Filtersafe boosts filtration standards in the ballast water treatment industry by removing 316L grade stainless steel from its filter supply chain
Filtersafe, a world leader in automatic seawater filtration, has today announced the removal of 316L grade stainless steel from its supply chain for ballast water treatment system (BWTS) filters. The commitment will see Filtersafe switch to 904L grade stainless steel at its manufacturing facilities in Israel and Hong Kong, which produce filters for around 25% of the global BWTS market.
Filtersafe’s pledge comes as the company introduces a plethora of technology upgrades as part of a US$10M market-feedback programme designed to boost the quality, durability, and turnaround time of BWTS filters – all without impacting filter affordability.
Filtersafe supplies filters to many of the shipping industry’s leading BWTS manufacturers including De Nora, Ecochlor, Evoqua, ERMA FIRST, SunRui, TeamTec, Techcross, and Wärtsilä.
The initiatives announced today mark a step-change for Filtersafe, as the company aims to enhance the agility of its maritime business in response to the shipping industry’s increasingly dynamic regulatory and operational landscape.
Until now, 316L steel has been widely used across the global maritime industry as the material of choice for BWTS filter screens. However, the alloy is prone to early pitting corrosion, which can compromise the overall effectiveness of the filter and the entire BWTS.
In contrast, 904L steel is up to 82% more durable, meaning it can more effectively support the longevity of filter systems, as well as lowering maintenance costs.
To guarantee the quality of steel used in its filters, Filtersafe has invested in two x-ray fluorescence analysers that will enable the company to carry out positive material identification testing on every metal alloy that enters its manufacturing facilities.
In addition to the x-ray analysers, other upgrades that form part of the US$10M market-feedback programme include an FS laser cutting machine designed to improve repeatability in the manufacturing process, thereby minimising the margin of error and further reducing the possibility of filter screen corrosion.
A newly digitalised warehouse system also brings additional accuracy to the manufacturing progress, adding an additional layer of quality assurance as well as optimising the production line so that filters can be delivered in four to six weeks – the fastest lead time in the global maritime industry.
Commenting on Filtersafe’s latest initiatives, Filtersafe head of marine Mark Riggio said “With ballast water regulations maturing and the global maritime industry shifting its focus to operational compliance, the critical role of filters has really come to the fore – with shipowners increasingly understanding that a strong and robust filter is critical to overall system reliability.”
“As the core material used to build filters, stainless steel should be viewed as a key factor in determining a filter’s long-term performance; it is the first critical building block from which shipowners can realise greater value from their BWTS.”
“By being the first manufacturer to transition away from 316L grade steel to 904L we hope to elevate standards across the entire industry and deliver a more efficient balance between filter durability and affordability. At the same time, we’re making a huge effort to introduce new technologies and systems that instill quality across the entire filter supply chain, from start to finish, creating better value for BWMS manufacturers, as well as shipowners and operators.”
Commenting on Filtersafe’s decision to use 904L grade stainless steel to produce its filter screens, EnviroManagement vice president Marcie Merksamer said “Filtersafe’s switch from 316L grade stainless steel to 904L is a step-change for the maritime industry. The move will not only increase the longevity of Filtersafe’s filters but also minimise maintenance and increase the run-time of ballast water treatment systems. This, in turn, improves opex for both BWTS manufacturers as well as shipowners, as there will be less potential for system failures.”
Ms Merksamer added, “Filtersafe’s investment in developing and improving technology demonstrates the company’s commitment to providing quality BWTS filters. With the implementation phase of ballast water regulations underway, shipowners need confidence their systems are meeting the requirements. New innovations, including the introduction of 904L steel, will play a key role in supporting compliance. With more data available to measure and drive progress, ongoing ballast water treatment research and development is more essential than ever.”
Following the introduction of the 904L steel and supporting technology at Filtersafe’s manufacturing facilities, the company is working on an industry outreach programme that will see it work with BWTS manufacturers to assess the performance of filters currently in operation.
Filtersafe intends to extract lessons learned and share them with others in a further bid to increase standards across the industry. The industry outreach programme is underway now and is set to accelerate once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides and international travel mobility improves.