Arctic Range of Liferafts Introduced

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

July 29, 2015

The heating blanket developed by SurvitecZodiac makes all of its liferafts suitable for Arctic use (Photo: Survitec)

The heating blanket developed by SurvitecZodiac makes all of its liferafts suitable for Arctic use (Photo: Survitec)

Ship operators working in polar regions can now equip vessels with liferafts from the SurvitecZodiac range that have been manufactured to meet Arctic operating conditions. This follows SurvitecZodiac’ development of a heating system that can be specified to keep any one of the nearly 60 different liferaft models in its range fully operational at temperatures down to 50 degrees below Celsius.
 
The Arctic range has evolved from a two year development program that was launched in response to the increased levels of shipping in the Arctic and Antarctic and to the requirements of the new IMO Polar Code. Demand is such that ship sets of Arctic liferafts have already been sold to a yard in China for fitting aboard two general cargo ships and with only one other choice of supplier available, further orders are anticipated shortly.
 
The new liferaft heating system runs off the vessel’s emergency electrical supply and has been developed so that it can be integrated within the container of any Survitec liferaft without affecting its float-free characteristics. The self-regulating heating blanket activates automatically when temperatures fall below three degrees Celsius, making it able to prevent the freezing of seals, hydrostatic release and trigger mechanisms while also maintaining the flexibility of the polyurethane liferaft fabric in subzero temperatures. This ensures that even in the most extreme arctic conditions, the passengers and crew of any type of vessel will have dependable liferafts available in an emergency. 
 
The heating system has been developed at the SurvitecZodiac factory in Chevanceaux, France where the liferafts are manufactured to IMO Polar guidelines and Russian winterization rules. One of the biggest challenges for the designers was to find a facility capable of testing the liferafts at temperatures down to 50 degrees below Celsius. Although commercial refrigeration units are often able to freeze to 40 degrees below Celsius, it proved to be a major challenge to find somewhere capable of reaching the polar extreme of 50 degrees below Celsius. Once this had been achieved, however, it became possible to demonstrate the durability and performance of the Arctic system to inspectors from Bureau Veritas.
 
The SurvitecZodiac factory at Chevanceaux is also one of the most modern in the Survitec group and includes a variety of unique production processes. The factory is home to exclusive fabric welding machines developed and built to meet the specific requirements of the Survitec Zodiac manufacturing process. Facilities also include a hydraulic platform which enables the assembly team to work comfortably on large liferafts and thereby maintain the high standards of quality control demanded. Despite the factory being located in the Cognac region of France where summer temperatures can often be extreme, the entire workshop area is temperature and humidity controlled to ensure worker comfort and to maintain the correct curing temperature for the adhesives used in liferaft manufacture. This benefits customers further by ensuring that quality is guaranteed and by avoiding production and delivery delays that might be caused by extreme temperatures bringing output to a standstill.
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