The problems with connectivity at sea

A good internet connection is fast becoming essential in today’s shipping industry. Operators who don’t stay on top of the latest developments and take advantage of all the benefits they bring are beginning to lose out commercially to those who do.

But connectivity at sea isn’t all plain sailing. Here are some of the problems that you might face – and the solutions offered by the mini-VSAT Broadband.

It has low bandwidth

Connectivity can significantly reduce your operating costs. It enables you to improve fuel consumption, monitor performance, update real-time weather reports and fine-tune your planning. There are also numerous benefits that come from seafarers being able to use their own devices – training, leisure activities and staying in contact with friends and family, for example.

These factors are becoming a standard issue on-board and they all depend on bandwidth. The higher the bandwidth, the greater the advantage to your operations.

In the past, however, bandwidth restrictions and coverage restraints have been a major issue with connectivity at sea. Happily, this is no longer the case. Systems like the mini-VSAT Broadband are able to provide a high-speed data channel with unlimited usage that’s available in a variety of different plans. The high-speed global network delivers speeds as fast as 20/3 Mbps and is perfect for video-conferencing, streaming, entertainment content and the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) which allows the transfer of data without any human interaction whatsoever.

It’s unreliable

You might expect unstable connections, lack of coverage, lapses in service and long delays as your system tries to locate a satellite. A good internet system should take into account these factors and search for overlapping beams that take advantage of redundancy in satellite coverage.

The mini-VSAT Broadband uses the most advanced managed HTS network – the industry leading Ku-band VSAT. It has a coverage of 272 million square kilometres and the system has automatic fast switching between the network’s redundant beams which gives you seamless communications wherever you are in the world. The prioritised voice service has crystal clear call quality and supports Wi-Fi connections between compatible phones.

It also has a much greater resilience to weather and rain fade – important considerations for the extreme and changeable conditions at sea.

It’s complicated

A huge rack of equipment, lengthy installations and being locked into a restrictive long-term contract – these are all things of the past.

With the mini-VSAT Broadband, you get a straightforward one box solution that manages your whole network without lengthy ownership costs. The plan is much more flexible too, just a single monthly subscription that you can easily change or cancel with no penalties or commitment. To help with any technical issues, we offer a global support programme and a two-year parts and labour warranty that you can extend to five years.

It’s expensive

Connectivity doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Installation is free in selected international ports and your airtime options can be adapted to suit the requirements of every kind of operation.

The average person touches their smart phone 2,617 times a day so, to prevent your data usage costs spiralling, our system gives you complete visibility. You can monitor and control the amount of data your crew and equipment are using to make sure you always keep within your budget.

It’s not secure

For all the benefits of being connected at sea, there are dangers too – cyber-attacks can have a devastating effect on your operations. In 2017 the NotPetya ransomware cost Møller-Maersk an estimated £300 million and the company had to reinstall over 45,000 PCs, 4,000 servers and 2,500 applications. This wasn’t even a targeted attack.

Without adequate protection, a determined hacker could penetrate all your operational information including routes, manifests, charts, payroll and employee details. Shipping companies always need to be aware of security and take the necessary precautions.

The mini-VSAT Broadband has a six-level cybersecurity programme which includes an advanced network-level firewall – there’s also automated threat management for extra peace of mind. For breaches caused by human behaviour, it comes with the award-winning KVH Videotel ‘Cybersecurity Safety at Sea’ training programme which has proved invaluable in making sure seafarers are aware of the risks that come with on-board connectivity.

Mini-VSAT Broadband gives you fast, secure, global connectivity with no hassles or hidden costs.

Contact us to find out more.

Gas detection: the hidden costs of third-party servicing

On paper, using a third-party to service your gas detection equipment may seem like a cheap option.

However, there are several important considerations that can be easily overlooked. These factors could end-up costing you significantly more in the long-run.

Maintenance and repair

Because an intermediary won’t have in-depth, intimate knowledge of the systems they’re servicing, potential issues can easily be missed during routine maintenance.

If a problem does develop it will also be more difficult for them to diagnose it. They may have to use trial and error to find out what’s wrong, taking up valuable time and probably resulting in repeat attendances. All of this will cost you extra money that could have been saved by having the equipment serviced by the supplier.

