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5 Things (Other) Marine Airbag Manufacturers Do Not Want You to Know

High quality marine rubber airbags are commonly used for projects in the heavy industry and marine shipbuilding sector.

high pressure rubber airbag

Some of their most common uses are as follows:

  • Launching of 250-ton to 10,000-ton ships or boats. Sometimes even more
  • Launching of heavy large structures up to 10,000-tons
  • Hauling out of large marine structures including ships for repairs or recycle
  • Providing additional buoyancy for marine salvage projects or flotation needs (i.e. reducing draft of barges etc)
  • Mobilisation of heavy structures on land (a suitable alternative to transporters)
(Below: MAX Marine Airbag used for ship launching)

спуск катера на воду

The usage of marine airbags are especially common in Asia, particularly in the shipbuilding space. However, there has been a misconception in the product, as well as large differences in pricing available in the market. In fact, many of the suppliers claim they are providing xx amount of layers, xx amount of weight etc to justify that their product quality is the same as many of the trusted manufacturers’ products. The vast differences in prices manage to confuse many of these airbag buyers. So, what are the “promises” usually made that a buyer should be careful of?

If you don’t know of marine airbags, and would like to learn more about it, here’s our product page.

Interested to learn how our on-site team can help with mobilisation, launching and hauling? Visit our service page.


1. Weight

It is not uncommon to hear certain suppliers claim something along the lines of “Our rubber airbag of this size weighs xx kg, it proves that our materials are of good quality and we give you more bang for your buck!” or when the weight info is more than a competitor, they claim that their airbags “have more materials in it so it is better!”. However, one should really understand what’s in an airbag, and how weight is affected. And by understanding more, you will see why this is a huge misconception.

Ship-launching airbags are made from rubber and strengthened by cords to provide sufficient bearing capacity. In the act of confusing buyers, some manufacturers actually have more unwanted foreign materials in the rubber sheets, which actually makes them heavier. Rubber is relatively less dense. The availability of more foreign substances in rubber will make them much heavier, but at what cost? It will substantially decrease the elasticity (which means it will fail much sooner after a couple of uses). Some even speed up aging of the rubber and massively decrease its usage safety.

Not all of them do this on purpose, though. Some have these added unneeded foreign materials in the rubber sheets due to dirty working environment or poor quality control procedures. Yet, an overly-aggressive salesperson sometimes mislead and even turn this “higher weight” info into a ‘good’ point to convince buyers. That is why in our facility, we ensure a clean working environment and set-up strict procedures to curb this issue. Only those materials intended to go into a quality marine airbag, goes into them.

Fact #1: Weight is not a good indicator of quality.

rubber airbag quality

2. Raw Materials

Ideally, airbags should be made of new rubber material that adheres to the following standards:

  • ISO34-1  Tear Strength ≥400 N/cm
  • ISO37  Tensile Strength ≥18 MPa, Elongation at Break ≥400%
  • ISO1761-1  Hardness (Shore A) 60±10°
  • ISO815-1  Compression Set
  • ISO188 Requirements After Thermal Aging
  • ISO1431-1 After Static Ozone Ageing

The keyword here is new. MAX NEVER uses recycled or reclaimed rubber material in airbag production. This is a huge red flag. Quality rubber makes the foundation of the whole “inflatable roller” idea, especially when it has to bear very high values of weight on top. Recycled and reclaimed rubber have substantially lower elasticity and has a very fast ageing rate which compromises the integrity of airbags. Use these recycled rubber airbags a couple of times and you will realise they burst very easily.

On the other hand, cords play a big role, too. These “tire cords” are supposed to be three-strand cords with more than 205 N strength per cord. Some manufacturers, like MAX, procure and use a higher strength cord (above required standard) to ensure quality strength; but some other suppliers use two-strand cords with lower strength sometimes. There is also the difference with other cords like dacron cords etc. The difference in use of raw materials can have a cost difference of more than 65%!!

Fact #2: Raw materials in airbags are sometimes very different from one another, and hard to detect.

manufacturing air bags

3. Fabrication Technology

Given all the materials are constant, do you think the end product will be the same? That is not actually the case. Even if both makers are using the same type of materials, the technology and expertise in production would set them apart. It is important for a manufacturer to suitably use certain types of automation and machines to standardise certain procedures, ensuring a very consistent output which minimises mistakes and errors. Skilful workers (and NOT general workers) are needed. With much experience, these personnel are the ones who will make sure every step is according to standard and will result in a consistent, high quality airbag. Details like the alignment, tightness and strength of parts should be inspected closely.

At MAX, we practise a new innovative fabrication technology. This practice enables us to fabricate rubber marine airbags in a more consistent manner, enhancing strength by having multi-directional overlapping layers and minimise human errors.

In addition, we have highly qualified vulcanisation experts. When it comes to manufacturing these high pressure airbags, vulcanisation is a key process where over-vulcanisation or under-vulcanisation can bring very large performance differences!

Fact #3: Even with the same materials, it is impossible to expect two different manufacturers to have exact product result, because of different fabrication technology and manufacturing processes. Some are better than the others.


4. Layer Quantity Overstatement

Imagine the shock when we encountered some customers came to us asking for a 15-layer airbag!

Most ships/structures can be handled with our 7-layer type airbags, or in some cases (sharp hull or challenging work conditions) maybe up 10 layers. But anything more than 10 is definitely not necessary. These overstatements cause industry-wide confusion, and buyers thought they are getting more with these cheap prices. However, we are convinced our MAX 7-layer type airbags would perform better than many of those “15-layer” airbags. Truly reputable suppliers will understand that these high layer counts mean nothing. For those “15-layer” claims, how many layers do you think you are getting?

Also, quantity is not everything. It is vital for the buyers to educate themselves of the difference in quality. And the best part is to try our products to see the difference for themselves!

Fact #4: Find a trusted manufacturer who does not over-promise and under-deliver.

5. Third Party Inspection

Third party inspection is great. Our company happily offers third party inspection certificates from various inspection parties upon customer’s request. However, it is important to understand that inspections are not a guarantee of product quality. They are only able to make sure they are made according to standard guidelines. It does not ensure the product quality is on par with another similarly inspected product. Because these inspections are made with overall product outer inspections.

