Marine Service Specialists

Fendercare

Fendercare is an offshore services company that supplies marine equipment and services to the oil and gas industry. The company is a worldwide original equipment distributor and the largest distributor for the Yokohama pneumatic rubber fender. Business in Focus spoke with General Manager of the Marine and the new Lifting and Testing Services division David Flatman.
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Fendercare Marine Worldwide started twenty-seven years ago in the UK Fendercare Marine has specialist divisional operations at its UK-based head office. Fendercare Marine is also in Dubai, Brazil and Singapore – home of the largest ship-to-ship transfer operations, and has Offshore operations in Angola, Ghana and Nigeria.

The company began as a worldwide distributor for the Yokohama ship fender, a huge tire-covered pneumatic rubber fender that floats between the hull and wharf side to protect the ship. The fender is also used in offshore ship-to-ship transfer of items such as raw materials, oil or liquefied petroleum gas via hose linkage systems.

The company also specialises in mooring products such as anchors and anchor chains and, over the last fifteen years, the line has expanded to distribute high performance synthetic fibre mooring ropes produced by Samson of the US and DSR of South Korea.

“The original equipment manufacturers that we use worldwide for our wire ropes include the number one and two OEMs from South Korea, namely Kiswire and DSR. In addition we use Usha Martin who have manufacturing operations around the world,” explains Flatman.

As it grew, the company became involved in material handling systems in order to enter the oil and gas industry. Its lifting, rigging and testing facilities can supply large diameter wire ropes. Fendercare Marine is a highly qualified company with ISO9001:2008 and National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA), Australian accreditation.

For specialist testing, the company had to acquire high-capacity proof load testing equipment from the world’s leading manufacturer, Wirop in Taiwan. “We have a five hundred tonne proof load testing machine in operation in Australia. In the North West Territories, we have a three hundred tonne machine.”

These machines allow Fendercare Marine to produce mechanical high capacity wire rope slings for applications in the oil and gas industries. In particular, this is needed between barges and vessels moving high-value products or assembly units for loading onto oil rigs.

“We do high-value, high-capacity wire rope slings with their attachments whereby we have to be able to do what we call spooling, socketing and other value-added services as per international standards,” Flatman explains. “In addition to the proof load testing machines, we have a 600, 300 and 2,000 ton swaging press that allows us to produce both hard-eye and soft-eye configurations on wire rope slings.” The mechanically assembled eyes are used in various applications for the oil and gas industry along with general lifting and construction work.

The company’s skilled technicians are highly qualified in non-destructive testing and magnetic partial inspection (MPI) processes. It uses a machine from Canadian company Rotesco that can scan wires to look for damage that is not visible to the naked eye. The machine can also determine the condition of the surface wire and wire main cord. Only one other company in Australia uses this type of equipment.

More recently it has entered into what it terms Products Plus. The new operations support ship to ship transfers with associated products in terms of fender and mooring systems for the commercial marine industry.

“We specialise in a complete service where we not only design, we produce and add value to ropes. The rigging technicians that we employ are able to splice the soft and hard eyes (loops formed when the ends of wire ropes are bent back) with terminal fittings for use in all types of mooring applications. We specialise in the mooring system for oil rigs, either permanently structured into the sea, or on flotation rigs.”

The lifting, rigging and testing operations are a brand new section of the business being added to a company which it acquired in 2010. The company, Australian Commercial Marine, was a commercial marine supplier predominantly catering to the local fishing and yachting community. It was after the acquisition that Fendercare decided to expand its development plans. Flatman joined one and a half years ago to set up the new lifting, rigging and testing operation.

“My first objective was to find a team of people who were fully qualified to Australian standards. It started with an operations manager that would be able to head up the new division. Otherwise, we were able to identify individuals who worked for different companies and brought a team of players who have added to our expansion and development program.”

Through these efforts, Fendercare Marine has gone from a fledgling effort to market leader in lifting, rigging and testing operations in just over a year. The success is in part attributable to its focus on providing clients with exactly what they want.

It takes more than just good business strategy, skilled staff and attention to the client’s needs to thrive. Strategic partners also play a big role. High-quality products may not be the cheapest, but Fendercare’s Yokohama fenders are used extensively around the world’s oil and gas and shipping industries mainly because of the high quality of the product and Fendercare is the biggest Yokohama distributor worldwide.

Fendercare is also a distributor for US based Crosby Group which supplies lifting products. Flatman says that Fendercare spent six months trying to convince Crosby that it could do a better job of distributing the Crosby product than anyone else in Australia, Singapore and the UK. The company was appointed distributorship in the early part of 2014 and is already exceeding the original sales estimates in terms of the growth that Crosby, on behalf of the American manufacturer, had hoped to see.

For mooring systems, Fendercare Marine is one of three Australian Samson synthetic fibre rope distributors that operate in the large ship-to-ship transfer operations out of Singapore. For wire ropes, it mainly deals with the world’s top two suppliers from South Korea namely, Kiswire and DSR along with Usha Martin – which is based in India and has manufacturing operations in Europe and Dubai.

“We have specialist companies also in the wire rope industry, namely Teufelberger from Austria, who are specialists in the supply of passenger lift ropes. It is high quality and very expensive, but they have the number one product anywhere. It is used, for example, for ski lifts,” featuring overhead passenger carrying lift applications.

Another specialist rope company out of Japan makes non-rotating ropes produced for high capacity crane use. These are used on oil rigs, floating barges or moving big construction assembly units. Some of the biggest cranes that require these ropes can lift up to 8,000 tonnes utilising large spreader frame lifting solutions.

“We are also in a position to offer very high profile plastic impregnated ropes which are non-rotating for the high capacity cranes. We supply manufactured products from around the world, both in chain slings, fibre slings and, more recently, the high profile height safety equipment which we specialise in for the world’s general industry.”

Fendercare isactively working to supply its products and services to the Impex and Ichthys projects in Darwin. Shell’s Prelude, the huge floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform being built in South Korea, will be in Darwin sometime in 2016. It will be placed offshore in the Northern Territory and pipelines are being built that will extend from the oil rig subsea to Darwin as well as to a small supply base.

Early in 2015, a number of high profile contractors including Fendercare Marine contractors will be heading into Darwin to create new supply based wharfing facilities under the movement of LNG from ship to shore, and then providing a complete service in the supply chain of product and related services from the Northern Territories.

In August 2014 Fendercare Marine opened up a large supply base branch in Karratha. Although it is a thousand kilometres from Darwin, it will act as a complete service centre for the operation. Orders were recently placed for an additional load testing machine that should be fully operational early in February 2015. The machine will add to the Darwin operation which will be a distribution centre for the whole of that project.

Fendercare is the largest and most profitable member of the James Fisher Plc Group. Through its “very passionate and risk-taking manager” CEO in the UK, there are plans to expand and develop Fendercare globally to become a major supplier around the world’s premier industries of oil and gas, mining and construction.

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September 26, 2017, 7:13 PM AEST