Spares

Guesswork and misdiagnosis can lead to multiple purchases of components and spares that simply aren’t needed.

For example, it’s very common for third-party services to suggest replacing sensors or buying new pumps – both of which are expensive components. However, it’s quite likely that actually, only the consumable components inside the sensors and pumps need purchasing. This a much cheaper option and something that the supplier of the device would be aware of.

Martek assures a first-time fix for issues such as these. We come equipped to cover all eventualities and only use what is absolutely necessary in order to minimise your costs.

3rd party servicing considerations
Are you paying for the hidden cost of a 3rd party service?

Safety

Regardless of how much knowledge and experience a third-party intermediary claim to have, using them is always a risk. Gas detection devices and critical safety systems are simply too important to take chances with.

You could face detention for lack of compliance, or even put the lives of your crew in danger by using someone who hasn’t been trained by the manufacturer to service your equipment.

Training

Your costs will be reduced if your crew fully understand the systems you use. It will allow issues to be identified quicker and more easily so that they only issue RFQs for what’s really necessary.

A third-party intermediary doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to advise your crew whereas Martek offers effective training on the operation of the equipment we provide. This will ultimately help you to keep your long-term costs down.

Warranty

Most gas detection equipment has exclusive components – Martek, for example, has a unique sensor provider. When third-parties can’t source these elements, they end up replacing critical sensors with different, ‘closest fit’ alternatives. This creates a hybrid system that isn’t guaranteed to operate properly. In addition to this, it will no longer be manufacturer approved so your warranty will be voided too.

Upgrades

It’s unlikely that the gas detection equipment you’re using is brand new – it may even have been a while since you looked into the latest available developments.

There are many cost-effective upgrades that could provide numerous benefits to your system by reducing the number of consumable spares or the frequency of services required. Third-party intermediaries may not be aware of these upgrades – or even if they are, they won’t be in a position to provide them to you.

Martek is a world-leader in marine safety with years of experience in gas detection technology. We have a global supply chain to deliver goods quickly and conveniently and we’re always at the forefront of the latest innovative and cost-saving equipment.

Packages

Martek is a one-stop-shop for all your gas detection requirements so we’re in the position to put together a solution that’s designed for you. We offer various packages which include spare parts and calibration gases that will streamline your supply chain, reduce the costs of multiple orders and keep your invoices to a minimum.

The world’s major ship operators trust us to improve their performance and keep their ships and crews safe. You should too.

Contact us to find out more.

Detentions for sewage treatment on the increase

Marine pollution has always been in the spotlight but now, even more attention is being paid to the impact of sewage on the environment. Strict regulations and an increasing focus on compliance is having a big effect on shipping.

A recent bulletin issued by UK P&I Club has highlighted the issue. It reveals that detentions due to sewage are on the rise at an alarming rate.

Detentions

The bulletin concerns recent data released by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) which shows the extent of the problem. So far in 2019, the most common reason for the detention of their vessels was sewage-related.

The deficiencies – generally worded as ‘sewage treatment plant defective’ – could be down to a number of issues. These range from poor maintenance of equipment, inadequate checking of effluence or, in some cases, discharging raw sewage directly into the waters of the port.

Detentions for inadequate sewage treatment are a growing concern for ship operators. In 2018, sewage was also listed as the second most common detainable deficiency in the Tokyo MOU.

MARPOL Annex IV

The legislation that you need to comply with will depend on factors such as the vessel size and type, where it’s operating and when its sewage treatment equipment was installed.

Annex IV is a complex piece of legislation which focusses on the treatment of sewage and the discharge of sewage effluents. We’ve compiled a comprehensive free guide to help clarify all aspects of sewage effluent legislation which applies to commercial shipping vessels.

MARPOL Annex IV applies to ships on international voyages which are over 400 gross tonnage, or those that are less and certified to carry 15 passengers and crew. It contains detailed regulations about the onboard equipment needed to control sewage discharge, the reception facilities that must be provided at ports and terminals, and the requirements for survey and certification.

