Container Terminal DCT Gdańsk (Poland) and Port of Immingham (UK) Adopt Fibrelite’s Heavy-Duty Composite Access Covers to Increase Safety and Efficiency
Traditionally concrete and metal were the only materials able to provide the load ratings required for port access covers, but since Fibrelite’s development of a 90 tonne (F900) load rated lightweight GRP alternative, increasing numbers of ports are going composite.
An inherent resistance to corrosion from saltwater and fuel and safe manual handling at high load ratings make composites an attractive solution for portside applications.
Health and safety in today’s workplace is becoming an ever increasing concern with manual handling accounting for over a third of all workplace injuries. [HSE] The majority of these injuries are caused by the handling of loads. HSE and NHS have comprehensive advise to prevent manual handling injuries, most of which relates to safe lifting technique and practices. Unfortunately, a number of everyday activities in workplaces don’t allow for these to be put into practice. A leading example is removing and replacing traditional access covers.
Composites Offer Light Safe Alternative
Fibrelite is delighted to announce that we are launching our new branding this week as the first stage of our new global brand positioning. We have continued to grow and evolve through dedication to our core values of quality and innovation into a brand whose name is synonymous with product excellence, innovation and great customer service.
Fibrelite has led the way in composite technology since 1980 with the design of the world’s first composite manhole cover as a prototype for Esso UK to eliminate health and safety issues associated with traditional heavy metal covers. From there, Fibrelite grew as the retail petroleum industry adopted our covers as the industry standard, now selling to over 80 countries worldwide with manufacturing facilities on three continents, then were acquired by OPW (a Dover company) in 2013.
This commitment to innovation continues to drive our approach today and shape tomorrow, as we create bespoke solutions that reflect our global reputation and heritage.
As the experts in our field, we have access to a collaborative worldwide network with almost limitless skills, resources and experience. This breadth of knowledge allows us to consistently deliver forward-thinking, cutting-edge solutions at scale and speed.
Considering the myriad successes of recent years, Fibrelite decided that it was time to innovate our brand itself as a reflection of our new market positioning on a global scale as part of OPW and Dover, whilst maintaining our commitment to innovation as we continue to grow into an increasing number of new industries.
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We have just completed a new European Technical Guide for our trench cover offering!
This guide takes you through our wide range of trench covers and the available options for different sizes, spans and load ratings and how they are installed, whether into our frames, or an existing rebate.
In addition to being far less conductive than metal or cast iron covers, Fibrelite’s composite covers allow electromagnetic (EMI) or radio frequency (RF) signals to pass directly through them. This allows engineers to install sensors and other devices inside a manhole that can then communicate to a receiver or network located aboveground. Fibrelite’s covers provide no interference to the signal, allowing wireless transmission to pass uninterrupted to the surface.
Composite covers are also being used in wireless electric vehicle charging systems that are designed to be installed underground in parking lots. These systems will transmit power to the car battery parked overhead via an electric coil placed inside a composite manhole cover – this method of transmitting power allows for much faster vehicle charging than traditional cable charging as there is no power lost due to the resistance of the cable. For more information please click here.
Trenwa, a leading manufacturer of precast concrete trench systems, has recently installed its first Fibrelite trench covers in an electrical switchyard near the Sabic Innovative Plastics manufacturing facility in Indiana. This follows the announcement of Fibrelite’s new line of composite trench lids designed specifically for Trenwa’s pre-cast concrete road crossing trench.
The previously installed trench lids were made of steel, an extremely heavy material causing risk of injury during removal. Trenwa’s partnership with Fibrelite presented an opportunity for the switchyard to consider using a lighter weight alternative.
Demand for Composites Increases as Industries Look for Safer Material Alternative to Conventional Access Covers
Composite materials are in huge demand as industries across the globe are experiencing hazards and injuries when using traditional steel and other metal products. Reports of crushed and amputated fingers and toes along with burns, back injuries and other dangers have given industries ranging from data centers to water treatment plants a reason to seek safer alternatives. According to the 2014/15 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3,675 incidences of reported injuries within the manufacturing industry alone. 32% of these incidences were reported as back injuries which has led to a total of 125,880 missed working days.
