New antimicrobial and hygienic flooring solutions are being developed for the passenger ship sector
Covid-19 has had an impact on flooring products for cruise ships, leading to new developments that deploy antibacterial and hygienic solutions.
It is an area Bolidt has been busy working on. The Dutch company has developed several solutions to help cruise ships combat the spread of Covid-19 and other viruses, to support a safe return to cruising.
One of these is an antibacterial coating which is keeping Bolidt’s specialists occupied in its Innovation Center. Bolidt maritime division director Jacco van Overbeek tells PST, “We launched an antibacterial flooring for use in the maritime sector in July last year, which will make a significant contribution to improving hygiene on board. This is based on pioneering technology. The implementation is complex, and our R&D team is continuing development work with different compounds for use in different products in our portfolio.”
Currently the antibacterial product can only be used for indoor flooring and not the outdoor decks. But as Mr van Overbeek says, “indoors is riskier [for Covid-19] than the outdoor decks.”
The coating, while new to the cruise sector, is a product Bolidt developed many years ago for the hospital sector. “It is a transparent product that can be applied to a flooring that gives it a very durable and hygienic surface. As a proven technology for land-based applications, when Covid-19 happened, we looked at how we could combine a hospital solution with a designer feel in a cruise ship,” explains Mr van Overbeek.
In a new approach, Bolidt is using this coating on an innovative ‘hybrid floor’ solution, which was a concept conceived together with YSA Interiors. This consists of a hygienic, easily cleanable floor that could be used in cabins under carpeting.
Mr van Overbeek explains, “Cabins need to be warm and comfortable, so cruise operators lay carpets there. But most carpets hold bacteria and dirt, so we have launched a concept where cruise lines install our flooring first and have the carpet fitted on top. The moment there is a Covid case, the cruise operator can remove the carpet and still have a decorative floor finish but one which is very easy to clean and hygienic.”
Mr van Overbeek says, “We expect that soon cruise operators may be redesigning ships so that if required, cabins (and perhaps other spaces) can be quickly converted into hospital rooms and facilities. A flexible approach is going to be key to keeping passengers and ships safe.”
Another recent innovation at Bolidt is its sensor flooring, which the company recognises can also play a major role in making ships safer in post-pandemic times. “This is another evolving concept. We had already launched Bolideck LED, where lighting is embedded in the decking, now we are trialling this product with inbuilt sensors linking to alarms. If there are certain areas a passenger cannot enter, or too many passengers are in one place at one time, the sensors trigger an alarm on the bridge so the crew can intervene.”
Bolidt has also been developing the cleanability of floors. Interestingly, the company launched its Bolidt Cleaning Program in 2019, before Covid-19 appeared, but it is especially relevant to the cruise sector now.
Mr van Overbeek explains, “The Cleaning Program offers cruise lines a comprehensive approach to hygiene which they themselves can manage. It consists of an eco-surface cleaner and different tools and applicators. The probiotics break down the dirt from the surface in a continuous process; they stay on the floor and keep it clean. These are properties that are environmentally friendly so there is no issue with using them inside a harbour or out at sea.”
Royal Caribbean is using it on all its ships. “The results are very good and can be achieved easily by the crew,” says Mr van Overbeek. “Their safety office was involved in implementing the product to check the cleaning does not affect the anti-slip properties of the decks, which it doesn’t.”
After a year where the cruise industry was put on pause due to Covid-19, the sector is busy again as ships prepare to sail. Bolidt is involved with a range of work spanning maintenance, drydock and newbuilds. “Orders for maintenance that should have taken place previously are being carried out this year. We expect to complete 11 drydock projects before the end of 2021 so the market is picking up. These projects tend to be smaller as cruise liners are starting with the most necessary work… we expect a big boom in the next two years.”
Bolidt is also working on a range of newbuilds with 18 projects scheduled for this year, from river cruise ships to oceangoing vessels being built in Germany, Finland, Italy, France and China. Projects extend to the expedition cruise sector, including all outdoor decks on board Mystic Cruises’ new ships and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection newbuild.
As well as a focus on making Covid-friendly solutions, sustainability is an ongoing focus for Bolidt, which is concentrating on making its decking solutions lighter. “If you have a big cruise ship, you can save 50,000-60,000 kg just with weight reductions to the base layer,” says Mr van Overbeek. These lighter-weight materials can contribute to significant fuel savings.
Bolidt is also part of the Green Dot initiative, which is based on making the entire supply chain as sustainable as possible. The company continues to create, test and showcase pioneering, eco-friendly designs and materials, which also cover the decking specialist’s raw material suppliers. One requirement is that they are located as close as possible to Bolidt’s premises to reduce transportation requirements, thus preventing unnecessary CO2 emissions.
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