There are a number of guidelines within MARPOL Annex IV that are worth paying particular attention to in order to avoid detention:

Resolution MEPC.227(64)
This applies to sewage treatment plants installed after 1st January 2016 on ships that are operating outside the ‘special areas’ designated in MARPOL Annex IV (detailed in MEPC.200(62))

Resolution MEPC.159(55)
These are revised guidelines about implementing effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment. They apply to treatment plants installed between 1st January 2010 and 1st January 2016 on vessels that operate inside ‘special areas’.

Resolution MEPC.2(VI)
This contains recommendations for international effluent standards and provides more guidance for performance testing in sewage treatment plants. It applies to equipment installed before 1st January 2010 on ships operating in ‘special areas’.

Inspections

During an inspection, the vessel should be able to demonstrate that it meets all the operational requirements of MARPOL Annex IV when it comes to effluents and sewage treatment. The International Safety Management Code also requires crews to be familiar with sewage treatment systems and maintain up-to-date records.

If a defect is discovered, this must be reported to the appropriate authority at the earliest opportunity. Additionally, you can’t make any changes to the ship’s systems without authorisation from the Flag Administration after an inspection has been conducted.

Essentially, you need to make sure that your sewage treatment processes are always compliant or you risk detention.

A Simple Solution

The amount of legislation can be overwhelming – especially as it’s frequently updated and is likely to get even more stringent in the future. Our new Sewage Water Test Kit offers an easy way to make sure your sewage treatment processes meet the regulations.

It provides you with everything you need to carry out regular testing and doesn’t require any formal training. Everything comes in one kit and the test procedures don’t use any complicated equipment – they’re quick and easy and can be performed by anyone. Its design is based on recommendations from the Department of the Environment and the Water Research Centre so you get only the most vital components that make sure you’re compliant.

Carrying out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage will enable you to identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This will save time and money, and increase your productivity.

Don’t risk detention. Make sure your sewage processing is compliant.

A Guaranteed Compliant Test Solution

What is Reactive Gas?

Carrying effective gas detection equipment – and making sure that equipment is performing accurately – is an essential and potentially life-saving element of shipping. Obviously, the safety of vessels and crews is of paramount importance but, despite the best efforts of the IMO, deaths are still happening at an alarming rate.

Reactive gases in particular present lots of additional dangers. They can also provide extra headaches for operators when it comes to storage and supply.

What are they?

Essentially, reactive gases are much more chemically active than other, more commonly used gases. Their properties change in different atmospheres and they even react with the materials that they come into contact with, especially plastics and moist surfaces.

For this reason, they’re often called ‘sticky’ gases and they present many extra issues when they’re used for gas detection and calibration.

Gas detection

Their higher chemical activity means that they are more easily absorbed by the exposed areas of gas detectors like the housings, adapters and tubing. This depletes the amount available to test in a gas sample so you need to take special care when monitoring.

Using compatible materials and appropriate calibration techniques is therefore essential. Otherwise, the response time will be increased and your readings will be dangerously low.

Storage

Because reactive gases are so chemically active, they even react with the containers that are used to store them. Over time, they will be gradually absorbed by the walls of the cylinders.

To minimise these reactions, reactive gas mixtures come in aluminium canisters – generally available in either 34 or 58 litres – but they still have a limited lifespan. That’s why all cylinders have a shelf life that’s clearly labelled on the outside. Expired calibration gas will no longer provide accurate readings and will be potentially dangerous.

Lifespan

Because of the instability and impurity of the gases used and the relatively poor quality of cylinders within the industry, most calibration gases have a short shelf-life of just 6-12 months. This leads to many problems when it comes to supply.

Gases need to be replaced regularly – regardless of how much remains in the cylinder. In addition to the wastage of gas that’s gone out of date, multiple re-stocking deliveries will need to be arranged for each ship incurring freight costs, dangerous goods charges and customs’/agent’s fees.

Organising multiple deliveries and arranging schedules takes up valuable time. This is further complicated when using several suppliers as quality control can be an issue – different providers will all need to meet the same standards. Organising a reliable supply of calibration gas for a global fleet can prove a troublesome and time consuming process.

Martek’s cylinders

FastCalGas has the highest gas production standards of any calibration gas on the market. We use advanced materials and a mass spectrometer to analyse and verify the quality of every cylinder – in 30,000 deliveries, only two defects have ever been reported. This is a quality yield of over 99.993%.

