Leading passenger ship flooring manufacturers reveal technology advancements to reduce maintenance, extend longevity and include sensors
Passenger ships will be one of the main markets for a flooring design that provides a secure interface between flooring material and a ship’s drainage channels.
Managing director of wastewater management specialist ACO Marine, Mark Beavis told Passenger Ship Technology in early September that this solution will be on the market in 6-12 months, once tests have been completed.
These are being conducted jointly with Switzerland´s Sika Group, which makes a range of resin flooring for marine and shoreside applications. The two companies have co-operated for more than three years on non-marine work and have now extended this to their marine work.
In a statement marking the launch of their joint initiative at the SMM exhibition in September, Mr Beavis said current maritime drainage-floor connections can be damaged after a few years of operation, often requiring extensive and costly flooring repairs or replacement. With no guidelines to follow, “ship operators and shipbuilders have used trial and error when selecting the appropriate flooring and drainage system.”
He told PST that preliminary tests have simulated 250,000 cycles of a wheel going across the drainage channel but said mechanical loads are not the only ones to consider. Thermal forces – for example, if hot water is poured into the drain in a galley – and flexing movements from the ship’s motion at sea – must also be considered and tests are still to be completed on these details.
“This is an overlooked part of shipbuilding,” he said. On almost any ship “there will be areas of cracking and damage around the edge of the channel where it joins the flooring material.” These will be “continuously scraped, scratched, cleaned, repainted and made good” yet “if the installation is done right in the first place, it can almost become fit-and-forget.”
Passenger ships will particularly benefit because of the numerous areas where water and flooring coincide: loading areas, galleys, food stores, bathrooms, balconies, on outside decks, around hot tubs and swimming pools – “wherever there is drainage from the deck, this concept is applicable. And there are a lot of decks on cruise ships,” Mr Beavis said.
He also stressed that the drainage channels are designed to be hygienic, so it uses its patented ACO Hygienic system, which has no right angles or dirt traps to harbour bacteria – a major concern for passenger ship operators.
ACO Marine’s statement quoted Sika Services corporate business development manager for marine Tony Jenkins who welcomed the extension of the companies’ co-operation into the marine sphere, saying it will “allow Sika and ACO Marine to develop guidelines and solutions to optimise the interface connections between the flooring and drainage systems on board ships.”
Mr Beavis underlined the significance of the co-operation, saying that in the past flooring and drainage systems have been installed separately with neither contractor understanding the requirements of the other. “Putting the two together and getting them to talk and develop a proper interface structure has allowed us to provide a solution so that we can advise the yard as they lay their deck surfaces down.”
Preventing dirt and moisture
New and innovative solutions are also important for UK-headquartered Forbo Flooring Systems. Technical representative for Forbo’s flooring solution Coral, Dick van Bergen said “First impressions are crucial, which is why effective entrance flooring that stops dirt and moisture being tracked on board is fundamental to modern day cruise and ferry design.”
Forbo Flooring Systems already has such an entrance system, Coral T32 FR, within its marine product portfolio. This collection was updated this year to be more in line with both current and future demands.
Therefore, the company has launched its new IMO-certified textile entrance system Coral Marine FR, which absorbs moisture and removes dry soiling in entrance and circulation areas.
Mr van Bergen said “By removing wet and dry soiling from the soles of shoes and wheel treads, an effective entrance system reduces premature wear and tear to interior floor coverings, minimises cleaning and maintenance costs and protects passengers by reducing slip hazards.”
The product stops up to 95% of dirt and moisture from being tracked on board. It is constructed of a wool and polyamide mix and is available in eight colours.
Dutch floor specialist Bolidt showed off its latest product development at September’s SMM exhibition in Hamburg: a unique flooring product that incorporates smart LED lighting. The idea for illuminated flooring was first developed for helicopter decks on mega yachts but cruise ship interior designers soon became interested in its potential for their ship interior projects.
The resulting floor system can be programmed to show various patterns and its individual LEDs can be controlled, “allowing designers an unprecedented level of creativity,” the company said in its exhibition material. It is just 15-mm thick and the lights are said to be durable enough to last as long as the decks themselves.
Its evolution will continue and next year a further development will be launched, incorporating liquid-based sensors, rather than lights, that react to step-on movement. This could be used to alert crew if someone is out of bounds, if children are playing where they should not be or to detect water leaking in a technical area. The system could also be adapted for more sophisticated applications, such as monitoring passenger movements in muster drills or evacuations, the company said.
This new concept comes at a time when the company has seen an all-time high in retrofit orders, thanks to what it views as a vibrant cruise ship refurbishment market. At the time of writing in late September, its website reported five major ship projects completed so far this year with bookings for a further seven large ship jobs among dozens of projects planned for well into 2019.
Those five major ships were NCL’s Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Star; RCCL vessels Mariner and Independence of the Seas and the Azamara Club Cruises ship Azamara Pursuit. Refurbishment bookings for drydocking later this year and in the first half of 2019 include Norwegian Jewel, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Millennium, Navigator, Oasis of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Carnival Triumph.
The scale of the flooring and deck system upgrades within these projects was extensive but one of the most significant was a major overhaul of Azamara Pursuit, which took place at Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard. Northern Ireland-based company, MJM Group, was awarded a turnkey project for the four-month refit and Bolidt was contracted directly by MJM to carry out the decking upgrade work.
In a note on its website, Bolidt said managing this increased cruise refit work is a “key challenge” because of the volume of work that has to be compressed into an increasingly short drydocking stay. It quotes its maritime division director Jacco van Overbeek saying it sometimes has more than 15,000 m2 of material to install in less than a month. “We have risen to this challenge by increasing our pool of specialist installers and by ‘growing our own’ and promoting employees with the aptitude and a willingness to learn about the practical side of the cruise refit market,” he said.
The company has further responded to the need to boost productivity to deliver projects within tight schedules by developing prefabrication techniques.
Mr Van Overbeek said “This has helped in areas where the complexity of installation in liquid form is simply too great for us to pursue traditional pouring methods. Instead, we have developed innovative, practical applications for resin decking compounds, wherever accessibility for traditional materials, such as teak and tiles, has become prohibitive. In some cases, there are no viable options other than the customised solutions that Bolidt has developed, which puts us in a strong competitive position.”