As we have mentioned earlier, it is a combination of the finest raw materials and skilful fabrication expertise that makes a product great. The fabrication skill can’t be “inspected” and compared on a newly made product. Besides, some manufacturers like MAX even go above and beyond the guidelines to use much higher grade materials in our products.

A more specific example would be product lifespan: product A and product B might work the same for the first two uses, but gradually, you will realise product A degrades, loses its flexibility and strength faster; while product B maintains its performance, and has a much longer useful life. In the long term, you would save more by using product B, even if sometimes it cost a little more upfront.

Fact #5: Third party inspection is not able to 100% ensure integrity of airbag. Find a trusted source.

Try them out

So, these are some of the common misconceptions of marine airbag buyers. Some of these points actually apply to our other products like pneumatic fenders, dredging hoses, foam fenders, rubber fenders, winches etc too. If you are currently using other brand’s products, try contacting us to get a quote. We are confident that if you tried our rubber airbags, you will realise the difference upon usage!


Blockchain tech in Maritime & Supply Chain: Is it just a fad?

At MAX, we always promote forward thinking in our organisation. From time to time, we feature interesting thought articles from our staff in our company blog. Opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official view of MAX Groups Marine. This article is written by Ang, to provide a simple blockchain explanation to our industry friends, and discuss the potential of the tech.

bitcoin rise

With Ether & Bitcoins soaring to all-time highs (despite the most recent market correction), blockchain and cryptocurrency are all the buzz in today’s technology world.For those who are not familiar with the terminology, “blockchain technology” is the underlying technology for a cryptocurrency like “Bitcoin”.

Blockchain enthusiasts have been raving about the great benefits of blockchain technology and how it will revolutionise industries like insurance, finance, healthcare, energy, government & law, as well as the maritime industry.

With news like Maersk and IBM teaming together to explore blockchain solution for the shipping industry, it is understandable that many are excited when even the largest container shipping line is starting to take this tech seriously.

However, setting the hype aside, we have to think: is this a technology that has real value, and that it is really going to disrupt the maritime industry? Or is it just a fad that has no concrete value?

I mean, there was a time not too long ago where everybody seemed to want to build their own mobile app, but realised that adaptive websites may be a better option for most uses?

ibm maersk reuters news

IBM & Maersk teaming up in exploring blockchain tech. By Reuters.

[Update 19/1/2018]

The system is expected to be made available to the ocean shipping industry around mid-2018.


About two years ago, in a casual meeting in Indonesia, I was impressed when even leaders in the shipbuilding industry were aware of the Bitcoin buzz back then. It is truly amazing how much blockchain-based technologies have grown since. Many are claiming this technology as one of the most important inventions of our time. Wow. What is it that they see in it? How is it different from the solutions we are currently using today? What are the successful use-cases?

To be clear, I am no computer science expert but I have been following the developments of this technology for the past 2-3 years now and I hope to share these interesting findings with my colleagues.

To truly explore the real-life applications of a blockchain, one has to understand the core features & benefits. Most people I spoke to (both within and out of our organisation) in the industry struggle to grasp the concept of blockchain technology. But that’s totally okay. Let’s face it, how many of us really understood how the internet actually works? So here is my attempt to explain what a blockchain is in a VERY general way so that even your mum and dad can understand the core concept (hopefully).

If you want more details, just google up blockchain.

blockchain maritime

What is a Blockchain?

Google blockchain and you will find many definitions in the lines of:

Blockchain is a distributed ledger.

Yes it is the simplest definition out of thousands there. Yet, it might still a little complicated for your dad & mum. Let’s take a minute to translate those complicated jargons to more relatable terms, shall we?

Distributed —> Shared by many, not present in one central location

Ledger —> Record book

That essentially means:

Blockchain is a shared record book.

It is a network of shared record books. There are thousands of copies of the exact same record book stored in many computers all around the world (both home computers and business servers). This record book can be used to record all sorts of info, including but not limited to, money.

*In most articles out there, the blockchain definition given is specifically referring to the Bitcoin’s blockchain. But the idea of this article is to discuss the use of blockchain-based technologies, as there are plenty other blockchains out there.


Simple example: A sending B $10:

When A wants to send money to B, a new line item is created detailing that transaction.


This line item then gets sent off to thousands of other computers who have a copy of the record. Those computers confirm that this transaction is authorised, and ultimately they agree (or disagree) that everything about the transaction is legitimate before giving that line item a tick of approval. It has to match up perfectly on every copy of the record.

It is as if A and B had a few thousand witnesses witnessing the transfer of money from A to B and all agree to it being a valid transaction. They are also responsible to check whether the amount stated is correct, among all other details.

Why is this system of shared record books such a big deal?

  1. Participants can confirm transactions without the need for a central certifying authority.
  2. The record is also much more secure as it is not stored in a central location. Because the record is distributed in many copies around the network, the only way to tamper with the record is to change the MAJORITY copies at all the records all around the world, AT THE SAME TIME, since the network will drop falsified records which don’t follow the rules. As long as the scale of usage is large enough, compromising a blockchain transaction is practically impossible.
  3. Yes, it is technically a public record. But coupled with cryptographic technology, we can ensure that only intended participants can see what they are allowed to see.

In short, blockchain is a technology that establishes trust, accountability and transparency. So you do not really need to trust the other party in order to enter into a transaction with him/her, and you can trust that the contract set in place cannot be amended.

Many are excited of how it can be used to streamline business processes.

trade finance

Current problem in maritime / shipping / supply chain transactions

In maritime and global trade, transactions involve a ton of paperwork. That includes multiple bills of lading, bank letters of credit, sale invoices & contracts, charter agreements etc. These paper documents exist simply because we can not trust each other (too much) in business. Each party in the supply chain wanted assurance of payment for its performance, and protection against the unauthorised delivery of goods. As a result, lots of manpower is involved in the process and some transactions even require third parties like Banks to provide Letter of Credit as protection.

These add to transaction expenses and long processing hours. Despite having all these third parties, there are still many quality control issues, document fraud cases and expensive dispute arbitration.


Re-imagining a new process with smart contracts & blockchain

The rise of a protocol like Ethereum (one of the many types of blockchain-based technology) allows people to program smart contracts on its blockchain. Here are the most discussed potential use-cases, relevant to the shipping and supply chain industry. What do you think?

