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New Coating: Lighter, Longer Lasting Ropes

Ropes for modern tugs

07 June 2013 - With the advent of bigger, more powerful and more responsive harbor tugs, the demands placed on the ropes they use to do their work have increased. And that creates a problem, because it means stronger ropes. And stronger ropes are bigger and weigh more.

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Lanko®Force Towing Ropes made with Dyneema®


As Lankhorst commercial director Steven Wardenier colorfully points out in this video about his company’s new rope coating, “Modern tugs are more like Ferraris than tractors.” In other words, they react faster to the tug master’s commands, so placing greater demands on the ropes they use. Factor in the trend towards two- and three-person crews, and increasingly the situation is one crewmember, alone on deck, having to rapidly manhandle a steel rope that weighs in at an unwieldy 14kg per meter (roughly 30lbs per yard).

"Modern tugs are more like Ferraris than tractors." ‐ Steven Wardenier, Lankhorst commercial director

Same strength, seven times lighter

Which is where a new rope from maritime rope and cable manufacturer Lankhorst Ropes and DSM Dyneema comes in. Called Lanko®Force, it’s a 12-strand braided rope forerunner (or pendant) made of Dyneema® yarns that is as strong as a comparable steel rope while being a massive seven times lighter.

Using Dyneema® in ropes for the towage industry is not new, of course. What is new is a fiber rope forerunner with no protective jacket. As Wardenier explained in a keynote presentation at the Tugnology ‘13 Conference, in London, Lankhorst Ropes and DSM Dyneema have developed an abrasion-resistant coating that provides a viable alternative to protective jacketing for HMPE (high modulus polyethylene) forerunner tow ropes. The low-friction, non-sticky ICO-DYN 20 coating is applied to the rope during production, creating a tough protective film on the outer layer of the rope. The only place where a protective jacket is still used is in the high-wear area of the eye splice.

Longer lasting, less maintenance

As everyone in the towage industry knows, fiber rope forerunners face heavy wear during towing and handling operations. And while traditional jacketing does protect the rope, the downside is that the rope is difficult to inspect and has to be taken out of service for repair whenever the jacket is damaged. With ICO-DYN 20-coated ropes, that’s not the case. Instead, the new coating significantly improves the rope’s ability to resist the effects of abrasion and increases rope service life. No jacket also means that the Lanko®Force ropes require less maintenance and are easier to inspect, while other benefits include faster and safer handling leading to shorter turnaround times and a safer working environment both on the tug as well as on the vessel under tow.

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