Because of this, we can offer a 27-month shelf life on all reactive mixtures – a world first in the industry. This makes ordering far less complicated as you can order large stocks up to two years in advance without worrying about co-ordinating supplies that have short expiry dates.

Our cylinders are also recyclable which means that you can sell empties on to recycling companies for roughly $2 each instead of throwing them away. They just need to be prepared first.

The most important part of this preparation is to make sure they’re completely empty of any reactive gas. This will involve drilling a hole in the cylinder – some recycling companies may also require you to cut them in half. The valve also needs to be removed or rendered unusable to prove that the cylinder is no longer pressurised. This can be done quickly and easily with one of the tools that are compatible with all our canisters.

After this, cylinders will no longer classified as dangerous goods and can be recycled as scrap.

The Procurement Process

Our calibration gas inventory management service will enable you to save even more time and money by taking control of your ordering and supply process.

Martek’s service is designed to cut down on carriage and agents’ charges as well as the hidden costs that come from the time spent on administration. It simplifies the process into one order, two years’ supply and one delivery.

We review your usage of calibration gas to determine your requirements and run on-going checks with vessels, contacting each ship to arrange re-stocking after twenty-one months. Simply pass on the inventory of gas detectors on board your fleet or let us contact the ships directly to get the information and we take care of the rest.

You can purchase calibration gas quickly and easily online from anywhere in the world. Our lean order processing and extensive global supply chain means that we have a 4 hour turnaround on quotes and 98% of our orders are shipped within 24 hours.

Stop the hassle and start gaining competitive advantage.

Contact us to find out more.

Marine Sewage Water: The Legislation

The pathogenic organisms, viruses and bacteria present in sewage can cause numerous diseases and infections in humans – not just from direct contact but indirectly from eating the fish that filtrate seawater and retain dangerous particles.

Marine sewage water can also have a devastating effect on sea life as sewage uses up valuable oxygen in the water as it disintegrates. This results in the suffocation of fish, coral, seaweed and other micro-organisms that are essential to the eco-system, particularly in shallow seas and coastal areas.

The problem has long been recognised and reducing marine pollution from sewage was the first ever environmental initiative. Regulations initially came into force over a hundred years ago and since then they have been constantly updated and amended to reflect the changing face of modern shipping.

MARPOL Annex IV

MARPOL Annex IV applies to ships on international voyages which are over 400 gross tonnage, or those that are less and certified to carry 15 passengers and crew. It contains detailed regulations about the onboard equipment needed to control sewage discharge, the reception facilities that must be provided at ports and terminals, and the requirements for survey and certification.

If your vessel is equipped with an approved sewage treatment plant, an approved sewage comminuting and disinfecting system, or a sewage holding tank then you can discharge sewage at a distance of three nautical miles from the nearest land. However, the speed and rate of discharge must still be approved to meet the requirements set out in MEPC.157(55).

In addition to this, there are also designated ‘Special Areas’ (detailed in MEPC.200(62)) that may require further tests depending on the type of your vessel.

ISPCC

Vessels visiting countries that have ratified to MARPOL Annex IV need a relevant ISPCC – an International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate. This is issued after a successful inspection and is valid for five years. If you don’t have an ISPCC or your sewage treatment facilities fail the inspection, your ship could end up facing detention.

What you need to do

You have to make sure that your sewage treatment plant is installed in a way that enables effluent test samples to be collected. This sampling should be carried out in accordance with the regulations.

A minimum of forty samples should be collected to allow for statistical analysis of the data. The frequency of testing should take into account the length of time the effluent is sitting in the treatment plant and the test period should take a minimum of 10 days so that the discharge can enter a stabilisation period. The samples should also reflect normal conditions – the type of system, the number of people on-board and the operational processes involved.

Simple Solution

Pollution from marine sewage water has always been in the spotlight so new regulations are continually being introduced to try and control it. The legislation that applies to you will depend on factors such as your vessel size and type, where you’re operating and when your sewage treatment equipment was installed.

The amount of legislation can be overwhelming so our new Sewage Water Test Kit offers an easy way to make sure you’re always compliant. We’ve also created a free ebook to help clarify the key elements that you need to know.

