Mooring rope manufacturers cannot afford to let compliance be compromised by those taking a lower cost approach to MEG4, writes Samson Ropes’ vice president of research and development Kris Volpenhein
The ongoing challenge for all mooring rope producers is to accept the MEG4 guidelines and pay to execute all the tests and all the processes. It is an expensive process, but all the stakeholders in the development of OCIMF’s MEG4 were aware of this.
Therefore, it is disheartening and not a little unfair, that a few years after the acceptance of MEG4, products are appearing in the marketplace that are advertised as having achieved compliance with MEG4, with the endorsement of certifying bodies, but at a vastly reduced cost. These products seem to the market (or the market chooses to accept), that these products are fully compliant with MEG4.
In these cases, a closer examination of the MEG4 certificate reveals that the testing was not completed in its entirety, or the product manufacturer tried to explain away why it was acceptable to perform the test one-tenth the number of cycles required in the MEG4 guidelines.
It is a severe challenge for those manufacturers that have undertaken the full testing procedure. It is also a challenge for IACS. Some of the class societies that are issuing MEG4 certification with abbreviated testing are IACS members – supposedly upholding the highest standards.
The rope industry is trying to do its part. The North American and European technical committees (Cordage Institute and Eurocord, respectively) are working with MEG4-certified manufacturers to consolidate related feedback. Furthermore, those groups are working with IACS to explain the issue to stakeholders and resolve the issue; but it is a time consuming process and meanwhile there is mooring rope in the marketplace that has only been tested to one-tenth the MEG4 cycles.
“Some of the class societies that are issuing MEG4 certification with abbreviated testing are IACS members”
How did this situation arise? MEG3 did not require any testing. It did not describe any testing and it did not outline any way of communicating a product’s performance. This meant that rope manufacturers were left alone to devise rope to the criteria of their position in the marketplace.
If the manufacturer was in the premium segment, it devised tests and produced data to support the reason for the higher cost of its product and its superior performance. A manufacturer providing mooring rope at the cheaper end of the market was designing and producing mooring rope optimised to price segment.
The type-approval programmes were designed to test and assure the mooring rope performed to the specification provided by the manufacturer.
The disconnect lies in how some certifying bodies are adopting the test procedures in Appendix B of MEG4. Each certifying body has a team of mooring rope experts which hold a view on how the test requirements of MEG4 are conducted and the worth of the tests. In some cases, certifying bodies have decided that certain tests are unnecessary when considering the intended use of the rope.
While it is valid to have those views, not performing the tests and saving the particular rope manufacturer a considerable sum of money, creates an unfair playing field. That was not the intention of the OCIMF and the stakeholders of MEG4.
One way to resolve the situation would be to strengthen the wording in MEG4 to close off the perceived loophole that an amendment or notes on the certificate, explaining the lack of compliance, is sufficient to issue a MEG4-style certificate. In Samson Ropes’ opinion, providing a MEG4-style certificate without undertaking the full regime of testing, for whatever reason, gives a false level of confidence to the end user of mooring lines and tails. The safety of the end user is at stake and the situation should not be allowed to continue.