Surviving the winter blues: The durability of marine buoy lights in ice

February 15, 2023

When it comes to ensuring the safety of seafarers, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA) takes no chances. FTIA is a Finnish government agency responsible for the maintenance of Finland’s waterways along with road and rail. The agency has taken a remarkably proactive role in testing its equipment for safety and to avoid substandard equipment replacements that cost taxpayers money.

In the far north during periods of harsh ice conditions, the durability of a buoy lantern is essential. As ice masses move with the water currents, the buoy lanterns are pushed down under the pressure of the ice until they are submerged. Then the lantern presses up against the ice mass from the lift applied to the buoy from below until the ice mass passes, and the buoy can freely float back into its intended position.

The buoy lanterns must be able to withstand pressures of up to 65 kN, making their durability crucial in these conditions. The shape, size and anchoring method of the buoy and water depth all play a role in determining the load caused by the ice.
FTIA contacted Solar Simulator to perform arctic ice tests to check the durability of their marine buoys and signal lanterns under challenging ice conditions in Finland. By getting more information on the effect of ice loads, they could select lantern devices to ensure the proper physical durability with no limiting factors on lifetime. Such sturdy devices could reduce failures, leading to improved safety, reduced maintenance costs and lower environmental impact by minimizing the need for servicing the waterways.
By conducting these tests, FTIA hoped to get valuable insight on the safety and cost effectiveness of the lantern devices to share with all relevant stakeholders.
“We wanted to have validated testing results, so that we openly discuss any issues or concerns with our  stakeholders,” says Sami Lasma, Specialist of Waterways at FTIA. “We were pleased to have proof of the performance of our maritime buoys and their lantern devices carried out by an independent third-party testing expert.”
Solar Simulator took the lead as the coordinator of the testing project for all parties involved in the final buoy lantern. These included the engineering company Elomatic, Sabik Marine, the manufacturer of the special buoy lanterns, Engineering Office Petteri Oy and Pansion Peltinurkka.
All test results were published as a report, in a video and included in the online SOSIFI service, Solar Simulator’s proprietary platform for transparently sharing test results with others. The tests not only guarantee the safety of vessels traveling in harsh winter months but also save taxpayers money by reducing the need for frequent replacements of substandard devices.
FTIA’s proactive approach in testing the durability of their marine buoy and lantern devices is a prime example of placing importance on ensuring the maritime safety and cost effectiveness of its equipment. By working with independent testing experts, FTIA can provide its stakeholders with confidence that the agency’s equipment is up to the task of facing even the harshest winter ice conditions.

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