Your ebook will cover:

  • Terminology & Definitions
  • Why Test Sewage Effluents
  • Effluent Testing Legislation
  • Quick Guide To The Required Testing
  • Sewage Effluent Test Kits
  • The Martek Sewage Effluent Test Kit

[Download]

The procedures are quick and simple to perform and don’t use complicated equipment so they’re suitable for everyone to use. The tests are based on those recommended by the Department of the Environment and the Water Research Centre and provide you with only the most vital components that will allow you to carry out essential quality control checks.

This will save time and money and increase your productivity – if you carry out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage, you can identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This is much more efficient than waiting until a problem develops as repairing faults or being detained will have a major impact on your operations.

Making sure you meet regulations for effluent testing needn’t be complicated or expensive.

For guaranteed compliance, contact us today

 

Why your hatch testing needs to be accurate

Over 40% of all P&I claims are due to damaged cargo. Water ingress from hatch covers makes up the majority of these claims – even small amounts of water can cause extensive damage.

Every year, the North of England P&I club has three to four claims of between $500,000 and $1,000,000 for water-damaged cargoes resulting from hatch cover defects. Tony Baker, head of the club’s risk management department said: ‘The cost of preventing these losses can usually be measured in a few thousand dollars or less. Often all that is necessary is the replacement of some defective rubber seals, some minor repairs to steelwork or sometimes just cleaning down a coaming.’

Hatch covers are the responsibility of the ship’s owners and operators, so you need to pay close attention to them to make sure that your cargo is protected. Regular checking and maintenance is much cheaper and more effective than major repairs or incidents caused by neglect.

Testing Methods

Water hose testing and chalk testing are the two most common methods for checking hatch covers. While water hose testing can detect a leak, it can’t accurately pinpoint exactly where the problem’s coming from – and it won’t work in sub-zero conditions either. There’s also the added complication of making sure any cargo contained in the hold is adequately protected from the water used in the test.

Chalk testing doesn’t have some of these limitations but it isn’t considered to be a leak detection test as it only gives an indication of poor compression and possible leaks. It’s not effective in identifying weathertight integrity so it might not be acceptable to many external surveyors.

Ultrasonic Testing

This is the most accurate way to ensure your hatches are functioning correctly. A transmitter in the cargo hold emits ultrasound waves which are then picked up by a receiver outside the closed hatch. Unlike water hose and chalk tests, ultrasonic testing indicates when you have the required compression and gives you the precise location of any leakages. In addition to this, the equipment is easy to store and use, only needs one operator and doesn’t rely on the cargo hold being emptied.

However, just like any piece of technical equipment, there are some extra factors that need to be considered to ensure that your ultrasonic testing device is operating effectively.

Calibration

Ship operators and P&I clubs need to be sure that the equipment used for testing is behaving consistently every time, so readings taken by devices that are not calibrated are open to being rendered invalid. This could jeopardise potential insurance claims as, in a court of law, any results from equipment not shown to be in calibration could be disputed and disallowed.

Calibrating Hatchtite

Hatchtites are made to a very exacting standard so that their performance will not deteriorate quickly over time. Each device will give exactly the same correct and consistent readings, regardless of the specific device that’s being used. This is particularly important when comparing results that have been logged over a long period.

If properly cared for, a Hatchtite will also last for five years before they require re-calibration – the longest time period for an ultrasonic hatch testing device in the industry. After five years, it should be returned to make sure that:

– All components are clean and working in good order

– Any components that are approaching the end of their lives can be replaced or repaired

– The transmitter and receiver are tested to make sure the decibel readings are accurate

– Any relevant updates are implemented.

HATCHTITE Calibration

Calibrating your Hatchtite will ensure that you’ll always be able to test your hatches efficiently and reduce the risk of losing your cargo.

Contact us to find out more.

A Quick Guide to Sewage Effluent Testing

Sewage Effluent Testing

Sewage pollution from shipping has always been in the spotlight. Without comprehensive checks on Sewage Effluent, it can have catastrophic effects on the environment and the wellbeing of both human and aquatic life. To combat this, Sewage Effluent regulations have been in effect for over a hundred years and they will continue to get more and more stringent in the future as public awareness grows.

However, some of the terminology and procedures involved with sewage effluent testing can seem impenetrable to anyone not familiar with the inside of a laboratory. To help with this we’ve put together a quick guide to help with the key elements that you need to know.

