22 June 2018 • Gideon Wille
Magnetic support bar awarded Best Port Idea
Third-year Engineering Physics student, Peter van ‘t Veer, was presented with first prize for Best Port Idea 2018 on 7 June. He developed his winning idea, a magnetic support bar for fencing during his internship at the company, McNetiq. The fence does not need to be welded, which does not damage the ship’s deck and saves costs for a welder.
The magnetic support bar is based on McNetiq’s magnetic scaffolding anchor. Magnetic fencing is less expensive than fencing that requires welding. Making and removing a welding joint costs around 175 euros. The magnetic support bar is more expensive initially, but that investment is recovered after using it only two times. It is also safer than welding because there is no risk of fire or toxic smoke. In many cases, fencing is required during maintenance work due to health and safety regulations (fall hazard). The magnetic fencing can not only be used on ships, but also for storage tanks, for example.
Under the supervision of his internship supervisor, Peter spent several months developing his basic idea. “I started by taking a look at the standards and legal requirements,” he explains, “after which I calculated how strong and large the magnets needed to be. In the technical document, I clearly described what the fence would look like, its dimensions and the materials used. I then sent these specifications to a manufacturer, who is currently working on a prototype. I’m now finishing up the final weeks of my internship, but hope to be able to test the prototype before too long.”
Peter was given a great deal of freedom. Naturally, the internship supervisor and inventor of the scaffolding anchor, Bas Gravendeel, stopped by once a week, but Peter did most of the work himself. “It’s fantastic that I got to work on my own project as an intern. It was not an internship where you do all kinds of odd jobs. At such a small and innovative company, you can really have an impact on a project, whereas at a large company, you’re more of a cog in the wheel.”
Apart from the freedom, Peter was also given a lot of responsibility. “I needed to order a thousand euros worth of magnets. It was important to choose the right materials, and I had to consider the price and quality of every part.” Being somewhat shy, Peter found it challenging to contact suppliers, but realises that this is also a part of the learning process. “I didn’t just focus on physics, but did lots more.”
It was a surprise for him to get as far in the competition as he did. “The other participants were from much larger companies, like an algae farm. Their entries were more ideas, while our product is much further in the development stage. So, I can understand why they chose my project. But If you had told me at the start of my internship that I’d be standing on stage holding a prize at the end of it, I would never have believed you.”
Twenty percent of the prize money, a thousand euros, is being donated to charity: Stichting DierenLot. This animal welfare organisation is a logical choice since Peter has four dogs, three of which were street dogs rescued from Romania. The prize is a wonderful and unexpected recognition of an internship that Peter enjoyed tremendously. “At the end of your internship, you hold a genuine product in your hands. You don’t just leave behind something on paper, like all kinds of Excel sheets with measurement results. What makes this internship especially rewarding is that when I walk around the port in the future and see the fencing, I’ll be able to say: I helped create that.
Peter van ‘t Veer: “If you had told me at the start of my internship that I’d be standing on stage holding a prize at the end of it, I would never have believed you.”