  1. Improving bill of lading & custom process.

One of the companies working on this is Israeli startup Wave, who is currently working with Barclays to explore the use of blockchain to facilitate the move to ‘paperless trade’.

  1. Contracts to Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference. There are many companies currently working on these smart contract services.

  1. Bank’s letter of credit

News of a new prototype developed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) bringing the letter of credit (LC) transactions onto the blockchain proved big banks’ interest in real world application of the technology.

This statement from Ather Williams (head of global transaction services at BofAML) highlights the potential in this space “Blockchain has reshaped our thinking on how to make transaction processes more efficient and transparent for all parties. The success of this proof of concept is a significant development towards digitising trade transactions, potentially resulting in considerable benefits to the supply chain process,”

  1. Goods inspection report

Oftentimes, goods inspection by a third party is required to ensure quality assurance before shipment. However, these inspection reports can be amended and the process to verify and perform a validity check is extremely slow & inefficient. This is similar to the education certificate case use. As reported by CNBC, some schools have already started implementing this technology to minimise education certificate fraud. I see a similar use purpose in goods inspection report.

  1. Goods Tracking

It is reported by Fortune that Maersk has completed the first test of a system that would manage the company’s cargos using blockchain. Various companies are working on all sorts of tracking systems with blockchain as a base while adding the use of electronic tracking systems. Walmart’s exploration of the tech has yield significant results as they claim to have “reduced the time it takes to track food from days to minutes” in their supply chain. And that they are even convinced to try applying the tech in other areas in the company.


Of course, there are still currently many limitations – block size, speed as this tech is still in its infancy stage. And different blockchains have different fundamental technologies. But the idea of a distributed ledger is really interesting especially for a multi trillion dollar industry like trade finance. And we do not know yet all the potential things we can do with it. When internet was first introduced, I am sure we wouldn’t have imagined how it could become such an integral part of our lives. Will blockchain become a fundamental platform for the next wave of innovation in our industry? Only time can tell.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts.


Top Maritime News in 2017

[Updated Nov 2017]

Top News that happened in Oct 2017:

  • Maersk Line recognised as the ‘Container Operator of 2017’ in Lloyd’s List Asia Awards. Oct 27th. With many improvements to its core services and products throughout 2017, Maersk Line’s leadership in the industry is recognised. [More at news portal]
  • FSO unit Randgrid started its charter contract with Statoil. Oct 6th. The vessel is converted from Teekay’s Offshore Partners shuttle tanker and will be in operation in Gina Krog oil and gas field October onwards. [More info at WorldMaritimeNews]
  • Liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels through the Expanded Panama Canal. Oct 10th. Since welcoming its first LNG carrier back in July 2016, the LNG segment has been surpassing original expectations of 1 transit per week, and on average, 5.2 LNG vessels have transited the canal per week. [View on youtube]
  • Xavier storm disrupted ports in North Germany. Oct 6th. During the storm, a 5,415 CEU pure car & truck carrier (PCTC) Cygnus Leader broke loose from its moorings in Bremerhaven. Many other ports in the region suffered from damages as well. [Detailed report at news]


Top News that happened in Sep 2017:

  • Fuel Oil Spill Incident from Maltese-flagged Bulk Carrier (New Orleans): Sept 5th. 4/9/2017, bulk carrier M/V Vitahorizon has been involved in a 10-20 barrels high sulfur fuel oil spill during bunkering operations while anchored at New Orleans area, Louisiana. [More at WorldMaritimeNews]
  • Cancels Cruise Ship Itineraries Cancelled and Ports Closed due to Hurricane Irma:  Sept 6th. Due to the unpredictability of the storm, many cruise ship itineraries & ports in USA have been affected by the hurricane. [Read more]
  • The Worst is Over for LNG Shipping Sector?: Sept 20th. “So, the oversupply of tonnage with which we struggled over the past few years looks to be diminishing, and this will likely lead to stronger rates.”, Jon Skule Storheill, CEO of Awilco LNG said.  [Read article]
  • Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands closed to vessels (again) because of Hurricane Maria: Sept 20th. Effective 8 am local time 19/9/2017, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port San Juan, Capt. Eric set port condition ZULU… [Learn More]
  • Suez Canal Authority Granting Toll Discounts for Certain LNG Carriers: Sept 27th. 30% discount offered to LNG carriers sailing in the Arabian Gulf and west of India up to Kochi port. 40% off the canal dues for tankers transiting East of the Port of Kochi west of India up to the Port of Singapore, while a fee reduction of 50% for Singapore. [More info at News]

Top News that happened in Aug 2017:

  • Hapag-Lloyd (German shipping company) posted a net loss of EUR -46.1 mill in the first half of 2017: Aug 29th. Net loss reduced from last year’s equivalent of EUR 142.1 mill due to improved profitability, increased savings. [Read more]
  • 2004-built 52,454 dwt bulk carrier – Patriot has been detained in Singapore waters: Aug 11th. The vessel was arrested in the morning hours of August 10, 2017 under unknown reasons (Supreme Court of Singapore did not disclose further details). [News at WorldMaritimeNews]
  • Norway-based bulker owner Songa Bulk purchased another 81,918 dwt vessel Kamsarmax: Aug 25th. The vessel was built at Tsuneishi shipyard in Japan in 2014 and will be delivered in September. [Learn more]
  • Drunken captain of the 30,700 dwt containership Shansi fined by New Zealand: August 8th. The seafarer exceeded the alcohol limit and was fined New Zealand Dollars 3,000 (about USD 2,200) when attempting to dock the vessel. [More about the news] 


July 2017:

  • Singapore-based BergeBulk Received New Ore Carrier: July 21st. China Long Xue shipyard finished construction of a 327m long, 57m wide ore carrier vessel and delivered it to Berge Bulk. According to reports, the vessel will serve routes between China and Australia. [More about this report here]
  • NSRI Medevacs Bulker Filipino Crewman off Port Elizabeth: July 7th. A Filipino crewman was medevacked from the bulk carrier Cape Orchid off Port Elizabeth on June 30, South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) informed. [Read more]
  • APM Terminals Port Elizabeth Still Affected by Cyber Attack: July 11th. APM Terminals Port Elizabeth (APMT ELZ) is still combating the cyber attack, two weeks after Danish transport and logistics major Maersk was hit by Petya. [Click to learn more]
  • Liverpool2 Expansion starts: 17th July. The UK-based Peel Ports Group has launched the second phase of its expansion programme at Liverpool2, dubbed one of the world’s most modern shipping terminals. [Read more]

maritime news june 2017

June 2017:

