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.