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Alternative Fuels

In her latest blog, Sarah Spivey, the managing director of Modulift, sticks with old faithful, looks again at risk management and prepares to launch a new below-the-hook product.

With this advisory blog in mind, I make notes throughout the month as events unfold and learning experiences present themselves. I will remember this month for much more than the quadrennial 29th day (or leap day).

Few industries enduring a downturn would continue to command the attention that oil and gas receives despite the state of the market. But such is the sector’s ability to deliver mega orders for heavy lift equipment and its undoubted long-term importance, it has again been a major talking point of the year so far.

Just when diversification was looking like the new buzz word, the phone rings and we receive an order for more custom below-the-hook equipment from old faithful. In this case the order was for two 303t capacity, 6.8m span custom subsea spreader beams for the Kraken project, one of the biggest subsea heavy-oil field projects under development in the UK sector of the North Sea.

Even at the time of writing, the industry was the topic of conversation as our local distributor, Bullivants, reported positively from the Australasian Oil & Gas Exhibition & Conference, which took place 24-26 February. They are featuring Modulift equipment at Stand B18 and many are talking about an imminent upturn in activity, particularly off the west coast of the sprawling island.

Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the optimism, as I was when I saw a photo of Bullivants’ exhibit, the focal point of which was a huge Modulift spreader beam hanging from the top rigging at the Perth Exhibition Centre. Visibility remains important regardless of the state of a marketplace but our bright yellow beam hanging above the aisles could be a sign of things to come.

Traceability

During the opening day of the show I received a telephone call from a long-standing contact in the region who frequently facilitates the use of our equipment on heavy lift projects in Australasia and Asia. He sought a manufacturer’s perspective on copycat products, which was discussed by decision-making service providers, engineers, technical professionals and suppliers in attendance.

He was primarily looking to educate his Asian contacts on detecting copied equipment. Our manufacturing processes, for example, incorporate risk assessment and traceability so users can be assured of excellence in fabrication and production, complementing our guarantee to oversee the build and strategy to the highest levels of competency.

That’s not a sales pitch (this blog remains non-commercial) but it is a timely reminder of the role product design and manufacturing play in job-site safety. I was happy to share with my contact ways to check if Modulift equipment is genuine in the hope that he can impart this knowledge on other product sectors.

Actually, we don’t have a huge problem with copycat products to the extent one might in the low-end hoist or rigging products sector, but if distributors or end users are ever in doubt they should contact us so we can walk them through our equipment and quickly decipher if the spreader and components, for example, are as they were manufactured and intended for use.

Risky business

Risk has come up a lot recently. Before delivery of the Kraken project referenced above, each item of equipment was required to be sent for inspection to DNV GL AS, formerly known as Det Norske Veritas AS, a global provider of knowledge for managing risk.

Risk assessment also featured in the first module of the Chartered Director Programme at the Institute of Directors (IOD) that I started recently, as discussed in last month’s blog. The module principally focussed on corporate governance, broadly referring to the mechanisms, processes and relations by which corporations are controlled and directed.

We already have our ducks in a row due to the work we do with ISO but I suggest companies look again at their procedures. Even based on the IOD course matter digested so far, we’ve taken certain processes to another level and introduced additional policies, forms and risk assessments. It surprised me (not for the first time this month) how much further we could go in certain areas to mitigate risk, particularly around activity related to sales. I bet readers of this blog would find it eye-opening too if they dared to delve a little deeper into the guidance available.

Of course, we all want to remove distraction from sales professionals so they can focus on the task in hand, but this a key area to focus on, especially at an international business like ours. For example, we have improved understanding across the team about regions where marine cargo and credit insurance are problematic, thus, special attention must be given to shipping and payment terms.

The Chartered Director Programme continues to enlighten and challenge me as I prepare to tackle finance, marketing and leadership in upcoming modules. Marketing used to occupy me 9-to-5 and regular readers of this blog know how passionate I am about brand exposure. Others would have seen our advertisements, follow us on Twitter, or read about us in magazines. However, I’m still excited about the marketing-themed module and know there’ll be something to take away from it—there always is. Don’t take an ‘I already know this’ approach to education or training.

Tower power

We are set to unveil our first new product of 2016 in the coming weeks. We recently circulated a press release about an innovative one-over-two-over-four spreader beam configuration we designed to lift four non-standard pallets for a construction project. It’s a sector we’re increasingly interested in and one that appears ready to embrace new technologies and concepts.

As tower crane cabs become more high-tech and state-of-the-art camera systems are delivering video from the hook block to the operator, the time is right to introduce new below-the-hook equipment to contractors and tower crane professionals. Tower cranes are considered by many as the most important but potentially dangerous piece of equipment on a construction site and, as with most lifting applications, a lift on a high-rise project is only as safe—and efficient—as the connection between the hook and the load. Watch this space.

As we launch new products and apply them in industry, we’ll continue to share success stories and case studies by way of educating our audience and promoting sharing of information for continued improvement of best practice. Next month, our marketing team will circulate a photogenic article about Swiss crane rental company Senn AG using two Liebherrs in tandem, each with a Modulift spreader beam below the hook, to lift a refurbished bridge into position crossing the Aare river in Bern, Switzerland’s capital.

What has been your lift of 2016 so far in terms of its effectiveness in communicating safety and efficiency gains that could be applied to other applications?

Follow us on Twitter—@ModuliftUK—and use the hashtag #belowthehook to engage. You can see the blog archive at Modulift.com/Blog

Sarah Spivey
Managing Director
Modulift
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