Following demanding evaluation trials, KNRM (The Royal Dutch Lifeboat Association) has ordered 12 class 50 DuroWipers for the latest four hulls of its newbuild KNRM 18m RIBs.
Currently in build at the Habbeké Shipyard at Hoorn in The Netherlands, the Valentijn class of aluminium-hulled rigid inflatables are the latest purpose-designed and built coastal search and rescue vessels from a design family well known for its legendary seakeeping ability.
Noel Gould, CEO at DuroWipers is clear on the important role that high quality windscreen wipers play on vessels of this nature: “As these are cabin RIBs, the performance and reliability of their wiper systems are fundamental to the success of their search and rescue duties. Indeed, we’ve been told that aside from major engine or safety equipment issues, the only other thing that would stop these boats putting to sea would be a wiper problem. For search and rescue, it really is that critical to be able to see out of the screens at all times and in all weathers.”
With this in mind KNRM undertook a multi-stage testing program with the DuroWipers. Hans van der Molen, technical department manager at KNRM, reported that the sea rescue organisation evaluated the DuroWipers for use on its coastal lifeboats following an initial positive experience with DuroWipers on its Nh1816 prototype lifeboat.
Search and rescue is a tight knit community internationally, hence it was no surprise to UK SME manufacturer DuroWipers that KNRM originally discovered their products through direct recommendation by the RNLI- the UK’s largest sea rescue institution and a hugely influential organisation worldwide. For the past decade the RNLI has been using Class 50 DuroWipers on its Shannon class all weather lifeboats, and has been so impressed with the performance and reliability of these wipers on the Shannon it has also has signed a nine year contract to steadily refit its older Severn class vessels with the same dependable systems.
The three Class 50 DuroWipers being supplied for each of the KNRM boats will come with DuroWipers’ standard commercial three year warranty. Most wipers supplied to the commercial marine industry come with just a one year warranty, but DuroWipers have been designed and engineered to outlast any other wipers on the market and are already well proven in the demanding search and rescue and military sectors. Reflecting this confidence in the product, along with UK manufacturer DuroWipers’ pride in supporting UK institutions, the RNLI receives a ten year and lifetime warranty on its wipers while the Royal Navy enjoys a lifetime warranty on its wipers.
Dutch boatbuilder Habbeké has been working with KNRM for 33 years, from the construction of the first aluminium hulled all weather Valentijn class cabin RIB. Orm de Waart, Owner/ Managing Director of Habbeké Shipyard stated that: “Following a trial/refit on a Valentijn class vessel, we decided to go further with DuroWipers as it’s a high quality and proven system. We’ve had some experience with some competitor products involving broken wiper arms, drives and control issues that we believe will be much less likely to occur with DuroWipers.”
The key technical difference from other pantograph wipers sold into the commercial marine market is DuroWipers’ patented twin drive rotary mechanism. This converts the rotary motion of the motor, to a reciprocating motion via transfer box to the wiper arm. It gives a maintenance free, smooth, powerful and reliable performance, explains Noel Gould: “Other marine pantograph wipers only drive one side of the mechanism with the other side of the mechanism just being a lazy arm to maintain the vertical angle of the blade. This sets up an inequality of forces across the driven and undriven sides of the pantograph that can work OK for a while, but causes accelerated wear and potential problems in the long term. It’s this fundamental design difference, along with our construction from 316 stainless with top quality marinized fittings throughout that explains not only DuroWipers’ slightly higher price, but also our greatly increased reliability and much longer warranty.”
Driven by a 24 Volt 50Nm Motor, the compact Class 50 DuroWipers as specified for the KNRM Valentijn RIBs are designed for high speed vessels that are likely to take green water on the windscreens on a regular basis, but where mounting space is at a premium. A unique stroke motion ensures a quiet and smooth blade action, with each stroke accelerating and decelerating giving blades and arms a longer life.
Noel Gould concludes: ”There are few more demanding roles for a marine windscreen wiper than aboard a high speed, all weather search and rescue boat, and in the KNRM we are delighted to have yet another household name in sea rescue organisations give DuroWipers the nod of approval.”
DuroWipers’ four wiper sets order with KNRM is due for fulfilment up to Sept 2024, with a further three wiper sets likely to be ordered in 2024.