Located in Finland, A-Laskuvarjo Oy is a family company founded on the engineering expertise of Mr Uotila who has since passed his technical textile business down to his children.
With the literal translation of A-Laskuvarjo meaning parachute, the organisation’s routes lie in the design, manufacture and development of technical parachutes and parachute systems. Furthermore, the company has a plethora of expertise and experience in Spidernet portable vehicle arrest systems and aircraft arresting barriers for use by the police force and military, utilising highly engineered textiles for safe stopping and secure arresting abilities. The knowledge gained from 30 years in these vital industries led to an investigation into the oil and gas market, where the company has now been providing Frictape helideck landing nets and perimeter safety nets for nearly seven years.
Jaakko Uotila, sales and technical support manager of the company, outlines its capabilities in the offshore industry: “We have gained a mass of experience from working with technical textiles in demanding environments and we have learnt to apply our knowledge to those operating in the North Sea, where the majority of our offshore business now sits. Our main client base includes BP, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Statoil, and I think the main reason we have been able to attract such big names in such a short time is because of our engineering background. The fact that we have involvement in a range of alternative industries means we can draw on experience from other regions and challenges. We are also set apart from our competition by the fact that we are persistently exploring new ideas and testing potential materials, we stay in advance of the latest industry safety regulations enabling us to supply the most up-to-date technologies.”
All of A-Laskuvarjo’s products are custom made to fit a client’s exact specifications and constant R&D takes place to offer the latest discoveries. The offshore helicopter landing net is made in sizes ranging from six by six metres, upwards and in a range of differing shapes. The typical eye size of the net is 20 by 20 centimetres and the net sits at a height of four centimetres from the deck. The specialist construction allows personnel to walk safely on the net and wheeled carriages with loads to be moved over it easily. Additionally, the modern strong materials enable the smaller sized nets to be handled by only one man, reducing handling costs and down-time. This also means the net can be easily stored away when not in use and swiftly re-instated when the need arises. The packages of all the company’s landing deck nets are designed to fit through normal ship doors, an asset that any conventional knotted rope net finds impossible, regardless of size. Such Frictape landing nets advocate the safety of offshore helicopter transport by securing helidecks on offshore structures and seagoing vessels, eliminating the risk of helicopters sliding or personnel tripping to net.
In addition, A-Laskuvarjo produces helideck perimeter safety nets, which are designed according to the strictest standards with a tested pull through force of over 6000kg. Designed to incorporate the same strong and weather resistant materials as the landing nets, the perimeter safety nets are able to be under continuous outdoor use for many years.
Currently the company is looking to more lightweight materials to create an extremely tough and resilient yet convenient landing net, as Jaakko explains: “Research and development is a mainstay of the company and is something a majority of our 20 employees are dedicated to. We are especially proud of our state of the art testing and design laboratory. We work very closely with our customers during the design process but we also have an aftercare service where we will make visits to platforms to ensure our products are performing at optimum levels. We first entered the oil and gas market in 1991, but we decided to have a break of ten years due to the fact that we were struggling to make our product known. After re-entering in 2002 we have made great progress and we want to ensure this continues. We are currently developing a new lightweight technological textile that will aid in our future expansion.”
Indeed, A-Laskuvarjo has had a number of lucrative contracts with customers such as Shell to outfit all of its North Sea platforms with perimeter safety nets, and though a relatively small company in a global industry, the organisation is always looking for the potential to expand. Its main facilities in Finland are quite small and yet some of A-Laskuvarjo’s key customers are based in Indonesia, expecting the same expert service as those operating in local markets. The company has plans to enter the ever-increasing South East Asian market and furthermore create a base in United Arab Emirates, though this is subject to the business gaining more sales and overcoming some major hurdles. Jaakko highlights: “Our product is best-in-class in the industry, but some would say it’s also the most expensive. However, this is not the case when looking at the total cost of ownership (TCO). In places where low-level standards are acceptable any form of netting can be used making our competitors cheaper. We have been quite successful in highlighting this problem across the industry and the benefits of our experience and our products are clear. When you are able to identify the downsides of products that are designed only to fulfil those low-level standards it gives you the ability to modify your own range to make it the best and we hope this will make us the supplier of choice.’
Looking to the future, A-Laskuvarjo will continue to utilise its experience in the military and law-enforcement industries to create long-lasting and resistant products that make helicopter landings on offshore structures safer and more stable. Lightweight solutions will make construction quicker and easier, while continued close relationships with key clients will lead to more long-term contracts such as those with Shell. Once the economic crisis has relaxed its hold on the market, Jaakko is hoping to open up to three more factories with one more in Europe and further facilities in South America and South East Asia.
Products Safety netting