  • China COSCO Shipping Group Spends USD 1.7 Billion on 14 Ultra Large Containership Vessels : June 23rd. In consideration of new target routes from Asia to Europe prompted by new free trade deals, COSCO reportedly bought six 21,000 TEU boxships, eight 13,500 TEU newbuilds. [More detailed reporting at WorldMaritimeNews]
  • German shipping group Rickmers officially filed for insolvency, another largest shipping casualty since Hanjin : June 2nd. Total chartered and owned fleet amounts up to 114 vessels. Rickmers is forced to file for insolvency due to HSH Nordbank failing to approve its restructuring plan. [Read more at Splash247]
  • WorldMaritimeNews reported that Crisis to Hurt Qatar’s Crude, Refined Product Exports : June 7th. Ocean Freight Exchange (OFE) reported that the Qatar diplomatic crisis has affected shipping. The most notable are tightened port restrictions, resulting in logistical issues. [Read more]
  • United Kingdom Helps Rescue Crew of Sunken Tanker off Coast of Yemen : June 26th. In the early morning hours on June 26th, the UK Coastguard acted to rescue 14 crew on board a Panamanian flag crude oil tanker which sank 240 miles off the coast of Yemen. [Click to read news]
  • DHT Holdings: Frontline’s Marshall Islands Lawsuit Dismissed : June 19th. Legal action filed by John Fredriksen-controlled Frontline in the High Court of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which challenged DHT’s transaction with BW Group and DHT’s Rights Plan, has been dismissed, with prejudice. [Read more]


May 2017:

  • Sea Shepherd Seeks EU Action Against Denmark’s Whale Killing : May 11th. Marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd Netherlands has submitted a request to the European Commission (EC) to launch infringement proceedings against Denmark for facilitating the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands. [Read more at WorldMaritimeNews]
  • OBP: Nearly 2,000 Seafarers Affected by Piracy in West Africa in 2016 : May 2nd. With regard to Asia, OBP calculated that 2,283 seafarers were affected by piracy & armed robbery in 2016, down from 3,674 in 2015.. [Click to read more.]
  • Five Die in RoPax Ferry Fire off Indonesia : May 22nd. The incident happened on Friday, May 19 while the Indonesian-flagged ship was underway in Masalembo waters of East Java. [More details at news article]
  • GSI Delivers Final Newbuilding to Navig8 Product Tankers : May 19th. Petroleum products shipping company Navig8 Product Tankers has received a 113,000 DWT LR2 tanker from China’s Guangzhou Shipyard International Company Limited… [Read more]
  • Svitzer Starts Building Moroccan Fleet : May 23rd. Svitzer has ordered four ASD tugs from Sanmar Shipyards to service the recently awarded TMSA, Tanger Med 2 Port contract in the Kingdom of Morocco. [Learn more]
  • Bulker Crewman Dies in Berthing Accident in Quebec : May 24th. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has deployed a team of investigators to the Port of Trois-Rivières, Québec, following an accident involving the bulk carrier Nord Quebec in which one person died. [Read more]
  • Norway is listed among the top 10 shipowning nations in the world, led by top Frederiksen Group, BW Group, Knutsen, Stolt Nielsen and SinOceanic Shipping. As this infographic has shown, most of their orders are placed in China. Credits to VesselsValue for this infographic:infographic-Norway-vessel-2017


April 2017:

  • Seven Missing after Ship Sinks in Black Sea : April 19th incident. A 2,850 dwt ship split and sank, and 7 crew members gone missing in the process. [Read more at WorldMaritimeNews]


  • Five New Terminals for Veracruz Port, Mexico : Terminals capacity will be increased to 100 mill tons of cargo annually. Luxembourg’s Jan De Nul Group announced winning a EUR 60m contract to deepen the port to allow such developments. [Read more at WorldMaritimeNews]


  • Armed Pirates Chase & Fire Upon Tanker off Somalia : April 22nd incident. IMB Piracy Reporting Centre reported six armed pirates firing at a tanker off coast of Somalia. [Read more at WorldMaritimeNews]


  • Two Dead in Explosion aboard Bulker : Explosion incident aboard the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Tamar on April 24th. [Read more at news site]


  • Hyundai Samho Receives VLCC Order, Attracts New Investment : Neda Maritime, a Greece-based shipping company ordered a 319,000 dwt VLCC from Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Korea, with an option for one more. [More details at article]


  • EIB, ABN Amro to Bolster Green Shipping in Europe : On April 21st, European Investment Bank (EIB) and Dutch bank ABN Amro plan to sign an agreement to support “greening the fleet” investments. [Read more at WorldMaritimeNews]


  • [JUST IN] Five Killed, Dozens Injured in Crane Collapse at Samsung Heavy Industries : May 1st incident. At least four more seriously injured in the incident. [Details at news site]



Mooring Bollard : Design & Types

Mooring bollard is a vital component of any mooring system. It is the anchor point for mooring lines to be fixed in order to secure the vessel. It is usually a short post on a quay / jetty.

Since the beginning of maritime history, people has been using wooden posts or iron structures for this purpose. With newer advanced manufacturing technology, reputable manufacturers of today study the strength and durability of materials while having a safety factor as a safety cushion. Designing and choosing the right components is a big part. Ductile iron, cast steel and stainless steel are some of the main materials used to make marine bollards.


Generally, design of a bollard should have a thicker diameter at the top (head / tip of the structure) to make it harder for the mooring lines to escape accidentally. It is important to provide a solid anchor point for mooring ropes. Certain designs have double bollards for ropes to be cross-fastened. Such an arrangement would provide a tighter connection. Single and double designs are both available in the market today.

Besides size & design, bollards are also categorised by their grade and load ratings. Moreover, durability is a factor when choosing a suitable bollard design as maintenance is something that end user should have in mind.


Constant inspection to spot possible deterioration
The mechanical performance of bollards may also deteriorate after some time. Durability testing has to be done. Constant inspection from time to time should be performed to confirm the bollards are working well without need of repair.


photo from Wikipedia.

