Harken Industrial Seawork Exhibition Talk by Andy Ash-Vie

posted in: News | 0

Read below for a full transcript of Andy Ash-Vie’s Seawork talk











How more power and less weight benefits a company’s bottom line


Hello everyone, it’s a pleasure to be here. My name’s Andy Ash-Vie. I’m the Managing Director at Harken Industrial here in the UK.

Harken has been managing heavy loads through winch and pulley systems within the marine industry for decades, where lifting loads can involve anything  from 100 kg (220 lb) to 50-ton working loads.

At Harken, we are all about innovation—taking our knowledge in safety and load management from our sailing heritage and applying it to new industries!

Since 2009, we’ve taken our innovative approach into industrial markets, where people are looking to maximise their power-to-weight ratios, enhancing human efficiency by providing greater agility and mobility.

So that’s the world we come from.  But how does that apply to your world?


How many people does it take to rig a 15-ton horizontal pull?

TraditionallyYou’ve got a 15-ton winch and you’ve got a cable.

Imagine you’ve got to set up a one-off horizontal pull in a mobile operation. Perhaps it’s salvage where you need to set up a drag pull somewhere; perhaps it’s pulling a tank into a ship. Maybe it’s even something as simple as pulling a heavy tree out of a river.

Let’s cut you some slack. The nice thing is you’ve already got a winch in place, such as on a tractor unit or mounted to the vessel.

So using a steel cable you will need at least a couple of people to simply lift it and rig it. You are also going to need a pulley block, which will need to take a head load up to 30 tons. Ideally you will be working at a 4:1 safety factor, but as this is an emergency, perhaps we can reduce it to 3:1…

So we’re looking for a block with a break load somewhere around 90 tons where the weight of the pulley block will be around 142 kg (330 lb).

Of course, we all know we shouldn’t be lifting more than 23/25 kg (50/55 lb) per person, which means we need at least five or six people to put the block in place. Or we will need a forklift—that is if it can even get to the location.

Not exactly quick and nimble is it? This also involves a lot of people—you wouldn’t want to drop that on your toes would you?

Consider this situation throughout this talk, as it’s something I’ll come back to later on.


We all know the common problems that cost us money on our businesses’ bottom line:

  • Fatigue is implicated in 20% of workplace accidents.
  • From 2011-14 there were approximately 622,000 workplace injuries annually.
  • An estimated 16k workers withdraw permanently from the labour market each year due to workplace injury or illness.
  • Figures from the HSE (Health, Safety, and the Environment) show that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the biggest risk to British workers, with more than a million cases reported each year at a cost of more than £5.7 billion.

So the question is, what does it cost you to improve the safety and efficiency of operations for your operators? I’d argue it would cost you a lot more not to!


First, let’s take the human emotion element out of this question and keep it to economics. We are all decent human beings and don’t want to inflict pain on anyone,  but let’s just look at the economic questions for now.

  • What does it cost to replace an employee and their skills?
  • What are the implications, other than financial, of working days lost due to injury?
  • How can this be avoided?

The Harken Industrial approach to load handling is all about taking the weight, friction, and effort out of operations. If we can achieve that, we can certainly mitigate the impact on our bottom line through reducing injury, stress, and ensuring that we have a happier workforce .

Let’s have a look at a few more scenarios…..


Onshore rigging with Dyneema

You need to change out an aerial on a telecommunications mast. The aerial weights about 100 kg (220 lb) and it’s about 30 m (98′) in the air. The traditional way of doing it means that the rope access technician would first make a lead climb and set up ropes. The engineers would then climb up the structures, taking with them their tools and of course Snatch blocks etc. to handle the lift and drop.

They take off the old aerial, lower it down under control, then raise the other one up—a 100 kg (220 lb) lift which is not that easy to handle using wire and a traditional Turfour, or a heavy-duty capstan winch. Oh, and I forgot to mention the weather is terrible—cold and rainy.

Traditional way 2














Using a Harken Industrial PowerSeat, the engineers can get into location quicker, take the old aerial down with them under control, and easily lift the new aerial up , before descending quickly and safely.

Harken Industrial way












It’s taken a huge amount of effort out of the job as they don’t have to manually climb, which reduces strain and fatigue and shortens the weather window necessary to do the job.


Offshore rigging with Dyneema

I should imagine most people here know all about Dyneema, it is a fantastic material and  incredibly strong—as strong as steel wire. It’s lighter at a seventh of the weight, and brings in neutral buoyancy. It is kind on hands, backs and, in the event of catastrophic failure, it doesn’t whip explosively around like steel wire would.

So it’s a no brainer, why wouldn’t you use it everywhere?!

Of course as a fibre it is more vulnerable to chafe, and the biggest sources of chafe are rough surfaces and misalignment. If you use equipment designed for steel cable, you will have pulleys with rusty steel surfaces, you will have capstans with pitted aluminium drums.

So you need to make sure your equipment is matched with the rope that you’re using.

Ok, so you’ve done that.  But have you really taken all the weight out of it? You’ve taken seven times the weight out of the cable, but you still have the heavy old blocks and winches.

Traditional vs New
















Did you know weight is a cause of chafe? It is not immediately obvious, but when taking up the slack in a rope when the loads are light, if the pulley is heavy it will not align to the load. So the rope chafes on the edge of the pulley block. Making sure your equipment can align to the whole range of loads that it will be subjected to is a critical factor.

This then leads into a virtual spiral where if you take weight out of the rope and the equipment, of course, the whole ergonomics become much better. Thus we gain:

  • Faster set-up times.

So not only do you have huge operational advantages, which bring their own economic benefits, but by making the rest of the equipment match the weight saving of the Dyneema® rope saves your operators from strain.


So what are the facts?

Improved safety & efficiency = money saving on your bottom line

  • Utilising new technology such as the PowerSeat takes the strain, time, and fatigue out of working at height.
  • In the case of catastrophic failure, Dyneema is safer than steel cable.
  • Dyneema is as strong as steel wire, but you need the right tools to utilise its benefits.
  • More power and less weight benefits a company’s bottom line.


How many people does it take to rig a 15-ton horizontal pull?

Our customers’ old answer was a team of six, today they can do the job with just two people—one to operate the machinery winch and one to set up the rigging.

Old way vs new way












If you really think about operations in a holistic fashion, you can truly make your working environment safer, easier, and more productive. All of this will reward your bottom line.

Harken Industrial, making working life better through innovation

Dyneema is a registered trademark of DSM IP Assets B.V. L. L.C.


For more information contact us at:

info@harkenindustrial.com or call us on 01590 689 122