Jumbo has developed a prototype belt sander for the removal of temporary welded securings from its fleet of heavy lift vessels. The method is faster than existing methods, better for the environment, and improves the appearance of a vessel.

Developed by Bob Heikoop, Jumbo chief officer and part-time master’s student, the innovation reduces what is known as flash rust, which is caused by the corrosion of steel particles dispersed during the removal of temporary welded fixings. The steel and paint particles formed during the removal process can be harmful to the environment and to human health, said Jumbo.

While studying his master’s degree in marine shipping innovations at the Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz in the Netherlands, Heikoop turned his attention to the flash rust issue. “I wanted to combine a practical problem that Jumbo was facing with a subject that was important to society in terms of sustainability. 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 [of the ship].”

The solution was a Fein GIMS-75 belt sander, which Heikoop modified with the addition of a spark/molten steel particle catcher, an extraction system, and a collection container. “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, added Heikoop. “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.”