‘I love the challenge, the scale and the diversity’
At its peak, an astonishing 1,200 people were directly involved in the engineering and construction of the pipelay vessels for Sapura Navegação Marítima (Sapura) in Krimpen aan den IJssel. “We had one vessel on the slipway, one was being commissioned and the third vessel was in the sea trial stage,” says Eric Gret, project manager during the construction of the last three of a total of five vessels. He can think of only one way to describe the project: a challenge.
“But that is exactly what drew me to Royal IHC: I love the challenge of the projects, the scale, the diversity in technology, and the people,” says Eric. “And I can honestly say this has been the most challenging project in my career.”
The most pressing aspect was the tight timeframe the vessels were to be delivered in. The construction of the first of five vessels for Sapura started in 2012 and the last will be delivered in 2016. In order to comply with the set schedule, IHC has been constructing the vessels concurrently. “This basically means that we have been working on as many as three vessels at once,” says Eric. “Before the first vessel was launched, we were already building sections of the second one next to the slipway, and so on.”
On spec, on time and within budget
“As a project manager, it is my responsibility to make sure the project is delivered on spec, on time and within budget,” Eric explains. “My role is to coordinate the entire process: I am the central point of contact for the customer, and I instruct not only our own production teams, but also our contractors and suppliers, in order to make sure everything is delivered on time. I am the lubricant that makes sure the engine runs smoothly, and that all parties can operate – and co-operate – as efficiently as possible. It really is a team effort.”
One of the greatest moments for Eric was the handover of the SAPURA ÔNIX (the first vessel of the second contract) to Sapura. The passkey was not the only thing the captain received during the official ceremony. “Along with the keys, we gave him our last contractual delivery: an iron,” says Eric. “A truly integrated vessel obviously cannot go without an iron to keep the captain’s uniform in splendid condition.”
“I am incredibly proud of that fact that the handover of the SAPURA ÔNIX took place on the exact date we had agreed on in the contract two years earlier,” Eric concludes. “I am confident we will deliver the others within schedule as well.”