We’ve also compiled an ebook, ‘A Guide To Marine Sewage Effluent Testing’ which explores the topic, regulations and solutions in more detail. If you would like to claim a free copy please fill in this form

PV

The Permanganate Value (PV) helps to determine the oxygen requirement of sewage and sewage effluent before it’s discharged. The waste can then be classified to make sure it’s within the necessary limits.

The PV test is designed to show the oxidation of organic material that occurs in natural waters by using potassium permanganate under acidic conditions to accelerate the process. The measurement is usually represented as the quantity of oxygen consumed per litre of water: mg/L O2 or ppm O2.

COD, BOD and TOC

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) measures the amount of dissolved oxygen needed to break down the organic material in a water sample.

The Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) is similar – both measure the presence of compounds – but the BOD value is more detailed as it provides a value for the oxygen needed specifically by bacteria. The higher the BOD value, the larger the amount of food available for oxygen-consuming organisms.

TOC stands for Total Organic Carbon and measures the amount of decaying matter in water. It has been used to analyse water quality and sewage effluent since the early 1970s.

You can estimate a sample’s COD, BOD and TOC values by converting the results of the PV test. Although the results are not definitive, it’s a simplified and low-cost way of carrying out the most essential quality control checks.

pH

Chemical and biological reactions in sewage greatly depend on the amount of acid or alkaline present – the pH. Therefore, regular checks on the pH in your sewage effluent are essential.

These tests are carried out with a Universal test tablet and a printed colour strip that covers a pH range between four and ten. The expected level for your sewage effluents should fall between six and eight.

Free, Combined and Total Chlorine

Chlorine is useful for disinfection as it kills bacteria and viruses – it’s been used in water treatment since the early 1900s. However, it can have a harmful effect on the environment and marine life when released in wastewater.

Free Chlorine is residual chlorine contained in water either as dissolved gas, acid or ions. Combined Chlorine is the concentration of chlorine that has already gone through a chemical reaction – usually with ammonia or organic materials. The Total Chlorine is made up of both of these measurements together.

Bacteria Plate Test
As bacteria aren’t generally visible to the naked eye, a plate test is a way to estimate how many are present in a water sample.

It uses a plate containing a nutrient which allows bacteria to colonise and grow. These will show as a red colour which can then be counted. By using a specific measured amount as a sample, you can then scale up the results to infer the overall content of the effluent.

E.Coli

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type of bacteria found in the stomachs of humans and other warm-blooded animals. There are many different strains – most of which are harmless – but some can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever and vomiting. It can also be fatal for people with weakened immune systems. Checking for E.Coli in sewage effluent is therefore vital.

Testing works in a similar way to the bacterial plate. You take a sample, add specially designed chemicals and then wait for the results which will be either positive or negative. If they’re positive, you should super-chlorinate your water supply and seek further guidance.

Turbidity and Suspended Solids

The turbidity of liquid means how clear it is. Individual particles of suspended solids will cause water to lose its transparency and become murky in a similar way to smoke in the air.

The suspended solids may not be visible to the naked eye so testing the turbidity will give a measure of their content. The test will also keep you informed about the day to day variations in the quality of your wastewater and sewage effluent.

The Royal Commission Standards for Effluents recommend that the suspended solids content of sewage effluent should not be more than 30 mg/l.

Temperature

Sewage Effluent discharge should always be as close as possible to ambient temperatures as some biological processes are dependent on heat. Chemical reactions – as well as marine life – are very sensitive to even minor variations in temperature.

Checking the temperature of your wastewater is particularly important when it comes to industrial processes as well as the use of hot water in showers, dishwashers, washing machines and other regular domestic appliances.

Sewage Test Kit

If you carry out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage, you can identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This is much more efficient than waiting until a problem develops as repairing faults could have a major impact on your operations.

The equipment in our onboard Sewage Effluent Kit makes sure you meet the regulations in the most simple and effective way possible – the tests are based on those recommended by the Department of the Environment and the Water Research Centre.

The kit provides you with only the most vital components that will allow you to carry out essential quality control checks, saving you time and money and increasing your productivity. The procedures are quick and easy to perform and don’t use complicated equipment so they’re suitable for everyone to use.

