This is one subject that has annoyed me over the years.
In my experience most manufacturers have produced excellent equipment for many years and continue to listen to the end user and make modifications to add to the performance and ease of use.
This stupidity continues
Manufactures continue to make pumps for skimmers with different connections to those used by supply vessles. Ships tanks are usually 4" Chiksan threaded connections photo left where as response equipment has Camlock photo right or something simular.
Even better skimmer pumps have anything up to 6" connections so that discharge rates can be increased. This myth continues as when the hose comes aboard it has to be connected to the 4" ships tank therefore reducing the discharge rate.
Discharge hoses should either be changed to fit ships tanks or manifolds made so the skimmer enters on one side and the ships hoses fit on the other side.
Buyer or Hirer Beware
Unfortunately a few equipment designers produce equipment where the colour combination seems to be more important than the practical use, others have optional extras that should be part of the standard equipment.
This equipment is very expensive and it is seriously annoying that having bought it you then have to spend more money doing simple modifications to get it to operate the way you want it to.
It is common during large incidents but also to unsuspecting client to find what in the old west was known as the snake oil salesmen. The name became a generic name or metaphor for any product with exaggerated marketing but questionable quality or benefit. The salesman would prudently leave town before his customers realized that they had been cheated.
Photo left shows someone trying to earn a quick buck during Deepwater Horizon. A trailer full of boom for hire, unfortunately for the owner it did not work because none of the boom had connection to join it together. Nice try though!
In few cases equipment is made, tested found to be defective but sold to unsuspecting clients without any alterations being made.
Photographs do not lie was something to believe before Photoshop® was invented.
Look at the photos in brouchers from the point of view of where you want to use the equipment e.g. booms in calm waters will not look the same in the waves of the open sea.
If you are not familliar with the equipment, before buying or hiring it is advisable to get the opinion of an independent consultant.
Pirates or copiers
In some parts of the world copying good equipment is common but the product is usually very inferior to the original but it will be a bit cheaper.
China has been copying equipment for years and has versions of the Roboom down to the yellow flash along the top of the boom. It looks the part but is not as strong as the original.
In many cases copies are made because of cost, many of these copies look like they were made in your grandads garden shed.
Below are a few example of the originals and the copies. In most cases the copier does not have any idea how the original worked so he omits important bits.
The operator in many cases has never seen the original version so does not know there is a difference.
The original on the left is formed with stiff divisions to allow the oil to be sucked from a depression at the rear. It opens to allow debris to be removed, the manufacture also makes a flexible version which is more difficult to clean.
On the right is the copy where foam rubber has been glued onto the aluminium plate as can be seen the glue is not very good. Also when oil flows into this version it will destroy the rest of the glue and all that will be left is the two aluminium plates.
The original on the right floats on the surface as you would expect, allowing the oil to be sucked into the holes around the leading edge of the skimmer.
Unfortunately the copy on the left sinks even with the help of the rope tied to the front and the fact that the operator would have to stand in oil and water up to his knee's. Now all that is recovered is water while the oil continues on its way.
It was lucky that only when you do the training exercise not a response to an oil spill that you find the problems.
Who ever bought it did not save any money, now he or she has paid for this thing but now has to buy the working version.
The original yellow version of this skimmer on the left has been around for years and has worked well.
You will notice a blue cap below the top connection which is threaded and screws into a captive nut. When using the top connection there is a need to unscrew the cap, this allow air to be sucked into the discharge along with the recovered product.
The copier thinks the hole is filled and therefore does not need to be in place. Now when the top connection is used there is no air entering so the whole skimmer starts to rock backwards and forwards so air can enter through the recovery hole.
During this period the skimmer is recovering much more water than oil. This rocking motion also tend to push the oil away from the wier.
That is why the cap is important!
Unfortunately who ever bought this version has no recourse to get it fixed as the copier still does not know there is a reason for the cap.
If you have one of these then a small 5mm hole in the upright will solve your problem.
If anyone out there has any more examples send the info and photos and I will include them. ( I know this will fall on deaf ears )
Manufactures don't always get it right
In a few cases they listen to the end user and make necessary modification. In many cases people buy expensive equipment and do not allow modifications to be done as they think the manufacturer knows best.
The modifications are usually done after training exercises or responses when the problems are found. Most are simple but others may be costly.
Here is a case in point. When the container right arrived the discharge pump was in the centre which weighs around 70 kgs the question was asked how do we get it out of the container when it is at sea.
The answer from the manufacture was simple you take it out at the port before the ship sails. It was pointed out that in many cases the ship taking equipement offshore is not the ship that will be using it. It is taken to a platform lifted off and put onto another vessel. So we modified the container as seen left, moving the power packs toward the centre to allow space for the pump to be by the door, now the pump does not need to be removed. The container was suspended on a crane to make sure the weight was distributed correctly before things were bolted down.
With everything in place the photo left was taken and sent to the manufacturer with the reason for the modification.
Now the manufacture sells this equipment ready to use. It is not always this simple to sort things out.
Now watch the company video by clicking the link which was sent with Russian subtitles in 2012. It might be an animation but everything is in the same place as before the modification done above. After nearly 30 years of complaining that this manufacturer does not listen to the end user, its good to see nothing changes and the end user continue to waste his time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vob036pzk6g&feature=relmfu
I find it impressive that they say it recovers up to 300m3 and shows the recovered oil being pumped overboard not into the tank vessel that should be use with this system.
The photo whith oil is from the Ixtoc I in the Gulf of Mexico in 1979 where the original 10 wier boom was trialed with oil as a trail they did not get anywhere to store the oil. The stupidity of this sort of advertising is seen by someone who knows nothing about the subject but buys one. Supply boats rarely have more than 900m3 of storage space which means it will be full in 3 hours and now has to leave the area.
A small tanker or barge needs to be alongside for this storage to allow for the 24 hour operation that is mentioned on the video.
Something I have been teaching since the early 1990's but the manufacturer ignores and as companies buying this equipment think the manufacturer knows best, they also ignore the neccessity for a huge storage capacity need.
Research and Developement
Very large amounts of money are spent by most manufacturers to make sure their equipment is fit for purpose. Below is where much of the equipment we use today is or was tested.
The Ohmsett facility was originally built by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1974 and was operated by that same agency until 1987. At that time, it was known as the Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank, or OHMSETT. It is now just referred to by the acronym. In 1989, Ohmsett, as it was known then, was closed and responsibility for the facility was transferred to the U.S. Navy. This was done because the facility is located on the Naval Weapons Station Earle in Leonardo, NJ.
Ohmsett is the National Oil Spill Response Test Facility and the only facility of its kind where full scale oil spill response equipment testing, research, and training can be conducted in a marine environment with oil under controlled conditions. Variables such as waves, temperature, and oil types are able to be controlled. A benefit of this facility is that it provides an environmentally safe place to conduct objective testing and to develope devices and techniques for the control of oil and hazardous material spills.
The facility is located an hour south of New York City, in Leonardo, New Jersey. It is maintained and operated by the Minerals Management Service (MMS), a bureau in the U.S. Department of the Interior that manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf. They do this through a contract with MAR Incorporated.
In the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) gave MMS the lead responsibility for reactivation of Ohmsett . The MMS was also charged with the continuing operation and maintenance of the facility as a national test facility. The MMS refurbished Ohmsett beginning in 1990 and reopened it for testing in 1992. Costs for the yearly operation and maintenance are covered by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund which derives its funds from a tax on companies that produce or transport oil.