- Operations - Shedding the tents

By Dario Schiavo

Shedding the tents

Cantiere Rossini’s Alfonso Postorino discusses the yard’s new state-of-the-art wooden painting sheds…

During the last edition of YARE 2024, specifically at the Passerelle Pitch event where participating companies competed by presenting their most innovative projects, I was impressed by the presentation given by Alfonso Postorino, shipyard director of Cantiere Rossini. He showcased their state-of-the-art 70-metre-long painting sheds, which stand at a height of 28 metres.

Located in the Adriatic Sea, in Pesaro, the Rossini shipyards, named after the famous composer, are one of the most important refit yards in the area. In recent years, the shipyard has made significant investments to build an ultra-modern facility and enhance the efficiency of refit work.

The decision to locate the shipyard in Pesaro was strategic, given its proximity to Fano and Ancona, two cities that host some of Italy’s most important yacht-building yards, such as Ferretti and Cantiere delle Marche. This proximity becomes advantageous due to the profitable sharing of know-how and contracting companies in the area.

“We focused on building a modern, state-of-the-art construction site that paid special attention to sustainability,” says Postorino during my visit to the yard. “This is how the idea of wooden sheds came about. We also wanted to consider the environment surrounding us: being very close to a beautiful beach and a stone's throw from the Regional Park of Monte San Bartolo, we couldn't just opt for the typical concrete structures. We felt a responsibility to the city and acknowledged the challenging global context marked by pollution and climate change.”

Alfonso Postorino, shipyard director, Cantiere Rossini

These new sheds are exclusively designed for painting vessels, which is one of the most delicate and crucial activities in refitting. It is essential for maintaining yachts in top condition and preserving their beauty.

Postorino explains that “painting is a crucial segment of refitting because it involves safeguarding the value of the boat, which today, more than ever, is linked not only to the inevitable hints of corrosion over time but also to its aesthetic appeal.”

Those familiar with refitting understand the importance of maintaining control over elements such as temperature, humidity and dust to ensure a high-quality job. Therefore, it is essential to carry out this work in an environment that meets specific parameters. Often, in boatyards or marinas, one sees large plastic cocoons, tents designed specifically for painting.

However, working under such a structure presents numerous challenges. Consider, for example, temperature regulation: the cocoon does not effectively shield the interior from external temperature fluctuations, resulting in energy dispersion during heating in winter and overheating in summer due to sun exposure.

Additionally, preventing water infiltration proves difficult with cocoons. These factors guided Cantiere Rossini’s decision to invest in efficient sheds: the importance of working optimally and under ideal conditions, which not only facilitates the work of the applicators but also guarantees superior results.

Postorino explains the main characteristics of their sheds that allow them to maintain these important standards. “Our sheds are insulated with wood and rock wool, with a thickness of 15cm. For example, when we turn off the heating in the evening, we see that the temperature drops by just one degree by the morning. Additionally, the heating system, fuelled by renewable energy, is highly sophisticated. The shed is equipped with a heat pump, and all the energy we use to start it up, as well as the energy used within the shipyard, comes from certified renewable sources. The pump utilises seawater as a geothermal source, leveraging the slight temperature difference between the water and the ambient air to reduce heating costs.

“Everything is monitored 24/7 by temperature and humidity sensors. The heating system is equipped with automation that adjusts the pump according to actual needs, resulting in significant cost savings because heating is activated only when necessary, for the required duration, and to the necessary extent. The ideal painting temperatures range from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius. For humidity control, we have a water spray system inside the heating ducts, ensuring that the air inside is not dry but purified. The relative humidity level must be maintained between 60 and 70 per cent; neither lower nor higher humidity levels are ideal. It goes without saying that for a task like painting, humidity control is crucial.”

What particularly struck me during YARE were the economic advantages that such an advanced and high-performance system provides.

“The cost difference between heating inside a shed like ours compared to heating inside a cocoon is substantial and leads to significant savings. Let me provide an example: in January, for two similar boats, we spent 5,000 euros inside the shed, whereas under the cocoon, we spent 20,000 euros, and we couldn't even maintain the same conditions.” Not to mention the expenses for scaffolding, wrapping and, finally, dismantling.

“Other shipyards also have high-performance sheds for painting boats. For instance, Monaco Marine has an even larger shed than ours, but it is not insulated,” says Postorino. “Lusben in Viareggio has a paint booth, but it is smaller. Working in a shed like ours is a definite advantage for any applicator, even in the most mundane stages such as washing the hull or assembling the scaffolding.”

Moreover, the sheds’ floors are constructed with a specialised slope, directing water towards a collection channel. This design streamlines the drying process and simplifies the collection of water tainted with paint residues and dust. Subsequently, this water is channelled into a collection tank for appropriate treatment.

Construction of the shed began immediately after the lockdown, in May 2020, with the first boat entering it in winter 2021. “It was a very swift operation,” says Postorino, “partly due to the shed's wooden structure.”

The prefabricated elements were assembled on site: the arches composing the shed's structure consist of three pieces, transported to the site by special transport, with assembly operations completed very quickly. The company responsible for constructing the wooden structure is XLAM Dolomiti, a Trentino-based company specialising in wooden constructions, including large-scale ones

It’s interesting to understand the cost difference between constructing two standard sheds and two wooden sheds, and particularly the added value these constructions offer in terms of economic return. Postorino explains that the savings are approximately 20 per cent, primarily attributed to the systems installed, the shed’s insulation and its aesthetic appeal.

Regarding future plans, Postorino shares that the company is considering further investments abroad but cannot disclose more at the moment. The promise is to reconvene soon for another discussion about the latest developments. Refit is advancing steadily, propelled by technology, sustainability and an increasingly dynamic market.

The introduction of specialised sheds for painting vessels represents a significant leap forward in refitting. Looking ahead, Cantiere Rossini's exploration of further investments abroad hints at a promising future for the industry, driven by technology and sustainability in the ever-evolving world of refit, with more to come in the very near future.

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Cantiere Rossini

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