Testing your sewage effluent needn’t be complicated or expensive. Martek’s Sewage Effluent Kit makes it easy.

Contact us to find out more.

 

Confined Space Entry: U.S. Coast Guard Warns After Three Die Of Asphyxiation

The danger of confined spaces is in the news again after three crew members died of asphyxiation on a drilling rig.

They were part of a ten man team preparing equipment for heavy lift transport. After a de-ballasting system failed, they rigged a portable diesel engine pump to discharge tanks. Unfortunately, the hatches used for ventilation were inadequate and one of the crew collapsed after being overcome by fumes while supervising the operation.

The second and third victims died while attempting to rescue him after descending into the enclosed space without safety equipment. The Captain and Ship Superintendent narrowly escaped and were airlifted to hospital.

This is sadly typical of enclosed space fatalities and is similar to other recent accidents in Japan, UK, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia.

Because many toxic gases are colourless and odourless, it can be easy to miss the danger signals, especially if you’re under stress or focused on a complicated task. Rescuers are commonly the next victims as they react quickly – and usually in a state of panic – so they don’t follow essential safety procedures or use the necessary equipment. Studies suggest that over 50% of the deaths in confined spaces are the result of crew members attempting to rescue colleagues.

This latest incident has prompted the US Coast Guard to issue a Marine Safety Alert about the dangers of confined spaces. They advise:

  • Obtaining the requisite level of knowledge and training of confined space entry procedures including emergency and rescue procedures
  • Ensuring crews undergo periodic confined space training and participate in routine and practical onboard emergency drills
  • Verifying that all required confined space entry and rescue safety equipment is onboard, maintained, tested and fully functional
  • Continually appreciating the dangers involved in confined space entry and educating yourself by further study.

Modern vessels contain more enclosed spaces than ever before. This, combined with the pressures of larger loads, smaller crews and tighter turnaround times, means that deaths in confined spaces are still happening despite the IMO’s attempts to prevent them. The latest regulations require all SOLAS applicable vessels to carry portable gas detectors for monitoring enclosed spaces:

“Every ship to which Chapter 1 applies shall carry an appropriate portable atmosphere testing instrument or instruments. As a minimum, these shall be capable to measuring concentrations of oxygen, flammable gases or vapours, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide. Instruments carried under other requirements may satisfy this regulation. Suitable means shall be provided for the calibration of all such instruments.”

Effective gas detectors and calibration instruments are essential on all cargo vessels. This equipment should also be as versatile and easy to use as possible so that all crew members are protected.

Contact us to find out more about keeping your crews safe in confined spaces.

10 reasons why you should be testing your sewage water

Marine pollution from sewage has always been one of the world’s most prominent ecological problems – in fact, reducing it was the first ever environmental initiative. New technology and regulations have been developing for over a century and will continue to do so in the future.

Here are ten reasons why testing sewage on your vessels is so important and how the new Sewage Effluent Testing Kit from Martek can help.

1.) Sewage water testing helps avoid health hazards

The pathogenic organisms, viruses and bacteria present in sewage can cause salmonella and hepatitis A and E as well as numerous gastrointestinal diseases and infections. Indirect contact is also harmful as many marine creatures filtrate seawater, retaining the dangerous particles which may then be passed on to those who eat them.

2.) Sewage water testing helps limit marine pollution

As well as the deeply unpleasant visual impact, sewage is also extremely damaging to sea-life – particularly in shallow seas and coastal areas. Because it uses up valuable oxygen in the water as it disintegrates, it can result in the suffocation of fish, coral, seaweed and micro-organisms essential to the eco-system

3.) Sewage effluent testing reduces downtime

If you carry out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage, you can identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This is much more efficient than waiting until a problem develops as this may result in your system being out of action while it’s repaired.

4.) Sewage effluent testing reduces costs

Downtime means your vessel isn’t operating at maximum profitability. Repairing faults with your sewage system could have a major impact on your operations, something that can be easily avoided with regular testing.

5.) Sewage water testing ensures you’re compliant

More and more attention is being paid to sewage and its effects. This has resulted in more stringent quality standards and regulations – and these are likely to get even more comprehensive soon. A good sewage testing kit will keep you compliant with current legislation as well as helping to make sure you’re prepared for future changes.

