How Solarglide is helping ships stay safe in the sun

Rebecca Gibson asks Paul Pringle how Solarglide’s anti-glare bridge sunscreens help crew members to safely navigate cruise ships and passenger ferries

How Solarglide is helping ships stay safe in the sun
Solarglide’s retractable anti-glare marine sunscreens are custom-made to fit the exact shape and size of individual windows

For many people sailing at sea, bright and sunny weather is ideal, but it can cause significant challenges for the captain and other members of the navigational team.  

“The bridge features multiple expansive windows, and bright sunlight or reflections from the ocean shining directly into the area can impair crew members’ vision and cause glare on computer screens, making it difficult to navigate safely,” says Paul Pringle, managing director of window treatment solutions provider Solarglide. “In addition, strong sunlight shining onto multiple panels of glass will quickly turn the bridge area into a scorching hothouse, making it unbearable for crew members to work.  

To combat this, Pringle advises shipowners to install anti-glare sunscreens. “Anti-glare sunscreens block direct sunlight, but still allow crew members full visibility, thereby reducing the risk of collisions,” he explains. “They also help to moderate the temperature of the bridge area, enabling crew members to stay cool and productive, even when sailing in tropical climates. Not only does this significantly improve the employee experience, but it also enables shipowners to turn down air conditioning systems, which will result in long-term energy and cost savings.”  

Designed specifically for the marine industry, Solarglide’s retractable anti-glare marine sunscreens are custom-made in the UK to fit the exact shape and size of individual windows and are available in four colours – gold, silver, grey and bronze. Customers can choose cassetted and non-cassetted sunscreens that are operated manually, or hardwired motorised or solar-powered options.  

“We specialise in developing solutions for angled or awkwardly shaped windows, and we can manufacture screens up to 3.5 metres in width, which is ideal for ships with large forward-facing windows,” says Pringle. “The array of available operating mechanisms ensures that the sunscreens remain stable, even when the ship is sailing in adverse weather. They’re also quiet and have been vibration tested.”  

Crucially, adds Pringle, Solarglide’s sunscreens are fully compliant with Safety of Life at Sea bridge navigation regulations. They were also the first in the world to be type approved for use on navigational bridges by Lloyd’s Register. 

“While some window coverings on the market look great at a glance, they actually do very little to combat heat and glare, but type approval reassures customers that our sunscreens are safe and will perform as expected,” says Pringle. “Lloyd’s Register carries out stringent tests to analyse how much heat is absorbed and/or reflected by the sunscreens, the percentage of light transmitted into the interior space, and the reduction in glare and ultraviolet light. When Solarglide became the first to obtain type approval for bridge sunscreens, we raised the bar in terms of the quality of sunscreens on the market.” 

Solarglide collaborates closely with each client to ensure they can find the sunscreen that best suits their individual requirements. Customers can visit Solarglide’s website to access detailed images and information about each individual product, as well as videos showing how to correctly measure their windows and downloadable enquiry forms. If they require additional assistance, customers can either provide Solarglide’s team with technical drawings, sketches or photographs of their windows, or request for one of the firm’s UK-based engineers or international agents to carry out an onboard survey. 

“We aim to make the process of purchasing and installing our sunscreens as simple and efficient as possible,” says Pringle. “Our internal sales team is always available to support clients through the entire process, guiding them to find the best possible solution. Most clients fit the screens themselves with the help of our comprehensive installation guide, but we also have a large team of skilled engineers that can travel worldwide to complete installations if necessary. They’re particularly experienced at supporting outfitters on projects with short deadlines.”  

Multiple cruise lines and passenger ferry operators have already reaped the rewards of installing Solarglide’s antiglare marine sunscreens on their vessels. 

“Our sunscreens are on passenger ships sailing for clients around the world, including San Francisco Ferries, BC Ferries, Balèaria, DFDS, P&O Ferries, San Francisco Ferries, Trasmapi, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and many others,” says Pringle. “Most recently, we installed them during refits onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder and Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess. 

“We always receive positive feedback, with clients saying: ‘How did we ever live without sunscreens?’ and ‘wow, what a difference the sunscreens have made to the temperature onboard the bridge’. It’s clear that Solarglide’s antiglare sunscreens truly are an essential product for any ocean-going vessel, particularly cruise ships and passenger ferries with large numbers of vast windows.” 

This article was first published in the 2022 Autumn/Winter issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.   

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
23 September 2022

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