DSM Dyneema has formed a strategic partnership with Bergen, Norway based Load Solutions for the development, manufacturing, sales and marketing of link chains made with Dyneema fibre rather than the traditional steel.
The chains, which have been branded TYCAN, are the first industrial chains for handling heavy loads to be produced from DSM's ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMwPE) fibre, Dyneema.
The TYCAN chains are being produced for Load Solutions by Spanish textile manufacturer Industrias Murtra.
Certification and testing has taken place over the last two years, and TYCAN chains have already passed the first and second levels of certification by international classification society DNV GL. Full and final certification is expected in early 2015.
DSM Dyneema claims that the chains have numerous economic, environmental and safety advantages over traditional chains, which have been made out of iron and steel for centuries.
The TYCAN chains are made with Dyneema DM20 fibre, which the company says makes the chains efficient and safe to use, resistant to chemicals and seawater-proof. Since Dyneema has a density of less than one, DSM Dyneema claims that TYCAN is the only chain in the world that can float on water, while also holding in place a wind turbine wing weighing 6 tonnes, a 60-tonne battle tank, or a 600-tonne electrical mega power transformer.
DSM says that the chains can be wrapped over the edges of cargo without suffering damage, as well as being able to withstand the sorts of shock loads that may occur on ships sailing through stormy weather, without any stretching that might cause the cargo to shift.
The chains are also more flexible than ropes for holding heavy loads, says the company, and it is easy to shorten link chains to the required length for a particular job by doubling them back using hooks.
Kjell M. Veka, managing director at Load Solutions, explained that TYCAN chains are lighter and less noisy than traditional steel chains: "The heavy steel chains that the cargo lashing market has relied on until now are difficult and noisy to use, they can rust, and they are tough on cargo, equipment and lashing crews. TYCAN chains with Dyneema are up to eight times lighter than regular steel link chains with the same strength."
Several sets of trials using the chains have been completed for different markets. Mammoet Europe has evaluated the chains on its mega trucks and trailers, while Norwegian shipping company Nor Lines has been testing the chains for tying down loads on ships.
Marcel Schets, manager of safety, health, environment and quality at Mammoet Europe, commented on the quality of the product: "In the field trial programme, one of our mega trucks and trailers was equipped with TYCAN lashing chains to lash down oversized cargo safely while driving over European roads. We found the chains to be very light and easy to use, and they improved the overall safety of our workers."
Heidi Skare, operations manager at Nor Lines, was also impressed by the TYCAN chains: "The new chains have been a great success in lashing oversized and regular cargo on three of our cargo vessels over a period of several months and in challenging weather conditions…We observed less damage and we experienced much easier and faster handling with better ergonomics and comfort."
Skare added that Nor Lines is now prepared to begin a full fleet conversion, with TYCAN chains on all nine of its special cargo vessels.