Kristofer Grimnes is the development manager for Harbor Technologies of Brunswick, Maine. Grimes, his brother and his father started Harbor Technologies in 2003 when demand grew for longer lasting, environmentally friendly building products for the marine infrastructure market.
What role has innovation played in development of your floats?
Floats are a dock that is not attached to land, and I am certain others had made fiberglass floats of some kind prior to us, but we feel we were the first to commercialize the product and make them with state-of-the-art construction methods adopted from the boat building industry. The floats were developed from one project to the next, always tweaking the process and materials in an effort to improve the product and reduce the cost. This same development process continues today for all of our products and that process makes Harbor Tech a fun place to work.
What process is producing optimum results?
We predominantly vacuum infuse our HarborPile products, which is a more environmentally friendly, efficient and cost effective manufacturing process than the traditional hand lay technique used in the composites industries for many years. The process was adapted and modified, and the molds and materials used, to manufacture the beams, but generally speaking it is all existing technology. Like any evolving manufacturing process, there is always a little bit of art, mixed with science, to getting everything to work right, which is only learned through experience.
What is the role of composites in bridge beams?
We have worked with hybrid composite beams over the past five years to help develop and refine the beams and their manufacturability. The challenges have been many, mostly revolving around efforts to remove cost whether in materials or processes and market growth. It’s always a challenged to get your foot in the door, so to speak, and gaining entrance to the many infrastructure markets that could benefit from composite beams. But the development process is enjoyable and rewarding, particularly as we see the beams gaining traction in a number of infrastructure markets such as piers, wharves, bridges (both rail and highway), runway extensions over water and buildings—particularly for highly corrosive environments such as chemical storage warehouses or sewage treatment plants.
Are the challenges faced prohibitive?
Probably the biggest ongoing challenge is cost reduction, as we try to be more competitive with traditional materials and gain acceptance for everyday use rather than select projects.