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Nautical gangplank in FRP: solidity, lightness and resistance in the marine environment.

The Challenge

The port of Palermo is one of the Mediterranean’s largest ports for passenger traffic as well as for size, and in recent years, it has seen a strong increase in the volumes of cruise traffic. The Port Authority of Western Sicily, in the context of activities aimed at improving the functionality and security of its port facilities, has identified the need to equip itself with dolphin mooring, or briccola mooring to be connected to the quay. The structure of connection between the mooring post and the quay had to be resistant to the presence of brackish water, to atmospheric agents and to treading. It is in this scenario that the engineering and productive experience of P-Trex takes over for the realization of the nautical gangplank.
P-Trex, Business Unit of Fibre Net Spa, specialises in the design and manufacture of profiles, structures and fences in composite materials (FRP), which are used in many industrial sectors as a replacement of conventional materials aimed at the improvement of the product. All the P-Trex profiles and structures are produced by Fibre Net Spa, a leading company in the market for structural reinforcement, strengthening, improvement and seismic retrofitting of existing buildings and infrastructures.

P-Trex’s solution

After the construction of the pedestrian walkway that is among the longest in Europe located on the river Alenta in the province of Benevento, P-Trex was chosen for the engineering and manufacturing of the nautical gangplank for the port of Palermo, an environment that is different from the previous one, since the level of corrosion due to the constant presence of brackish water is very high. The use of pultruded profiles in FRP turned out to be the best choice thanks to their excellent mechanical performance combined with a high resistance to corrosion, factors that contribute to prolonging the useful life of the structures and minimising their maintenance. It is known, in fact, that the useful life of a FRP product in a brackish environment is quite comparable to that of a similar stainless-steel product, but with a decidedly lower cost. In addition to the construction of a 22-metre FRP jetty resistant to corrosion, P-Trex’s engineering experience has proven to be fundamental also in the development of a multi-axial floating point capable of withstanding the expected considerable stresses without compromising the necessary mobility.

The Outcome

The structure, with a total weight of about 4 tons for a length of 22 metres, measuring 140 cm in width for a height of the reticular beams of 180 cm, was sent in 2 elements that were pre-assembled in the Fibre Net production plants and subsequently remounted on site. Thanks to its lightness, it was commissioned in just two hours with the help of a mobile crane and a team of six operators.

The Benefits

The use of FRP material in the marine environment brings immediate benefits as well as long-term advantages.
The lightness of the structure and its manoeuvrability have allowed the operators to finish the installation work easily and quickly, despite the bulky dimensions of the object. The multi-axial floating point is able to cope with the considerable stresses caused by the docking of ships, without losing stability as well as being able to guarantee the required mobility.
Considering the level of “aggressiveness” of the marine environment towards its adjacent structures, the ultramarine blue gangplank of the P-TREX S line made of FRP, has proven to be the best solution, since it is able to guarantee an excellent resistance to chemical and aggressive agents, as well as to atmospheric agents and UV rays.
By not requiring painting or surface treatment, its appearance will remain unaltered over time.

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