When the RMS Titanic was first put into service on 2 April 1912, it was the largest ship in the world and was set to mark the start of a new era of travel on passenger ships. The ship sank just twelve days later – an event which is still considered to be one of the biggest maritime disasters of all time. To mark the anniversary of this great tragedy, I spoke to Holger Steinke, Heavy Engines Key Account Manager in the Industrial Filtration business Segment.
Birgit Schwegmann: Mr Steinke, what has the sinking of the Titanic got to do with our product range?
Holger Steinke: The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 was the catalyst for the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
This convention, which was introduced to set minimum standards for safety on board ships, is now maintained by the IMO (International Maritime Organisation), a specialised agency of the United Nations. SOLAS forms the basis for the extensive classification regulations implemented by classification societies such as Germanischer Lloyd and Bureau Veritas, which together form the equivalent of an MOT for ships.
The societies check that a ship complies with the necessary safety regulations. If not, the ship cannot be insured, and therefore cannot be operated either.
SOLAS therefore has a significant effect on the products we develop, as it also sets minimum requirements for filters.
Birgit Schwegmann: What exactly are the SOLAS requirements for filters?
Holger Steinke: To comply with SOLAS, the design of all filter heads must be such that they can be changed even when the ship is still moving. For example, to replace the right-hand spin-on filter, you simply switch over to the left-hand spin-on filter, directing all fuel to this filter for as long as it takes to complete the replacement. This means you can replace the filter without having to switch off the engine.
SOLAS also restricts the material selection process: for instance metals with a melting point of less than 925°C cannot be used, which rules out aluminium as the material for the filter head.
There are also stringent safety requirements that affect the dimensions of the filters, as is evident in the thickness of the sheet metal used for the filter housing.
Birgit Schwegmann: So do the filters in our products already comply with SOLAS?
Holger Steinke: Some of the filters within our portfolio are already compatible with SOLAS requirements, particularly those developed in line with particular customer specifications in the past. For instance, our Marine PreLine 1201 fuel prefilter has type approval from Germanischer Lloyd and is based largely on components that we already had available.
We are also currently working with leading engine manufacturers as pilot customers to develop a filter head for our spin-on filters in size 13, as well as a SOLAS-compatible centrifuge series.
Alongside this, we have launched a number of activities to expand and fine-tune our range of products for the maritime sector. Why not take a look at the overview here:
Mr. Steinke, thank you very much for this fascinating insight into our product Portfolio!