Future of drystacking for marina industry
Marina and Yard
Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Marina Industry Insight: Taking Dry stacking to the next level

Nowadays, there are several boat storage options available depending on the boat’s length and how the boat owner plans to use the boat. Of course, a boat owner can storage at home on a trailer or in the garage or in a marina berth. But for more convenience, a dry stack is a great option as well.

Dry stacking of boats and yachts started in the 1960s and for a long time the concept hasn’t changed much. However, the past years dry stack storage is making serious inroads in marina planning, offering consumers top service, optimum safety and security, and hassle-free boating. The modern buildings are feats of architecture; automated and semi-automated stacking systems have new sophistication; and forklifts go electric.

In the METSTRADE TV TechTalk ‘Dry Stacking to the next level’, Oscar Siches (Marina Expert, representing Marina World magazine), Augusto Carosi (Director Drysta Europe) and Robert Brown (Director GCM Constructing) talk about the future of dry stacking. This article sums up the highlights. Watch the full session via our virtual platform METSTRADE Connect >

Advantages of Dry Stacking for the Marina Industry

According to Oscar Siches, Robert Brown and Augusto Carosi, there are some hidden aspects of dry stacking that are not so obvious for most of the people but could be a big advantage for both marinas and boat owners.

  1. Since starting in the 60s, the principle stays exactly the same: going upwards saves space. When you have limited space and many boats to store, the only way to go is upwards. For marina owners this could even mean more revenue: by moving boats to a dry stack, the wet slips come available which allows a marina owner to put bigger boats in there with thus more revenue as a result.
  2. The environmental aspect: dry stack storage is a sustainable solution. Since boat owners do not have to put any (extra) anti-fouling or other paint on the hull with possible harmous elements that could pollute the water, dry stacks help to keep the ocean clean.
  3. Boats in dry stacks are completely sheltered and safe. The concrete is a big advantage in case of e.g. a hurricane or a fire. Inside the concrete cells the fire stays where it originates and doesn’t spread immediately.

More over, for the boat owner it’s much easier to wash the boat down and do regular checks of the hull and running gear than when you have your boat in a wet slip.

The Future of Dry Stacking

For a long time the concept of dry stacking hasn’t seen much change. Oscar Siches: “We’ve always done it a certain way and there hasn’t been a focus on innovation that could help the whole operation to be better. We, the marine industry, we are a little bit too conservative on that matter I think.”

Switching to electric cranes

Switching from traditional forklifts to electric cranes has some great advantages. Not only because of the sustainable aspect, but it reduces the noise as well. On the coast, you do not want to hear the noise of forklifts, so the electric cranes is a great solution for that. More over, electric cranes gives marina owners the opportunity to automate the process now or in the future.

Full and semi automation of dry stacks

When talking about the future of dry stacking, another interesting development is automation of the process and moving from polluting forklifts to full electric cranes. Electric cranes makes the automation of the repetitive process easier. If you're storing same size boats, in the same place, the process isn't very complicated. When you start getting different size boats and people coming and going, it adds to the automation complexity in the software engineering that needs to be implemented. That can drive the cost considerably. However, semi automatic dry stacking, in which some movements and or decisions will still be done manually, is great start and option as well.

Smart cranes and artificial intelligence

Another exciting development in dry stacking for the marina industry is the use of “smart cranes”, which assigns boats to the best spot available at the moment and not to its original place. Oscar Siches: “The automation Robert Brown is using (ASAR technology) has one particular thing that has not been used before. Normally when you book a place in a dry stack, you get a certain space assigned and that is your place. This crane, which is made in Europe, doesn't assign fixed places to boats but places them in any available space. Which makes it a hell of a more flexible operation and is a big difference for the performance of the whole system.”

You could even take it a step further by adding a bit of artificial intelligence. Cranes could then learn patterns. For example, the boats that go out three times a year get stored in the back and the boats that go every weekend could go a bit more to the front. It might not earn you more money, but it does give the client a better experience when they get their boat quicker.

Focus on aesthetics

Besides automation of the process, there’s another challenge for the future according to Robert Brown. “The advantages of concrete buildings and automation is the fire ratings, the hurricane ratings et cetera. But one of the big things that we need to overcome from a dry storage aspect is the aesthetics and to make them aesthetically pleasing. We’re trying to focus on blending the building into the architecture or the scenery of a particular town or a particular marina.”

This article gives you a sneak peek of the METSTRADE TV session 'Dry stacking to the next level'. Watch the full session ‘via our virtual platform METSTRADE Connect to get more interesting insights on dry stack storage. Watch full session >

Photo: Gulf Star Marina

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