Demand for environmentally sustainable water-lubricated and grease-free bearings and seals has increased dramatically in the US and Latin American inland waterways market as more and more workboat operators look to renew their fleets in line with environmental rules and regulations.
The shift towards more environmentally sustainable equipment is indicative in the increased interest Thordon Bearings has registered across its workboat portfolio, with the Canadian company reporting a large increase in orders for its water-lubricated RiverTough tailshaft bearings over the past three years. Orders for the company’s grease-free, self-lubricating ThorPlas Blue bearings, TG100 shaft seals, and pucker seals have also seen similar growth.
Speaking during the International Workboat Show, in New Orleans, Jason Perry, Thordon’s Regional Manager, North America, said: “With much of the inland waterways (IWW) fleet in the Americas comprised of relatively old vessels, environmental upgrades make good sense. And with waterborne freight on the increase, a whole new generation of more sustainable workboats is set to expand the fleet as environmental priorities and ESG issues in inland waterway operations climb the agenda. Owners are embracing the environmental and commercial benefits Thordon can bring to inland waterway operations.”
Perry furthered: “Our workboat solutions not only meet the environmental targets set by vessel owners, but they are also popular with shipyards since the bearing material is much easier to machine and faster to fit than traditional rubber and greased bronze solutions. A Thordon system reduces the operational and maintenance spend, improves system reliability, and removes the oil and grease-free interface between vessel and water.”
While market demand for Thordon products in the US is significant, it is the LATAM region where Thordon has registered its largest growth in the IWW sector over three years.
Commenting on the success, Scott Groves, Thordon Bearings Vice President – Sales, said: “We have seen a marked increase in interest for more environmentally safe solutions across the Americas, particularly for RiverTough bearings and TG100 seals, as the sector looks to renew its fleet with more efficient solutions.
“We have been able to meet this market demand by investing in new warehousing and inventory capability. We have established a robust supply chain so that all products are available at key locations across the inland waterway network, whenever and wherever our customers require them. And that is a key selling point to IWW operators for whom any delay or downtime is a costly exercise.”