The importance of steel in the shipping industry – how steel has changed over the centuries

In years gone by ships were made from wood and if anything, metal only played a part in the structure of the hull. Unlike the ships today, ships back then were primarily used to transport goods like spices and silks to all corners of the globe. There weren’t different decks and quarters for all the staff and fresh supplies were kept in the “cargo” hold which, due to the length of the journey, would invariably go off and cause sickness amongst the crew. Canons were used to protect the ships from pirates and of course, having ships made out of wood, made them easily destructible. Oh my, how have times changed! Now ships are made from steel and due to them being more reliable on open water, has led to a boom in the shipping industry as a whole!

It hasn’t been plain sailing using steel in the shipping industry either. We only recently have the technology and equipment to produce a more highly fabricated steel for the building of ships which makes it easier to work with and of course easier to weld. This is referred to as thermomechanically processed steel. There are numerous advantages to the use of thermomechanically processed steel one of which is the reduction of welding man-hours which has been of great concern (from a cost factor) in the shipping industry. Other advantages include:

  • Reduced plate thickness
  • Saving weight in the final structure
  • Greater effective loads during use
  • Cost savings in welding and fabrication

How has steel changed to take the environment into account?

As more concern is growing for the environment, so has the concern for the steel used in the manufacturing of ships. We have all seen the stories on the news with crude oil tankers containing cargos of oil and how, when they are stranded or damaged, the oil seeps into the ocean causing countless damage to the eco-system of the ocean and all the wildlife.

Lately, more attention has been paid to the safety and durability of ships as well as the protection of the sea environment. This has led to the development of new structural steel plates which has resulted in corrosion resistant plates for double hull tankers. Crude oil tankers are now required, by law, to have the double hulls in order to prevent oil spillage. Further advancements have been made to prevent the corrosion on the upper decks of the ships as well. As this new structural steel is lighter it allows for a weight reduction in the ships, thereby reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The shipping industry as a whole are making a more conscious effort to play their part in reducing their carbon footprint in our oceans.

Structural steel that can be used in other industries

The advantages of this new structural steel has now allowed it to be used in various other fields in the steel industry such as civil engineering and for the construction and manufacture of bridges, rail carriages, tanks, pressure vessels and for use in nuclear, thermal and hydroelectric plants.

For the experts in steel products and steel sheeting you need to contact Steelmor Industries. From steel pipes to metal sheeting, Steelmor Industries will have what you need for any project or construction. To find out more about the products and services on offer through Steelmor Industries, visit their website www.steelmor.co.za

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