Strong forces that are very difficult to control, are often present during mooring. A strong gust of wind might cause the mooring arrangement to fail and the ship out of control. Therefore, the safety factors of bollards should not be underestimated. A 25T rated bollard should be able to withstand forces many times over.


Types of Bollards

Some of the most commonly used bollard designs today are the Single Bitt, Double Bitt, T-head, Horn (or some known as Staghorn), Kidney-shaped and some variable double head bollard designs.

Single Bitt Bollard
Also known as “US Style Pillar Bollards”, it is perfect for large tidal range berths.

single bitt bollard US style pillar


Double Bitt Bollard
Some call it the “Twin Horn” or “Twin”. Small base area is space-saving for small areas.

twin horn double bitt bollard


T-head Bollard
Tee Bollard”, “T-bollard”, this design has a top shaped like a “T”. Hence, the name. Very prominent in many parts of the world due to its simplicity and it gets the job done well up to 300 tonnes.



Horn Bollard
Some refer it to as the “Staghorn design” as well. It can accommodate very steep mooring angles.



Kidney-shaped Bollard
A simple design that is suitable when low to medium tidal range is expected.


There are of course other designs available but these are the main types present all around the world in marine use.

kidney design

Installation & Maintenance

Installation of marine bollards are generally simple. It should not be too hard for a company to install the purchased product. However, you should deal with a supportive supplier who will assist you in all dimensional requirements and discussion should you have any questions. Just like any other port structures and equipments, high engineering precision is required in order to keep mooring processes safe.

Maintenance wise, bollard is generally a low maintenance structure. A periodic inspection should suffice.

Drop us an email should you require any assistance in mooring bollard needs.

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Rubber Fenders: Types & Things to Note

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5 Ways a Rubber Fender System can Fail You. #4 is the Most Overlooked Mistake.

A good marine rubber fender system is able to absorb collision energy at an effective and efficient manner during berthing. This helps to prevent vessel and structural damage. Despite high budgets allocated to develop fender systems, some companies neglect some of the details that may compromise the whole structure. Some of these cases even witness the increase in maintenance costs and accident risks due to poor performing rubber fender systems.


A cylindrical-type rubber fender against the quay wall

The list starts from the most obvious areas a fender system may go wrong, to the slightest details in the structure most often overlooked.

1. Rubber Fender Body Quality & Material.

High quality fenders generally absorb energy effectively and produce low reaction force.

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A high performing rubber fender system generally has high energy absorption and low reaction force. This relies on the manufacturing quality and the quality of raw materials used. This is often the top of the list when it comes to marine fender purchasing decisions.

MAX Product-Solid Fender 12

For example, cell-shaped fender body has great energy absorption capacity

2. Types of Fenders

Inappropriate use of rubber fender types will cause the system to under perform.

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There are many different types of popular fenders. Type of fenders used are basically dictated in a project by project basis to optimise performance over the product lifecycle. Some of the most popular types are arch fenders, cylindrical fenders, supercell fenders, cone fenders and more. Different types of rubber fenders are more suited for different situations and uses. To find out more about the types of fenders, you can read our previous post HERE.

MAX Product-Solid Fender 8MAX Product-Solid Fender 13

3. Fender Panel Design, Surface & Thickness.

Take fender panel thickness, material design and surface type into consideration.

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These fender panels have to be able to withstand shearing, bending and local buckling. If the designed fabrication is unprofessional and done by unqualified engineers, chances are the rubber fender system would under-perform and have a shorter life span.

The thickness of the steel plate sections and whole panel should also be considered. Many people overlook the thickness of the panel and favor the cheapest option. Yet thin panels may not be fit for the job of absorbing collision for your structure, subsequently risking the safety of port staff. Face pads’ thickness varies from 30mm to 40mm usually. Depending on usage, you would probably want to opt for 40mm as theoretically you may get near twice the service life due to higher wear allowance. The quality of paint coating is also another design detail that most people overlook when it comes to quality of the marine fender system.

MAX Product-Solid Fender 14

4. Fender Fixings.

Fender Fixings quality are often overlooked. And it causes the system to under perform.

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The quality and materials used for fender fixings are often overlooked. The best quality fixings uses steel. It is however, also possible to use galvanised mixed materials. Depending on the usage, environmental features and expected lifespan, both are actually possible options. However, it is important not to overlook this area when making purchasing decisions.

MAX Project Vietnam 1

5. The Need for Restraint Chains

The need of chains are the No.1 overlooked aspect of a rubber fender system.

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You may have noticed that not every rubber fender system requires chains. However, it is important to not forget about them when you really need these chains, for cases like when heavy panels that can not be comfortably supported by the fender alone. In some cases when chains were needed but not installed, the fender system fails in delivering and was damaged in action. Chains included should be regularly maintained as well.

These are just some of the most overlooked details when it comes to developing an effective marine rubber fender system. Most importantly, be sure to find a trusted supplier for your rubber fender system that assures you their priority. Certification from third party professional bodies is a very important aspect that assures great quality. MAX manufacturing facility is certified by various bodies like Bureau Veritas (BV), China Classification Society (CCS) and Quality Assurance Centre (QAC) just to name a few.

Drop Us an Email!

Do you experience a short lifespan for your marine equipment/products? Deal with a supplier who is slow in responding and service? Or did you pay extremely high prices for an average quality product that fail quite often? 83% of our global clients claim that these are the problems that made them search for a better alternative and subsequently worked with us since.

MAX is known for our products’ great quality-to-price ratio and responsive customer service. What’s more? From our sales office to manufacturing plants, we are committed to do our part in ‘Going Green‘ for the environment. Drop us an email and we will assist!

Learn about MAX Rubber Fender Products.

super cell fender maxArch fender maxCylindrical Fender 3 MaxArch Fender 4 MaxMAX rubber fender system cases

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Greener Future of Maritime & Shipping Industry: Green Ship

Green Ship

MAX rubber fender image

International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has been intensifying their efforts in environmental rule-making in recent years. This no doubt drives the entire industry in an inevitable direction – to greener, cleaner solutions. As a result, ships and ports are demanded to be more ‘green’ these days. Green ships consist of elements from cleaner fuels to various green ship technologies to minimise energy wastage, carbon output and seek to decrease negative impact on marine biology.