This has caused major problems for decision makers as legislation continues to restrict acceptable manual weights. Composites are an ideal solution to these problems due to their lightweight yet durable properties. By using lighter materials such as composites, operational injuries are prevented, work sites are made safer and ease of installation and maintenance is made available to utility workers and contractors.
Hazards and Injuries
Composites and Covers
Designed to be a ‘fit-and-forget’ product, Fibrelite’s FRP composite manhole covers and modular trench panels come in all load ratings from A15 to F900 and are maintenance-free, durable and very strong as a matter of course. But did you know that they can also help eliminate a number of common – and often quite serious – health and safety issues?
Best Strength to Weight Ratio
Fibrelite composite access covers are highly-engineered and manufactured here in the UK. Independent testing to BS EN 124 criteria demonstrates that they also surpass the relevant class conditions for deflection under load and this commitment to product excellence means Fibrelite covers have the very best strength to weight ratio available in the market today.
Safer Manual Handling
By definition the majority of access covers are lifted, sometimes frequently. And while traditional metal or concrete covers are heavy and may even require specialist equipment making lifting time-consuming and expensive; composites are different. David Holmes, Fibrelite Technical Director, explained: “As well as being lightweight – typically a third of the weight of metal or concrete – our covers are designed for safe lifting, having up to two lifting points for ergonomic lifting handles which means that just one or two operatives can move them quickly and easily without risk of back injury or crushed fingers or toes, even at the heavier load ratings.”
No risk of Lacerations from Rust
Composite covers also have an inherent resistance to corrosion so are an obvious choice where water, wastewater or corrosive liquids are involved. This also makes them ideal where underground infrastructure requires protection from external corrosive compounds such as salt. So it stands to reason that by choosing a composite cover you are avoiding the risk of lacerations or slips, trips and potentially serious falls that can result when metal or concrete covers rust or crumble.
As every Health & Safety Manager knows, slips, trips and falls constitute the majority of general accidents so non-slip treads can be moulded into Fibrelite covers during manufacture. Independent testing has demonstrated that these covers exceed the advisory regulations even when wet - as Holmes confirmed: “Our finished covers exceed the minimum slip resistance requirement of BS EN124/PAS26, HA104/09: Part 5 and the UK HSE minimum slip resistance guidelines when tested in accordance with BS EN13036-4:2011. This makes them a safer alternative to concrete or metal whatever the weather conditions.”
No risk of Theft
There is no risk of theft with a Fibrelite composite cover as composites have no resale value in the scrap market - so you won’t be left with a dangerous, uncovered hole in the ground. Locks and restraining bolts are also available for added security. And as the covers can be moulded in virtually any colour or colour combination they can be colour-coded to identify specific underground services and ensure the right trench is opened first time.
Avoiding Electrostatic Discharge
Electrostatic discharge always needs to be properly controlled in the workplace and especially in areas that are also open to the public. Potential electrostatic discharging can be eliminated by using a fully conductive composite cover which uses a metalized fibre within the moulding process to achieve electrical continuity across the entire surface of the cover. Holmes said: “Our fully conductive covers exceed the surface resistivity requirements of PAS26 and while the standard calls for a maximum value of 1 KΩ/cm², our covers achieve a value of 0.0144 KΩ/cm².”
Avoiding Hot Metal or Steam Burns
In some industries, such as thermal energy, metal access covers can get very hot as they conduct nearly all the heat below through to their surface resulting in potential dangerous conditions at ground level. The thermal gradient properties of a composite steam cover significantly reduce the risk of burns as the surface temperature is typically only ever slightly above ambient temperature. In fact, the best high-quality Fibrelite steam covers maintain their cool-to-touch properties and ability to support vehicular loads even when pushed to a test temperature of 400°F (2040C).
Holmes concluded: “The majority of first-time enquirers often know quite a lot about composites in terms of practicalities but are often pleasantly surprised to learn just how many of those benefits also make them the safer choice for replacement works or new projects.”