IHC Handling Systems V.O.F.
Handling the goods
Set up in the Netherlands in 1955, with its offshore activities taking place onboard the drilling jack-up ‘Shelf Driller’, working for Dutch company NAM, IHC Handling Systems has more than 50 years experience operating in the oil and gas markets, working on over 1500 offshore projects.
A part of IHC Merwede’s technology and services division it has a reputation as an innovative, problem solving company well versed in dealing with various offshore installation and removal challenges: “Today we are a global player in supplying handling equipment for the installation of platforms, pipelines and offshore windmills. Heerema Marine Contractors, Saipem, Swiber, Global Industries, JRayMcDermott, all global installation contractors, are just a few of the clients we work with,” reveals Marc Doorduin, sales manager of IHC Handling Systems.
As part of the wider IHC Merwede group, IHC Handling Systems has a great deal of interaction with sister companies IHC Hydrohammer a producer of hydraulic hammers, and IHC Sea Steel a developer of sub-sea piling solutions. As Marc highlights, being associated with such a large group has its benefits: “Obviously IHC Handling Systems is a very well known name in the industry and of course it helps when a big company is supporting you financially. It also has big machine shops that we can use as and when we need too.”
This doesn’t mean IHC Handling Systems is merely trading off of its parent company’s name, in fact a large part of its success comes from its work in research and development: “We have recently developed a cutting shear to cut bracket pipes in the water when decommissioning oil jackets. This isn’t being supplied as yet, but it is on the drawing board. We have also been working hard to increase the capacity of our lifting and levelling tools. We have just signed a contract to upgrade one of our customers’ lifting tools to have a 2000 tonne capacity, which is the biggest you will find in the market at the moment. Another order we have is for four Internal Lifting Tools (ILT’s), each with a capacity of 1750 tonnes, which again is very unique,” explains Marc.
Another technical development for the company has been the installation of structures with the use of ILT’s, which can operate in ultra-deep waters. The uplift in customer demands for equipment that can operate at increasing depths has led IHC Handling Systems to evolve the design and capabilities of its internal and external lifting tools and hydraulic release shackles. These tools now represent the first range of products that have been adapted from working at a maximum depth of 200 metres to be operational at 3000 metres.
Involvement in the pipe laying market has been a feature of the company since the mid 1990s and since then the supply of equipment to pipe laying contractors has risen massively. Demand for pipe recovery and abandonment tools, bear cages, pin release systems and cable connectors remains strong and with more companies moving into deep water operation, IHC Handling Systems has responded by designing new equipment able to withstand these extreme conditions.
In 2005, IHC Handling Systems took its first steps into the removal market, taking advantage of increasing Government demand for the professional decommissioning of structures, jackets and pipe lines. The first project it took part in was the removal of the flare tower of Shell’s Brent Spar and projects the company have completed since have demonstrated one of its key strengths: “We are known in the industry as problem solvers,” Marc emphasises: “Customers knock on our door, not specifically requesting equipment, but describing the problem they have, and we invent a solution equipment-wise.”
This strength is best highlighted in the challenging removal of a complete jacket structure using buoyancy tanks that IHC Handling Systems undertook. Using its employee’s skills, a system was engineered that comprised connecting the tanks to the jacket structure using hydraulic grippers and hydraulic pull-in systems. After pumping out the water, the jacket foundation piles were cut and the structure was floating again.
While many businesses throughout the world suffered through the economic downturn, IHC Handling Systems weathered the storm surprisingly well as Marc points out: “We didn’t suffer any damage during the recession. Rather than see a downturn we actually remained stable throughout and 2010 was a very successful year for us.” This means the company can now look towards the years to come: “We are already the major supplier of rental equipment on the market, but we want to increase further and we want to be bigger. We have a hub in Singapore for rentals that we want to grow as the Asian Pacific market is getting bigger, so that’s our goal for the short term.”
IHC Handling Systems V.O.F.
Services: Production and supply of handling systems