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Monthly Archives: January 2012

BESPOKE SOLUTIONS WIN US A NEW DEEP SEA CONTAINER PORT CONTRACT

By Richard Hepworth, Managing Director, Trelleborg Marine Systems.

We’ve long considered the need for bespoke solutions and tailored systems to be a key success factor in an efficient and safe port environment. Indeed, we saw further evidence of this when we at Trelleborg won the contract to supply 86 super cone fender systems, 59 mooring bollards with a 200 tonne capacity, and 41 safety ladders for a deep sea container port that handles the largest container ships in the world.

Our solution was chosen after we worked with the port to carry out an in-depth analysis of vessel data and berthing speeds.

Our high-performance Super Cone fenders will be specifically designed for this port to accommodate berthing angles up to 10°, bow flare angles up to 15° and for the latest generation of container vessels with a displacement of 225,000 tons.

The first of the fenders for the container terminal is scheduled for delivery early this year, with the contract scheduled for completion by the end of 2013.

I’ll leave you with some words from one of our area sales managers, Andy Cope, who worked on this project: “We have future-proofed the terminal through the positioning of the fender system.  Therefore, as and when container ship sizes increase, a greater number of fenders will be engaged, absorbing greater levels of impact energy.”

“We have specified the highest quality materials in the design of the fenders, including specialist rubber compounds which have been formulated at our state-of-the-art Singapore facility.  Our in-house capabilities mean that we are able to develop bespoke, yet cost-effective solutions to meet individual project requirements.”

BREEDING A CULTURE OF LOOKING AT LONG TERM COSTS

By Richard Hepworth, Managing Director, Trelleborg Marine Systems


Encouragingly, over half of the 260 port decision makers polled in our recent Barometer Report believe that maintenance budgets will increase over the coming year.  Additionally, 90% of owners, operators and contractors cited maintenance as a critical or important factor for consideration in the upgrade of port operations. This is especially good news considering that over a quarter of respondents attributed a decrease in the levels of port-side maintenance to budget pressures.

Cause for concern?

However, the importance placed on maintenance overall does not seem to be translating to the specification of berthing, docking and mooring equipment.  The report shows that when asked specifically about procurement of such products, only 4% of respondents believe maintenance to be the most important consideration – ranking it sixth on the list of priorities. In fact, its perceived importance in the purchase of docking and mooring products has declined by 5% compared to the 2010 Barometer Report.

This suggests that there’s work to be done across the market to breed a culture of looking at long term costs.  We are increasingly seeing a lack of focus on whole life costs and when you factor in the low prioritisation of maintenance, it’s sure to store up trouble ahead for ports.

Short term savings, long term implications

Despite good intentions, it seems that short-term cost savings are taking precedence when it comes to specifying berthing, docking and mooring equipment. There is clearly a gap to bridge between understanding the importance of maintenance, and the actions taken in practice.

Berthing, docking and mooring equipment is a vital component in the safety and efficiency of the port environment, so it’s essential that specifiers give these products the significance they deserve.

Speculate to accumulate

Moreover, by sourcing high quality, low maintenance products at the outset – rather than taking retrospective action only when something goes wrong – port owners, contractors and consultants can avoid unnecessary risks and costly downtime.  Certainly a focus on maintenance at the beginning of the project will naturally lead to whole life cost savings.

If you’re interested in gaining further insights into marine industry predictions for 2012 and beyond you can download the latest Barometer Report here www.takesthepressureoff.com/barometer2

We’d of course welcome any comments or feedback on the survey outcomes and your experiences of sourcing quality berthing, docking and mooring equipment.

BUY CHEAP, BUY TWICE: LOW COST SUPPLIER ISSUES EXTENDS FURTHER THAN PORT INFRASTRUCTURE

Guest contributor, Andy Hatton, owner of Global Anodes UK Ltd shares his story.


I have seen a fair bit of discussion raised by Trelleborg in the last few weeks about the issue of low cost suppliers and it’s a topic that really strikes a chord with me.  There are a lot of parallels I can draw between the issues that Trelleborg’s Barometer Report brought up and my experiences.

Years ago, when working for another company, we were frequently undercut on equipment by “low cost” replicas. However, when the equipment failed, ship owners or managers would still call us to put it right.

We would always go above and beyond to help a client, dispatching engineers for the cost of a flight and a hotel in the (naive) belief they would come to us for systems next time they were building new vessels.

In reality, they got so used to us running around doing our best to keep their substandard equipment running, that the next six ships in the series would be fitted out with the same cheap rubbish as before.

After about three years we had no choice but to start saying no, that we weren’t prepared to do this for nothing and if they wanted our engineers they’d have to start paying for the service.

Another drawback to our willingness to help was that in many cases the equipment we were called in to look at was of such poor design and quality it was not economically viable to attempt repair, if indeed it was repairable at all. It became a serious concern for some of our engineers, they started to feel we either looked incompetent or as if we were lying just to make a sale when all we could do was say; “Sorry… you need to rip out all the old system and replace it”.

Before this, we’d always maintained an excellent world wide service base out of profits from the spares and systems we sold. If a client called with a problem we could usually have an engineer on a plane and on his way to meet the ship within 12 hours (in one case in 45 minutes when I had to be in Turkey for a hand over that had to be concluded that day).

We’d started to lose the equipment business, and slashed our margins so much just to compete, that our service facility gradually disappeared; the profits were simply not there to maintain it.

Worst of all, we start getting calls saying things like: “We had your engineer on the other day and he didn’t know what he was doing.”  This often came as news to me, as I was in charge arranging all engineer attendances worldwide.

Further investigation revealed that the Chief Engineer or similar would ask purchasing to get him the “anodes guy”, and purchasing would either just book any Joe Bloggs who happened to live locally or go for the cheapest quote – usually resulting in unqualified people we had never even heard of going on board vessels with the Supers and Chiefs believing they were our engineers. Until it was too late.

As a final note, the worst case scenario I experienced. An “engineer” attended a vessel in Pusan; he turned out to be some guy from a domestic appliance repair shop (apparently a contact of a company we had traded with previously.) I had a very angry Superintendent screaming down the phone at me until I explained that his company had not even spoken to us about their problem or requested an engineer… never mind sent a purchase order for a service attendance. Apparently this so called “fake” engineer even had business cards with our company logo on them.

Global Anodes UK Ltd is an independent company that is owned and operated by engineers with a range of experience in marine, offshore and industrial applications.

Global Anodes offers trouble-shooting solutions to corrosion and bio-fouling problems.