Cargo Holds of dry/liquid bulk carriers require a certain degree of cleaning when changing cargo. Such cleaning is time-consuming and at times, a hazardous task for the crew, which can be performed mainly while in port. The risk of not being sufficiently clean can be a big influencing factor. So, a consistently high cleaning quality is necessary when i.e. grain clean is required. By cleaning the majority of the cargo hold with a magnetic crawler, you can reduce the cleaning time, increase safety, reduce risk, and clean while in open water.

Therefore, VertiDrive, in close cooperation with partners from the field, has worked relentlessly over the past years towards a new solution called the VertiDrive M8 Cargo Hold Cleaner. We have packed the cargo hold cleaning robot with the latest VertiDrive innovations, and tested it to operate in the most demanding environments. The controls are designed to be intuitive for operation by a crew that is not necessarily experienced to work with (semi-) automated equipment.

cargo hold cleaning robot





Cargo Hold Cleaning

Why are Cargo Holds Cleaned?

The regular maintenance and cleaning of bulk carriers are considered to be an essential part of retaining a consistently smooth operation. As mentioned, this is especially important within the heavily used cargo hold area which securely houses products throughout the duration of voyages. Ship cargo hold cleaning, according to regulatory requirements, must be conducted every time a shipment is unloaded and before the next load of product is placed into the hold. There are various explanations as to why this is deemed important such as:

1. To View Hidden Vessel Damage: Cleaning the cargo hold regularly ensures that any visible damage recently caused can be viewed and subsequently tested. Failing to clean the hold can potentially hide existing damage and present a risk to the product being transported, the health and safety of the crew and even, to the bulk carrier itself.

2. To Prevent Cargo Contamination: This can be seen through insufficient or lack of regular hold washing. When contamination is found by a port/vessel’s inspector, they are likely to restrict the movement (and thus the productivity) of the subject vessel and crew until an efficient cargo hold clean has been carried out. Furthermore, if by chance an inspection of the cargo hold is approved when contamination is present, the next shipment of product will likely develop contamination by being in contact with the unsanitary space.

– For example: If the remnants of sugar from a previous shipment is not cleaned away properly, that sugar will ferment. Now when we place a new batch of sugar to be transported into that hold it will also very likely become fermented. From here the best case scenario is that a percentage of the sugar would have to be discarded (wasting much time, money and sugar) and in the worst case it could potentially be consumed (causing a spread of serious illness, hospitalization).

3. To Avoid Additional Costs: It may be obvious by now that many additional costs subsequently arise when cargo cleaning is overlooked. Product can be lost, the vessel itself can become damaged, excessive quantities of time can be spent and additional safety risks can increase. All scenarios will dramatically add to the costs of shipping goods. Cleaning the cargo hold is a simple step towards preventing these scenarios and any of the costs associated.

Cargo Hold Cleaning

How are Cargo Holds Cleaned?

The cargo hold is most often cleaned through manual labor. The cleaning system varies with its order from vessel to vessel but in general: a sweep of the hold area is completed, the walls of the hold are rinsed with fresh water/cold sea water and finally, a special cleaning additive is applied to all surfaces to remove any tough residue. The process of manual labor involves the expense of a lot of manpower, time and fails to guarantee complete efficiency.

However, the most noteworthy problem with manual cleaning are the health and safety hazards that are associated with it. As cleaning workers are required to physically enter the cargo hold to conduct the clean-up, the overall likelihood for human error sourced accidents increases significantly. Maritime surveyors demonstrated this through the statistics taken from a total of 4104 ship oriented accidents analyzed, 65.8% were caused by human actions. Alongside this, from all accidents that currently occur on bulk carriers, a massive 50% are happening within or around the cargo hold area. The most common hold-cleaning accidents are slipping, falling and loss of control of machinery. In short, manual cargo hold cleaning is a dangerous task which puts crew members at significant risk.

Fortunately for ship owners and H&S staff, the VertiDrive team has counteracted hazardous manual labor efforts by producing remote controlled cargo hold cleaning equipment such as the Magnetic Robot Crawler, the VertiDrive M8.

Cargo hold cleaning solution

The VertiDrive M8

The VertiDrive M8 is an innovative remotely operated cargo hold robot that assists with cargo hold cleaning that is safer, faster and more cost-efficient. High pressure water jets reduce cleaning efforts down to just a single pass with the overall cleaning chemical and water usage minimalist substantially. Powerful magnets allow the M8 to securely operate across surfaces including locations based at an overhead, in corners, and on curvetures with zero loss of grip. The M8 needs an operator to set up, manage and supervise the cleaning. This operator can be based at a safe distance and is the only person required for the cleaning thus, heavily minimizing labor associated costs and health and safety risks.
The VertiDrive M8 is:


  • Up to 8x faster than manual work,
  • Wirelessly operated,
  • Up to 80% cheaper to operate,
  • Consistent with quality,
  • Distributed by a global team providing 24/7 technical support
  • Makes ship cargo hold washing safe, fast and economical.
  • Does not require chemicals.



vertidrive m8 cargo hold cleaning solution


Cargo hold cleaning solution: high pressure washing

  • 1200 mm (47.24″) Cleaning width
  • Adjustable cleaning programs
  • Handles corners at ease
  • Fits between the frames

Let's get in touch

Contact Details

Vertidrive logo

Phone: +31 10 763 02 00

Gieterijweg 15
3089 JZ Rotterdam
The Netherlands

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