Midlands company’s South Pole mission
Midlands company’s South Pole mission
Legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has praised a West Midlands company’s ‘amazing’ thermal insulation equipment which helped to protect his team on an ambitious trek across the South Pole.
Sir Ranulph’s expedition, called The Coldest Journey, hit the headlines when it became the first attempt to cross the Antarctic continent in winter.
He selected Tempro®, the market-leading thermal insulation product invented and produced by Seymour Manufacturing International (SMI) of Sutton Maddock, near Telford, to insulate the team’s portable homes and scientific research pods.
Sir Ranulph said: “Accommodation for the six-man team was in converted and highly insulated steel shipping containers.
“Every detail needed to be considered and the very best equipment employed, and after scouring the market and testing in winter conditions in Sweden, Tempro® was selected to provide an insulating external cover for these accommodation units.
“These bespoke covers were tailor-fitted over the steel containers and were the first line of defence against the elements. Tempro® was also used to make a tent for each of the large bulldozer vehicles and these were unfolded from the roof-racks to provide shelter for vehicle maintenance and repairs.”
Sir Ranulph added: “The team spent 10 months in Antarctica and conditions in the winter were extreme, to say the least, with three months of total darkness, temperatures down to minus 55 centigrade and winds of up to 70mph.
“The Tempro® cover was quite remarkable, for not only did it provide the vital insulation to keep the team warm but it also withstood the frequent winter storms.
“After months of extreme cold, relentless wind and the battering from drifting snow there was no visible sign of either stretching, wear or abrasion to the fabric whilst the insulation appeared to be as effective as it was to start with.
“It really was amazing. and without doubt the team’s winter would have been a lot less comfortable had we not used this excellent product.
“When conditions are that harsh it’s incredibly reassuring to know that you have something you can depend on and it was certainly one less thing to worry about.”
Sadly the team did not succeed in crossing Antarctica in winter, but Sir Ranulph said they had pushed the boundaries far beyond was had been done before.
He said SMI’s Tempro® had played a key role in ‘the beginning of a new era of polar endeavour’.
SMI chairman Brian Seymour admitted that, when he was first approached by the explorer, it was a rather daunting proposal.
“We knew this meant taking Tempro® and the SMI team well out of our comfort zone. Nonetheless, always keen to take on a challenge, we agreed to make a first cover and put it through initial testing in Sweden.
“The results in testing were quite astonishing. We were in temperatures of minus 40 Celsius, yet inside the covers the temperature recorded (after just 10 minutes of heating every five hours) was plus 10 degrees Celsius . . . a temperature difference of 50? Celsius!
“As one of the reporters present at the testing commented, this makes Tempro® something of a ‘wonder material’!”
In its normal environments of food retail and manufacturing, Tempro® is often deployed because of its ability to save significant amounts of carbon and avoid energy loss.
It can be used to provide thermal cover to transport temperature sensitive goods; as cold room curtains it can help prevent energy loss; and used as ceiling-hung temperature control zones it can create a cold room in alien conditions.
Even the UK’s Ministry of Defence has recognised its value as an outstanding insulator which can avoid thermal imaging.
SMI was founded more than 30 years ago. It already has a blue-chip list of clients in the supermarket sector for its innovative temperature-controlled curtains, cold room doors, modular temperature-controlled zones and pallet covers.
The company also makes thermal insulation systems, roll cage covers and pallet covers, thermal covers, bags and boxes.
Tempro® remains unchallenged as the world’s thinnest and most thermally-efficient material of its kind, making it a popular choice in the food and logistics industries.
Most recently, SMI has also seen its Tempro® product range branch out into new markets, including the transportation of Blood Bank products, and pharmaceuticals. SMI sells across the world, and is expanding its export business this year.