‘Our success is enabling them to succeed’
Wim Westdijk is Service Manager Latin America at IHC Services. “I love working around the world, and the broad scope – in terms of products, vessels and equipment – is what makes Royal IHC a great company to work for,” says Wim. “Moreover, when working at IHC, you are given the opportunity to fulfil your career ambitions and to continue growing professionally.”
One of the projects Wim has been involved in is the training, service and guarantee for two cutter suction dredgers (CSDs) delivered to the Santo Antônio Dam project in Brazil. “This project was immense – our customer is building a major hydroelectric power station on the Madeira River in Brazil,” Wim explains. “During its busiest period, over 35,000 people were working on this site. Dredging the river is only a fraction of the total project. However, it is a crucial part. Therefore, the customer requested high levels of productivity, and it was up to us to ensure their success.”
River of wood
It wasn’t just the immensity of the project that posed a challenge, but also the conditions the project was carried out in. “The name of the river, Rio Madeira, means ‘river of wood’,” says Wim. “The river is very wide, has an incredibly strong current and, on some days, even waves. Following bad weather, the river would be full of broken trees from the surrounding rainforest. The tough environment, the remote location and the size of the job required special measures.”
IHC delivered two customised Beaver® dredgers, the JATUARANA I and II, for the job. “My part in this project began at the moment the dredgers arrived,” says Wim. “At that time, I was Manager Service and Guarantee. I made sure our team was on site and ready to unload the dredgers, put them together and immediately start training and operations. Furthermore, I was the commercial contact for any warranty issues.”
According to Wim, the close cooperation between the customer and IHC, along with the dedication of the people involved, is what has made this project a success. “Our dredge masters and engineers have worked incredibly hard to solve any technical issues, and to transfer their knowledge and expertise to the local work force,” says Wim. “And the locals, in turn, were great students.
“Take, for instance, the maintenance manager. He worked in a concrete plant before starting his job at the dam, and didn’t know anything about dredging. But when I visited again last year, I saw that he had not only put what he had learnt into practice, he had actually made small adjustments to the Beavers in order to work even more effectively in the extreme conditions. It is great to see that these people have developed into such skilled dredgers.”