6.) Testing your sewage is easy

The Sewage Effluent Kit from Martek provides a means of checking quality by using simplified methods of testing. To reduce wastage and keep your costs at a minimum, the kit contains only the most vital components that will allow you to carry out essential quality control checks.

7.) It’s quick to carry out a sewage water test

The kit provides simple tests for Permanganate Value, Ph, Suspended Solids, Probable BOC (Biochemical Oxygen Demand), COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) and TOC (Total Organic Carbon). The tests provide measurements rapidly to keep your time and your costs down.

8.) Our Sewage Effluent Kit adds on to your existing Martek equipment

If you’re already using DrinkSafe for your potable water, the sewage testing kit fits alongside it for a complete water testing solution – the first and only combined package on the market.

9.) It’s familiar to existing Martek customers

There’s no formal training required for water analysis and, because your crew already know how DrinkSafe works, the procedure for testing sewage will be quick and easy for them to pick up. The tests are simple to perform and don’t use complicated equipment so they’re suitable for everyone to use.

10.) It’s from a supplier you can trust

Martek Marine is renowned for its expertise in ship safety and crew welfare and has a reputation that’s recognised across the globe. The world’s major ship operators trust our products to keep their ships and crew safe and improve their performance.

Martek’s Sewage Effluent Kit is the best on the market for value and quality. It will save you time and money and increase productivity.

Contact us to find out more.

The Problem with Portable Gas Detectors

Making sure your crew and your vessel are always safe from harmful gases is vital, so a portable gas detector is an important piece of equipment. However, there are many issues with the instruments that can cost you time and money if you don’t have the right kit.

Here are some of the problems – and the solutions offered by the MGC Simple+.

Battery life and charging


Traditional portable gas detectors have a pellistor/catalytic bead LEL sensor which uses a heated aluminium coil. It’s this element, in particular, that’s responsible for draining large amounts of power. Instead of the pellistor sensor, The MGC Simple+ uses a low-powered infrared light source which greatly reduces the drain on the battery – it’s like switching an incandescent light bulb for an energy efficient LED bulb.

The power saving is enough for the MGC Simple+ to last 3 years without charging. It works straight from the box and will easily allow for a bump test and a 1.5-minute alarm every day of its life.

Calibrating
Calibration and bump testing are crucial in traditional detectors because, over time, their performance becomes slower and gradually more unresponsive. This is down to the pellistor sensor which is susceptible to poisoning by many things, including the gases they are actually detecting. Once the sensor is no longer efficient, it needs to be replaced – a costly process which will leave your instrument out of action. You will also need extra equipment to cover gas detection while this work is being carried out.

Infrared sensors are completely immune to poisoning so this isn’t an issue with the Marine MGC Simple+ – there’s no need to calibrate at all.

However, some risk assessments and safe systems of work do specify that instruments must be calibrated. The MGC Simple+ can be set up to do this easily using one button operated dock which is capable of testing four detectors at the same time. This takes around 40 seconds and uses only around a quarter of the gas you need for individual calibration.

Working in inert environments

Pellistor sensors need a minimum of 10% oxygen in the environment – any lower and the readings may be inaccurate. Infrared doesn’t need oxygen, so the MGC Simple+ will work in completely inert atmospheres. This makes it ideal for confined space detection and taking samples from tanks where lack of oxygen is an issue.

Data Logging

Traditional portable gas detectors will log events, but many won’t log data. Data logging is important for all instruments as the gathering of information helps to improve safety and inform the investigation of incidents. The MGC Simple+ logs data every second and records the last 25 bumps, calibrations and events.

Repair Costs


As instruments get older, they begin to develop faults with their components – backlights, screens, sounders etc – they will all have to be repaired eventually. By the time a detector gets to three years old, most of the sensors will be reaching the end of their life and will need replacing.

The MGC Simple+ comes with a full three-year warranty, so you’ll never incur extra repair costs. At the end of those three years, you simply replace the whole instrument – a cheaper option than spending money maintaining an old detector. Buying a new instrument means you’ll also have a new three-year warranty so the instrument will always be covered.

The MGC Simple+ is the world’s first ‘NO calibration’ portable multi-gas detector.

NO calibration. NO charging. NO cost.

Contact us to find out more.