Green ship is about marine biology, cleaner fuels, and energy wastage minimisation. Tweet this!

Cleaner fuels

Ships used to run on unrefined crude full with sulphur and environmentally-harmful impurities. This is because this type of fuel is the leftover of the oil refining process and extremely cheap when compared to other options. In 2005, the IMO started to control the sulphur content of maritime fuel especially in Western countries like the U.S. and Europe. This results in ships needing to burn higher quality (hence, more expensive) fuel with components similar to diesel.


Technologies of greener ships are in demand right now due to more and more regulations and public awareness of the environment.

Some of the most talked about green ship technology is the No Ballast System that aims to minimise ship ballast’s negative environmental impact on aqua organisms.

No Ballast System decreases negative impact on aqua biology.

More efficient systems like higher propulsion efficiency and better cooling water systems that drastically decreases environmental effects are also in the making. Solar cell integration is also one big area that shipbuilders are focusing on.

Efficient solar cell integration in greener ships can save fuel up to 20%.

An infographic that shows some of the popular application of green technologies in ship building as below:

green ship Tech MAX-Infographic from MarineInsight.com

Some stats you should tweet:

  • An optimised cooling system can save up to 25 percent of electricity and 1.5 percent fuel. Tweet this!
  • Greener engines are able to minimise NOx output up to 35 percent and achieve zero SOx output. Tweet this!
  • Solar-Sail hybrid system can minimise to 20 percent fuel consumption. Tweet this!
  • Kite-Sail System can reduce fuel consumption by 20 to 40 percent annually. Tweet this!
  • Rig-Sail System is a hybrid system that can help ships save fuel up to 30 percent. Tweet this!
  • Implementation of exhaust scrubber can reduce SOx emissions up to 98 percent! Tweet this!
  • Latest advanced propellers can save 4 percent fuel compared to old designs. Tweet this!
  • Speed nozzle that increases efficiency at high speeds help save up to 5 percent fuel. Tweet this!
  • New hull paints are improved to reduce friction and reduce fuel consumption up to 8 percent. Tweet this!


green port

Green Port

Besides green ships, port development projects are also more eco-friendly these days. Ports are focusing on reducing carbon footprints, minimising pollution, conserving natural resources and strive for zero energy wastage. Some even placed great emphasis in decreasing noise pollution!

Green Port tech focus on reducing carbon footprint, increasing energy efficiency and waste management. Tweet this!

Waste management

Most ports go green by first identifying recycling possibilities (or re-use even) and put a solid waste segregation plan in action.

Carbon zero

The ‘green’ vision of ports has prompted the implementation of carbon reduction programs that includes monitoring of gas, electricity and water usage in ports. Energy saving systems like smart lighting systems are also practised in certain port projects.

Long-term Future of Green Ports & Green Ships

Going ‘green’ is not exactly achievable overnight. It takes lots of effort from all authorities and parties involved. Until now, implementation of more environmental friendly and ‘green’ systems are hindered by the costs involved. However, the energy consumption in the long-term may be a great investment. ‘Green’ is not going anywhere soon, so it is highly advisable that even the smallest companies in this industry will be prepared for the ‘Green Era’. No matter how small the contribution is, steps taken to reduce carbon footprints and implementation of more eco-friendly programs will help build a more sustainable future for the industry.

That is why MAX Groups Marine focuses a lot on reducing our carbon footprint from our sales office to manufacturing plants. Because we care. For us, going green is a priority.

View all our other products at our main products page HERE.

Read about “5 Ways a Fender System can Fail You. No.4 is the Most Overlooked Mistake.” HERE.

*UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2014: This article has been featured on Australian Shipowners Association‘s Anchor Industry Magazine.

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How MAX uses 3D Printing to Add Value

A big part of MAX’s business also manages and advises shipyards in launching or ship repair processes. These days, for trickier projects with challenging ship dimensions or special situational slipways, our team uses 3D printing to help with our demo.

3D printing is very commonly referred to as additive manufacturing. It is when successive layers of material (for our use, it’s PLA) are slowly laid down under precise intelligent control to form a 3D shaped object. 3D printers is a rising trend of rapid prototyping in today’s world. For MAX, we use it to make demo kits according to precise specifications of our clients’ vessels.

MAX 3D printer

Unlike our old presentation, now for certain cases, our presentation and discussion features a more lively demo with 3D printed objects scaled down (usually 1:500) according to exact dimensions of our clients’ modules. Besides, this also enabled our team to understand the dimensions of the module more clearly with a physical object in hand. It certainly helps our customers understand better and have a look of a scaled down ratio of things

3D Designing, Rendering & Slicing for Print

Our team studies the dimensions or require clients to send their designs so that we can proceed with slicing for printing preparation. At this stage, the amount of time, materials and configurations are carefully considered. (Due to the confidentiality of the designs, we are unable to showcase photos for real projects).

rendering & design3D slicing

Printing a Demo Kit

The printing process ranges from a couple of minutes up to 20 hours! It mainly depends on printing quality, speed & configurations.

printer maxprinting in action

3D printing is adopted in our sales & marketing team as we hope to establish effective communication with our stakeholders.  MAX is proud to be embracing new technologies like we always have to improve our delivery to clients. This is especially true at the time where we are popularising an extremely versatile ship launching method worldwide especially in America, Europe and South East Asia. Learn more at Shiplaunching.org.

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prelude shell LNG

Here’s All You Need to Know about Shell Prelude FLNG

Royal Dutch Shell’s Prelude FLNG is the first floating liquefied natural gas platform in the world. Besides, it is well known for being the largest offshore facility ever built up to date and is a marine engineering masterpiece. Construction of the Prelude is performed by Samsung Heavy Industries South Korea.

Shell Prelude FLNG is the first floating liquefied natural gas platform & largest offshore facility in the world. Tweet this!

Prelude FLNG

Here are some facts that you really should know about this stunning architecture.

Dimensions wise, this facility is so massive that it is almost 88 metres longer than the world’s biggest ship – Maersk Mc-Kinny Moller. Its width of 74m is even bigger than a Boeing 747′s wingspan whereas its height (its relatively less impressive metric) is still taller than the iconic Big Ben in London and the Statue of Liberty in U.S.

Shell Prelude FLNG is 488m long, and its deck is longer than 4 football fields laid end to end. Tweet this!

