Ulf Milberg’s prize-winning trolley makes descaling easier

Thanks to the needle guns being fastened to a specially constructed trolley, able seamen on the Ortviken can now walk upright when they are at descaling surfaces. The simple but ingenious idea was hatched by able seaman Ulf Milberg and one of his colleagues last year.
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Thanks to the needle guns being fastened to a specially constructed trolley, able seamen on the Ortviken can now walk upright when they are at descaling surfaces. The simple but ingenious idea was hatched by able seaman Ulf Milberg and one of his colleagues last year.

uppfinning
The trolleys reduce loads and vibrations from both needle guns and angle grinders.

Ulf Milberg was only 16 when he signed on in 1972 at the Sahlén shipping company in Karlshamn. Standing for hours on end and removing rust was no problem then, he says, but over the years work using the needle guns felt increasingly heavy and has started to affect his body.
– We have a large weather deck and when you are kneeling or sitting on a stool to chip off rust week in and week out, you start to notice it. You feel stiff in your knees and your back in the evenings.
Last summer he and the boatswain, Bo Sundman, gave some thought to how to avoid the uncomfortable, crouching position of work. The solution was a trolley to which the needle gun was fastened and a long handle.
– We made the trolley out of pipes and pieces of steel we found on the ship and the only thing we had to buy were the wheels. The bosun could weld and it did not take him long to put it all together, says Ulf Milberg.
During almost 40 years at sea he has worked on a large number of ships, including coolers and tankers, bulk carriers and working ships. He has been with Transatlantic’s combined RoRo/container ship Ortviken for the last 12 years. They sail along the Norrland coast, which suits Ulf Milberg very well, being born in Umeå.
”You don’t question so much”
– Every time we stop in Umeå my wife comes onboard. She usually takes the local newspaper from home and we have time to talk to each other for a while, he says.
He likes the fact that the ship sometimes moors for long enough for him to go ashore. Even though he seldom has the time to make any long excursions, occasionally it feels nice to walk on land during the six-week long tours of service.
– I usually cycle down to the newspaper stand and buy a newspaper. That is enough for me, he says.
He explains that the work environment has got a lot better since he started work at sea. Automation in harbours makes loading and unloading less heavy work, and safety equipment has become a lot better and is used much more nowadays than in the past. But descaling is done in the same way as when he started 37 years ago, despite the serious occupational injuries that it causes. Ulf Milberg describes how his brother had to go ashore after he got white fingers due to vibration injuries caused by the tools onboard.
– And yet it is still done in the same way, and nobody asks many questions, he states.

Ulf Milberg
Ulf Milberg
Age: 53
Home: Tenant/owner flat just outside the centre of Umeå
Family: Wife, 18-year-old son and a 33-year-old daughter from an earlier marriage.
Work: able-bodied seaman on Transatlantic’s Ortviken
Background: two terms at the Marine School of Härnösand. Since the age of 16 he has worked on a large number of ships in different sectors such as tankers, cooling ships, bulk ships, working ships and RoRo. Korshamn, Arawak, Coralla and Okturus are just a few of the ships he has worked on.
A good work environment is important because: you feel better and avoid injuries.

But by mounting the needle gun and the angle grinder on a trolley they have managed to significantly reduce the problems involved in descaling. As well as providing a more comfortable working position the vibrations are not felt at all, says Ulf Milberg. Exposure to dust and noise is also much less since your head is much further away from the work surface.
– Other crewmembers that have tried the trolley were satisfied. But we need to adjust the handle so that it will suit people of different heights.
Prize from the Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation
He says that they did not take their invention very seriously and points out that it was only built to make their work easier. But the Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation considered that the design was so interesting that the inventors were awarded 20 000 SEK at the annual awards ceremony in Göteborg in May.
– It really means a lot to be given this appreciation and to know that there are other people who think we did something good, says Ulf Milberg.
Linda Sundgren

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