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A smoothly run operation

Implementing automatic lubrication on supply ships

Lubrication is crucial for many components aboard ships. But especially for offshore supply vessels with winches and cranes, it can be a time-consuming task. Automatic lubrication can reduce time spent lubricating by up to 90 percent compared with manual methods.

Supply vessels face numerous challenges. Not only do they work in some of the most extreme weather conditions, such as blistering heat and icy waters, but they also have limited downtime between jobs. This makes it even more important that standard components are maintained frequently and effectively.

Challenges for supply ships

Thor Ltd. is a shipping company that specializes in supply ships. Its headquarters are located in the Faroe Islands and its fleet is deployed throughout the world. The company’s supply ships support operations in locations such as Angola and Greenland. They are often working for weeks at a time which can be an endurance test for both man and machine.

The loads that supply ships transport are frequently heavy, making thorough care of winches crucial. At regular intervals, the crew must lubricate the steel cable to reduce friction and minimize wear. Frequent lubrication is important as the fleet often has a full schedule and cannot afford downtime. This is especially challenging when freezing conditions or rough seas interfere with work.

Lubricating a wire rope to a higher standard can double its service life.

Automatic lubrication boosts safety

When it comes to wire rope maintenance, Thor Ltd. utilizes a tool that makes things much easier for the crew. Where once the lubricant would have to be applied manually, sometimes to ropes that are several hundred meters in length, this task is now handled by an automatic lubrication system. The system can easily be operated by every crew member from the knuckleboom crane or the winch.

These lubricators are particularly valuable for Thor Ltd. because the company places huge value on safety for the sea, the oil rig, and, above all, the crew. Crew members are at significantly less risk of injury  should the wire rope become defective.

Thor Ltd. ensures that safety is always to the highest standard and structures its entire company philosophy around this. Based in the Faroe Islands, the shipping company provides a comprehensive range of off-shore support services to the maritime industry. The Thor Ltd. company vision is “to be the best service partner in the North Atlantic”. For more information, please visit the Thor Ltd. Website.

Two issues, one solution

Automatic lubrication systems offer an additional benefit. When grease is applied by hand, it can be unevenly distributed. This means that the consumption of the lubricant is high and that the rope may be inadequately protected against wear. An automatic system spreads the lubricant more evenly on the steel cable. A newly developed groove cleaner also cleans used lubricant off the wire rope  before applying the new protective coating.

Thor Ltd. has already implemented the system on five of its eleven ships. Consequently, the shipping company minimizes the potential risk to crew members with a single tool, while increasing profitability. By lubricating a wire rope more effectively, its lifespan can be doubled.

In 2016, SKF launched a product specifically designed for this task. The Lincoln Wire Rope Lubricator (WRL) delivers highly effective lubrication in virtually any application using wire rope, including oil and gas rigs, wharf and ship cranes, deck winches, ship hoists, remotely operated vehicles and winding machines in mines. The WRL is available in a range of models for use with any wire rope up to 52mm in size.

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