More than 6700 Horsepower thrusters are used to position the facility. An impressive amount of 50 million litres of water is used every hour for cooling the LNG. Its Liquefied Natural Gas production capacity is expected to be at 3.6 million metric tons per annum.

The Prelude FLNG has a storage that equals 175 Olympic sized swimming pools. Tweet this!

BBC News reported that analysts told Reuters that the cost of building the Prelude FLNG is estimated to be between $10.8 billion and $12.6 billion.

Shell Prelude FLNG is estimated to cost around $10.8bn to $12.6bn, according to analysts. Tweet this!

Natural gas will be extracted from wells and liquified by cooling it down to about -162 degrees celsius. The entire industry is excited of its innovation that removes the need for pipelining systems to land-based processing plants to produce LNG. The ability to produce liquified natural gas in sea is an incredible innovation. Liquified Natural Gas will then be offloaded to LNG Carriers. This has never been done before due to the sophistication and complexion of processing equipments, and fitting all of them into a single facility seemed impossible for many years. Shell claimed that research has been carried out for more than 10 years to make this project a reality.


After about 14 months of construction, the 200,000 tonne facility floats out to the sea for second phase of construction in December 2013. Check this video out to see the launching of this incredible project:

Drilling is expected to begin in 2017 where this floating facility will be deployed at 200km off the coasts of Australia in the Prelude and Concerto gas fields. It is said that it has a planned life expectancy of 25 years.

We are awaiting its completion where history will be made again.

Infographic credits to Shell & MaritimeInsight.com. Special thanks to GasTechNews.com for extensive features to help us understand the prelude project.

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Maritime Piracy: Cargo Theft & Piracy is More Real Than You Think

Piracy and cargo theft results in billions in losses. These incidents are more real than most people think. Measures are taken by the authorities worldwide (navies & security guards) to tackle this issue and protect the supply chain more than ever. As a result in 2013, global piracy fell to a 6-year low. In whole, piracy events are more frequent in South East Asia than western countries. However, land vehicle hijackings are equally common, in even the most developed countries.

The 2013 global outlook of cargo hijackings, theft and piracy is provided by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau. This informative infographic by the Journal of Commerce is based on reported cases and realistic estimation of cargo value. Here’s what’s happening around the world:

Stats you should tweet:

  • In 2013, ICoC’s International Maritime Bureau recorded 264 piracy attacks. Tweet this!
  • BSI reported $22.4 billion in losses globally due to cargo theft in 2013. Tweet this!
  • 8.8% of piracy attacks in 2013 targeted container ships. Tweet this!
  • There are an estimated 106 piracy attacks in Indonesia in 2013, most worldwide. Tweet this!
  • Europe is the highest-loss region worldwide due to cargo theft at $7.2 billion. Tweet this!
  • The median value of cargo theft in France $173,300 is highest in Europe. Tweet this!
  • 65% of U.S. cargo theft events occurred in TX, CA, FL, IL and GA. Tweet this!
  • 41% of U.S. cargo theft involved a parked truck at a parking or drop lot. Tweet this!
  • Electronics, esp cell phones, are most frequently targeted commodities. Tweet this!
  • More incidents happen in Brazil than in any other country in the region. Tweet this!
  • Egypt saw an average of 1 hijacking attempt per week. Tweet this!
  • Hijacking increased 14.9% in South Africa, first increase in 4 yrs. Tweet this!
  • Hijacking accounted for 25% of all cargo thefts targeting trucks in Russia. Tweet this!

MAX cargo theft stats & piracy maritime

Credits to JOC for a wonderful infographic!

Read “The Ultimate Guide to Ship Launching, Marine Salvage & Ship Repair using MAX Rubber Airbags” article HERE.

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Ship Repair, Launching & Marine Salvage using MAX Airbags

The Ultimate Guide to Ship Launching, Ship Repair & Marine Salvage using MAX Airbags

MAX Marine Airbag technology is an extremely flexible technology where it can handle heavy structure launchings (ships, boats, floating jetties, caissons), ship repair haul-ins and marine salvaging cases. While we cannot disclose the details of calculation due to professional competitive advantage, this guide aims to give an overall view of how MAX advises our clients.

Ship launching using such marine rubber inflatables is superior to many other conventional methods.

Airbag ship repair and launching offer shipyards a cheaper, safer and eco-friendlier option than traditional methods. Tweet this!

Jump directly to:-

Ship Launching Section

Ship Repair Section

Marine Salvage Section

Penang shiplaunch max airbags

Ship Launching Section

MAX Rubber Airbags are really cost-effective in launching a vessel, ranging from smaller sized barges to tug boats up to bigger sized chemical tankers etc. But it is very important to understand that rubber airbag launching is not a ‘one-size-fit-all’ method. In fact, MAX team would need to understand all the necessary technical specifications of the vessel (or structure, as this launching method can also be used to launch caissons & floating jetties etc) and many external factors.

The first step is to identify the vessel size & dimensions.

Identify Main Dimensions & Types of Vessel

At MAX, we believe in listening before we jump to conclusions and putting our clients priorities first.

Before proceeding in advising, MAX staff would normally request our prospects to fill in a technical specifications form. Factors like length overall (L.O.A.), beam, draft, launching weight (light weight) of the vessel and working height (distance between ground and the hull of the vessel), just to name a few. This enables our team to understand the weight of the structure during launching and equally as important, the main dimensions so the airbags can be structured efficiently. Different designs of the structure plays a role in choosing the types of airbags.

Selection of MAX Marine Airbag

After understanding the type of vessel and its principal dimensions, MAX staff is then able to recommend the types, sizes and numbers of airbags. A weight contingency of a certain percentage of the vessel weight is taken into consideration. This helps MAX to ensure a safe launching process by not overexerting the rubber airbags and also have a safety margin, should there be any additional weight carried by the vessel during launching.

Based on the dimensions and structural design, the team can recommend the dimensions of the airbag in terms of length, diameter and type. Then, based on calculations and careful projections, MAX staff is able to determine the guaranteed bearing capacity per airbag. At this point, extra airbags for launchway mobilisation will be included in MAX’s recommendations.

The selection process of MAX airbags is also checked by our MAX Smart Ship launching software.

launching calculator

Due to professional competitive advantage, this is a screenshot of just a part of the software.

