SMS invests in paint, coatings and hydraulics

Southampton-based SMS has identified opportunities nationally and invested in new technology, plant and equipment.

The investment comes as part of the company’s long-term plan, nationally, to provide a better service than the competition and to put the customer first.

SMS has an enviable reputation as specialists in ship repair, marine engineering and major fabrication projects in the commercial marine, defence and superyachts sectors.

Based at Ocean Quay in Belvedere Road, Southampton, it also builds workboats, under the Bulldog brand, for the marine civils, aquaculture, fisheries and ports and harbours sectors.

The business is unique in the fact that it delivers, in-house, all the key marine engineering trades including paint, coatings and hydraulics, where significant recent investment has been made to support future growth of the business.

This has included a significant investment in an ultra-high pressure blasting unit.

Dave Foster, paint and coatings manager, said: “Ultra high pressure (UHP) blasting is simply the practice of using highly pressurised water (40,000 psi) to remove a coating or contaminant from a substrate.

“UHP water blasting provides distinct advantages over other methods of surface preparation. Environmental concerns are reduced because no dust is created by the water blasting process and is, therefore, easier to contain. There is a less residual risk to the owner or operator because contaminants do not become airborne and blasters are not subject to lung injuries, such as silicosis.

“Water blasting excels around sensitive equipment and large intakes where grit could get into moving parts possibly shutting down a compressor or turbine. It is also the preferred method on projects where large amounts of abrasives must be collected and disposed of.

“Blasted surfaces are cleaner than those using traditional solid abrasive methods and, in addition, residual chlorides are removed which results in higher adhesion of the coating and longer coating life. Lead-based paint projects are great for waterjet applications because of the elimination of airborne dust and ease of containment.

“The volume of waste is greatly reduced since lead will not mix with water allowing operators the option of filtering lead paint chips and other contaminants. The residual water can then be treated in most sewer treatment facilities after this filtration”.

He added: “As a department, we are finding that many clients prefer this method of removing old coatings. Also, we are now exceptionally competitive with other specialised contractors within this industry.

“This is mainly due to SMS being able to drastically cut costs. Renting these machines is incredibly expensive hence owning one makes sense. Having a machine to use at our disposal, on short notice, makes us cheaper and quicker. The unit is towable so we can easily transport the unit to any of our sites across the UK, or further afield.”

This investment supports a similar initiative within the company’s own hydraulics department.

SMS has made a significant investment in a transportable flushing rig.

Andy Adams, hydraulics manager, said: “The rig is unique on the south coast. We use it routinely internally and we have on occasion rented it out externally too.

“The rig is fully transportable and is capable, in a standardised environment, to flush 300ltrs per minute at 40bar; and is also fitted with a 50ltr accumulator which allows (set to pulse) circa 600ltrs per minute of flushing and can pressurise up to 500bar.

“The unit is fitted with a thermostatically controlled heating and cooling system, specifically designed to ensure the pre-set temperature of the medium is both consistently measured and regulated. The rig records the data (flowrates/pressures/temperatures) via a portable data recorder with the output demonstrable via electronic graphs and reports.

“The unit also benefits from a particle contamination sensor module which detects and monitors the contamination levels of the medium. This too is demonstrable via the output from aforementioned the data recorder.”

The SMS Group is seeking longevity of custom. Investment in technology, plant and equipment will continue as the business strives to establish itself as the ship repairer of choice in the UK.