machine.” Stephany commented.
Maintaining your CNC built hydraulic system
It is as important to uphold the routine maintenance on a CNC fabrication system, as it is with any hydraulic system.
Stephany from C-Systems & Services continued… “When it comes to maintaining and installing davits and hydraulics, I suggest the buyers know the maximum size tender that can be used on board so that the crane will be sized accordingly.
“Installations should always be done by a professional. It’s extremely important to install and adjust all equipment properly to ensure safety all round and maintenance work should be done periodically. Keeping the system lubricated and tuned-up will help ensure the equipment always performs at its best.”
Do they use stainless steel?The selection of materials is very important in product design. Some companies have been found to use the more expensive stainless steel fittings in places visible, and less expensive steel fitting in locations not typically visible! Buyer beware, quality manufacturers will understand the environment the equipment will live in, and design appropriately. 316L stainless steel is appropriate in many applications, but higher-tensile 17-4PH stainless steel is appropriate in other elements of the equipment. Stainless steel needs to be isolated from the surrounding aluminium structure, and bushings should be used for this purpose.
Are all designs completed in-house rather that sub-contracted out?Keeping design work in-house will stop lengthy delays while communications are sent back and forth. Plus using naval architects and designers that are familiar with the davit or crane system the customer wants will ensure that they get an elegant and smooth solution that works.
Do their production facilities and workshops boast the latest machinery?Having the latest machinery and tools will make sure the products are manufactured to the highest standards, have better finishes and be more accurately put together.
Can they custom create a whole boat solution to your exact requirements?Even if you only need a smaller system, making sure the company doesn’t baulk at a larger job will assure you that they are more than capable to work on your project.
What is the after-sales service like?Having helpful, available staff to answer any post sale questions and a good guarantee will make sure your hydraulics and or pneumatics solution is fit for purpose, has been made to a high standard and will last through tough conditions and regular use.
Can they provide testimonials from happy customers?Ideally testimonials are available on company websites, but many good businesses should be able to email you comments from happy customers to prove their customer service levels.
Yachting Tips for your hydraulic and pneumatic system
John Samuel, founder of Samuel Marine Equipment gave the following advice:
- Pneumatics should have drier filters fitted between the compressor and the tank.
- The tank should have the facility to drain any water off (eg a ball valve) and the engineers should do this at regular intervals.
- If the valve has a pipe fitted, the water may be disposed of without making a mess.
- When designing a system, an ‘oiler’ may be required for certain equipment. This will meter oil into the output line concerned and lubricate the equipment.
- Hydraulic power may be drawn off the main engines and systems may be retrofitted.
- Tank size and design are of the utmost importance to keep the oil cool & efficiently recycled.
- Careful selection of good quality component manufacturers will ensure that parts are reliable and in the case of wear and tear; readily available worldwide.
- Failure of this equipment is generally due to prolonged exposure to the elements or salt air, rarely the hydraulics.
From solenoid valves to hydraulic cylinders the market is growing
Hydraulic and pneumatic driven davits are growth sectors, and from entire custom jobs to case-by-case component sales, the range of products and services available can seem bewildering. When it comes to the products, consider their whole-life cost, not just the upfront purchase price. If you can buy it for £10 instead of £12, will you then need to repair it around the world for the next two years? If you have five hydraulic systems provided by five different suppliers, who will take overall responsibility for the vessel’s systems?
Luxury pneumatics for your luxury yacht
When a system is designed, built, installed and commissioned correctly, then problem solving can be as simple as checking a fuse or topping up the oil. When the system is not as stated previously then you can only hope you have a good engineer to call and you’re not at sea with a door open!
Maintaining your hydraulic system
Flemming Niehorster, owner of Seagull Yacht Services advised, “The most important thing about hydraulics is cleanliness. Oil should be changed once a year. Although the system is usually closed it will attract water and this will play havoc with the spools.”
Have one port of call for all your hydraulics and pneumatic needs
To ensure a trouble-free life, find a hydraulic partner who will design, manufacture, install, commission and support a centralised system of mechanical products driven by hydraulics. This centralised system will save you time, space, weight and energy and you’ll have one port of call for any after sales service requirements.
Use your davit safely
John Berg, owner of Australian Davits and Cranes explained, “Always match the load to the davit. Don`t buy a dinghy for example that weighs 385kg, and then purchase a davit rated to 350kg and turn around and rely on the inbuilt safety factor. Invariably the salesman will say it will be ok but it really isn’t! The ‘Safe Working Load’ is not a guideline; it is a calculation that is there to protect the operator and their crew. It’s like the fact that the speed limit on the road is there to protect the drivers and their passengers. Just because your car can do 240kph doesn’t mean you should drive everywhere at 240kph.