At a time when markets are still down, ship owners need to address maintenance concerns head on and turn to suppliers they can trust. That’s the message from Peter Peltenburg, Group Director of Cargo Care Solutions, worldwide supplier of spares and services for hatch covers and RoRo-equipment.
He has seen a lot of activity in the industry over the last few months, with customers keen to look at alternatives and shop around for the best price. Yet what they are seeing often surprises them as they find that the best value for money solutions aren’t always to be found in the Far East.
“Customers today demand a trustworthy partner”, says Peter. “They are looking for suppliers who are proactive, supportive and who understand their business. The key to meeting these needs is using a supplier with an understanding of the challenges of this fast moving environment, and you can only do this by getting out into the marketplace – attending shows, meeting ship owners and investing in the best possible customer service.
“In the last few years we saw business move from Europe to the Far East but companies are beginning to pull back as manufacturing costs in the Far East are rising. This is a big component of supplier’s costs and very soon we may even find it more cost effective to buy in Europe again where processes have been optimised and you can factor in the customer service element.”
Peter also believes ship owners should carefully assess their maintenance needs. “You can only put off maintenance for so long. For example, as the market begins to move we will see more and more owners pull their vessels out of lay-up. Our challenge is to make the market aware that over time components degrade – we have seen some vessels in bad shape. The hatch cover rubber packing is particularly vulnerable and might be permanently compressed after a long lay-up. The last thing you want when putting a vessel back into service is leakage on the hatch covers.
So with these challenges ahead, there are a lot of opportunities for the business. As Peter says, ”Our company uses manufacturers we can trust, who share our vision and allow us to react quickly and deliver consistent quality. This strategy has worked well for us and we have seen it working for our clients as well.”