This software is developed by MAX software engineering team and acs as a double-checking process to enable a safe recommendation of the optimum number and types of airbags for use.

General Ground Structure Preparation

MAX airbag launching process requires a hard ground so that the whole structure will not sink during launching.

If the ground consists of sand or is soft, there are many options that our staff will recommend. Sandbags are a very commonly used option. MAX also helped many of our clients prepare concrete ground as launching slipway for airbag use. This would require a very delicate study of the nature of the ground and in-depth analysis on a case-to-case basis. Thus, it is crucial that this aspect should not be overlooked. Fortunately for MAX, we have helped our clients solve these issues in many years of our experience in ship launching. Contact us if you have such tricky issues with the launching slipway.

Other pre-launch conditions like power generation issues including the design & supply of diesel generator systems will also be discussed with our client.

Selection of Slipway Winch 

The force needed to support the vessel motion into the water will be determined by taking into account the sloping angle. This enables the team to find out the type and strength of slipway winch required to hold the structure in place. The decision of whether to use an electric or hydraulic winch is also very important. A hydraulic winch may be more expensive but might be more durable and more suitable in certain cases. Though it depends on the user and conditions. Pulley blocks, shackles, suitable wire rope types and necessary equipments will also be recommended if needed.

Pulling force plays a huge role especially for certain launching projects that require a slow and steady approach, needing the winch to be able to operate long periods of time.

Placing of Rubber Airbags

MAX team uses 3D projections to determine the placement of rubber airbags at ready-launch position.


This helped give a 3D view on how to evenly distribute the weight of the vessel/structure for maximum safety. MAX takes into careful consideration the distance between components and how to coordinate the metal strut/stand locations.

3D-printing is used for some of MAX’s vessel launch projects, too.

Launching of the Vessel

First time clients usually require MAX consultation crew to be on ground to help them launch their vessel. We are able to facilitate the whole preparation together with supervision of the launching process at a small consultation cost for our clients. Equipped with decades of experience in launching and careful projections, our team ensures the project success and the safety of the crew. With its advantages, launching of structures up to 10,000 Tonnes using this method is pretty common these days. It is widely acknowledged that these launching bags are able to be used up to more than 5 years and is super cost efficient compared to most traditional launching methods.

MAX Airbag launching process

This is a simple illustration of the popular airbag launching process. It started with a winch holding the vessel in place while airbags are installed between the hull of the vessel and the ground and then inflated. Then the pulling force is slowly decreased to enable mobilisation of vessel towards the sea line. At a certain point, the connection between winch and vessel will be released using MAX quick release shackle. The vessel, assisted by gravity and launching bags, will be launched safely into the sea with minimal risk. Please note that however, there are many different scenarios to cater to different situations and different vessels, so this is just an overall idea of it. For your projects, drop us an email so MAX team can assist.


You can visit MAX Marine Airbags page for more info on the product.

View a Youtube video of the launching of Sealink Asia 101 by MAX below:

MAX marine ship launch indonesia

Ship Repair Section

Like the ship launching method, the main concept and preparation process are both very similar, just the other way round. Most calculations are inverted and the core concept of having strong enough pulling force (in this case, hauling winch) is key to maintaining a steady hauling process for ship repair.

Understanding Principal Dimensions & Weight of Vessel

Similarly to the vessel launching process, the hauling in of vessel for repair projects require MAX to analyse its dimensions in detail. Launching weight, overall ship length and width are some of the aspects MAX engineering team would take under consideration. The design of hull and ship has to be considered as well for hauling process as structural differences can affect the types of airbags used.

Choosing Suitable MAX Airbags

Main dimensions and structural design of the vessel helps MAX team to recommend the dimensions, thickness, specs & number of airbags needed. When choosing the most suitable bags for hauling use, safety is our number one priority. Marine bags should not be overexerted. That is why MAX’s experienced technicians will add a percentage of weight contingency in calculations. This will add a ‘safety cushion’ also to accommodate any excess weight that the vessel may have added.

Next, detailed projections and careful calculations enable MAX to identify the bearing capacity per airbag. This figure is subsequently used to deduce the total number of bags needed, including extra bags for launchway mobilisation. MAX team will then use our in-house developed MAX Smart Ship Launching software to double-check the calculations.

Pulling Winch / Hauling Winch with Enough Pulling Force

Depending on the angle of the slope, the dimensions & size of vessel, a winch and the entire pulley system will be recommended to provide sufficient pulling force.

Ship Repair using Launching Airbags

Most of the process is similar to the airbag ship launching process. You can learn more about it here. Instead of launching the vessel into the water, rubber airbags help lift the vessel out of the water, supporting its movement towards the ground together with pulling force from the winch.

This innovative product helps boost a yard’s ship repair capacity without needing to invest in building another dry dock. A hard ground is sufficient to enable vessel hauling using airbags, and repair works can be performed at the same location. The entire hauling process is a delicate case-to-case situation. MAX’s experience and detailed projections will ensure a safe ship repair process.

These launching bags are actually used by MAX to solve launch way limitation problems, maximising the return on investment of our clients.


Marine Salvage Section

Marine Salvage is the process/project of recovering a vessel (ship), its cargo, or items after a ship wreck. This includes towing of a vessel, patching of a ship or re-floating a sunken/grounded ship. MAX Airbags is a popular product for re-floating a sunken/grounded ship. Marine salvage using rubber bags are mainly case-to-case studies where MAX technical team will advise only based on known facts. Here is just an idea of how MAX would assist in vessel salvaging projects.

Buoyancy Needed to Re-float Vessel

The in-depth study & calculations of buoyancy needed will be carried out by MAX. With this, MAX is able to advise on the size and type of MAX salvaging bags (There are custom made and very different when compared to launching bags with more emphasis on floating ability etc).

Depth or Water Pressure

MAX needs to understand the scale of the project and the magnitude of it to determine the strength & type of mobilisation/re-floating airbags.


We have worked closely with marine salvaging teams in many parts of the world since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Our experience in these projects would ensure the success of your marine salvage projects. So if you’re a marine salvaging team, contact us for high quality and reasonably-priced MAX rubber airbags.

View MAX Rubber Airbag page for more info HERE.

View all our other products at our main products page HERE.

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