Elevating business

Combifloat Systems B.V. is the exclusive supplier of modular Combifloat pontoons, a flexible modular floating and elevating construction system, eminently suitable for coastal and inland waters. By means of a special but simple coupling and locking system, the units can be assembled to any projectspecific configuration. The unique coupling system is easy to handle and strong enough to be used in Self Elevating Platforms with deck loads up to 1000 MT.

The fleet at Combifloat currently stands at 14 units, which are graded as C5, C7 or C9. “We have four C5 Self Elevating Platforms, which are predominantly used in the geotechnical arena, as well as Combi 144 beight C7 class platforms and two C9 platforms,” explained Bas de Jong, Managing Director of Combifloat. “In addition, some time ago we completed the design of a new selfelevating platform, which is dedicated to the oil and gas industry. We also have a vast number of modules that we can turn into floating elements such as barges, jetties and bridges.”

Combifloat has another four C7 Self Elevating Platforms under construction, plus it is considering building another two C9 class units as well. “We usually build our fleet on speculation,” added Bas. “We recognise that short delivery times are giving us an additional edge we need to stay ahead of our competition. We see the marine construction market growing as a result of economic growth and so we took the decision to build another four units in preparation for the future.”

In fact, since Energy, Oil & Gas last featured Combifloat in 2015 the company has upgraded various features of its platforms and designed new spud wells and other equipment. “With the spud wells we have increased the stroke of the cylinders so the actual jacking speed is faster, which is a serious benefit when operating the platforms. We have also completed and upgraded the design of the C1500/C2000 Self Elevating Platforms, which are suitable to operate in water depths up to about 65-70 metres.”

He continued: “We are now looking at supplying a new modular Self Elevating Platform in between the C7 and C9 class, in around a 600-ton deckload range. We have completed the design already so it’s just a matter of pushing the button and off we go – I anticipate this will happen before the end of the year.”

Many of the improvements and new product developments were made in consultation with clients and this sort of customer feedback is imperative to Combifloat – as Bas noted the company can’t exist without its clients: “It’s obviously very important that we listen to them. We do consult with a number of potential clients so we can make sure we address their needs. As ours is a modular Combi 144 csystem we can adjust elements to meet project specific requirements, but if they require something really special then we are happy to help.”

Combifloat will also assist clients with jacking engineers if required, and is able to develop or to render services in operating the units. “Quite often our customers are repeat customers, which means they just need the technology as they are already familiar with how it operates,” added Bas.

All of the platforms already supplied by Combifloat are in operation across the world, with the company exporting more than 95 per cent of its products. “We have rental units operating right now in Europe, the Mediterranean, Israel, the Caribbean, the Caspian, South America and the Middle East and we have sold units to clients all over the world, including Australia,” Bas highlighted. “We have actually recently been quite busy in South America and the Caribbean, and we see business picking up in the Med and West Africa as well as India.

“Oil and gas has been down for obvious reasons over the last couple of years and we don’t predict a serious pick up in the next 12-18 months as a result of the continuous low oil prices. But subsequently we have seen an increase in economic growth resulting in a number of big infrastructure projects such as harbour developments, bridges and tunnels where we can play our role and be of assistance with our flexible and cost effective products.”

Illustrating this point, one of Combifloat’s C9 platforms is currently operating in the Falkland Islands on a harbour development for services related to oil and gas. “We have another C9 operating in Bahrain for a very major marine construction company,” added Bas. “The marine construction market is positive, and we continue to see opportunities in that particular market segment.”

While the past two years may have been busy for Combifloat in terms of product development, it has also implemented a new ERP system. “We developed this from scratch, as we had a lot of existing procedures that we had to integrate into the system, and while it’s still a bit too early to quantify the effect it will have I am confident it will certainly have a positive impact on our performance. We have simultaneously upgraded all our internal processes eventually resulting in further increased service level towards our clients,” concluded Bas. “2017 is looking good – we will probably be back at pre-2016 business levels. Going forward we want to focus on our continuous natural growth. We will continue to look at the right acquisitions or adding existing jack ups to our fleet. We have the means available to grow and we are certainly planning to make use of those.”

Products: Combifloat pontoons