A testing issue
For rubber fenders, PIANC suggests that a minimum of 10% of the order quantity are selected for performance verification tests. For foam fenders, there is no such requirement. Instead, for foam fender purchases, buyers are left to assume that true performance always aligns with that stated in the manufacturer’s catalogue. In reality, this cannot be true, as performance of foam fenders relies on the manufacturing process as well as the raw materials used, as in the case of rubber fenders.
Unfortunately, many foam fenders, especially the larger ones, are not tested. Therefore, there is a sense of doubt around their performance. This may be one of the reasons foam fenders are still not the preferred solution for critical offshore ship-to-ship applications.
In the absence of PIANC guidelines, many projects specify foam fender testing using BS ISO 17357 and the ASTM F2192 standard. However, while ASTM F2192 provides a general guideline broadly covering all types of fenders, no foam specific procedures are outlined. In addition, BS ISO 17357 mainly covers the testing of pneumatic fenders.
Additionally, current industry practice is to just report the performance data for the first or third compression. However, these compressions may not always prove representative of real performance.
Therefore, foam fender testing in the absence of a standard test protocol, is arbitrary. This theory is substantiated by recent research from Trelleborg that proves foam fender testing and reporting procedures need serious review, and as such Trelleborg is calling for a sea change in current industry practices. These changes can raise the bar for the quality of foam fenders used in critical applications, globally.