Piping without hot work
With over 30 years of experience, GS-Hydro is a leading supplier of high-pressure piping technology and engineering services.
The company originated in Finland, but its successful track record has since led to expansion and projects around the globe. Indeed, GS-Hydro is established in 17 countries, and, owing to its network of partnerships, operational in manymore. The company employs approximately 650 piping specialists around the world, and last year, enjoyed a turnover of 142 million euros.
Terho Hoskonen, GS-Hydro’s sales and marketing director, explains more about the organisation’s work: “Broadly speaking, around half of the business concerns delivering turnkey high-pressure piping systems to our clients. We undertake the engineering work for them, which is largely based around our own products, but we will also source materials to complete the package. We are also able to do full testing and installation, taking complete responsibility for the piping system from beginning to end. Furthermore, if the customer has partially implemented some parts of the system, we can adjust our offering to suit their needs.
GS-Hydro’s reputation has been built primarily on its work in the offshore and marine sectors, where it has attracted a number of well known customers in these segments. The company is also active in many land-based industries, such as defence, automotive, and recycling. This inevitably produces diverse work on a global scale, a challenge that GS-Hydro has confronted by ensuring that the majority of its sales outlets have their own piping engineers, prefabrication capabilities, installation teams, and piping components.
“We are in demand because our technology is unique in this sector,” reveals Terho. “We are able to provide piping solutions without welding, and this offers definite benefits for customers. It means that we can perform a quick on-site installation, because we can prefabricate part of the system on our own premises, and then transport it to our clients’ site. Further benefits can be zero fire hazard or small space requirements on-site.”
GS-Hydro is able to offer its clients an extensive range of products from which to find the best solution. The company sells three flange systems, each of which boasts an innovative design, and operates within distinct working pressures. Furthermore, carbon and stainless steel pipes and tubes, tube clamps, hoses and hose couplings, ball valves, and adaptors are all part of GS-Hydro’s offering. The company also sells or rents machines designed for preparation and prefabrication of non-welded piping systems. This incorporates both portable and heavy-duty equipment of the kind that is, for example, required in flaring, grooving, and sawing.
Looking at the key factors behind GS-Hydro’s success, Terho highlights one of the company’s most important operations: “We need to find the solutions to meet our customers’ needs. In order to further develop our offering, GS-Hydro has increased its investment in R&D. We also cooperate extensively with Finnish universities, and these institutions have been a great help to us. We use their services in testing certain materials and constructions, and we can never be entirely certain that our designs work properly until they have been through this process.”
One such collaboration involved Tampere University of Technology, which undertook research with GS-Hydro to determine the differing levels of cost and cleanliness between welded and non-welded piping solutions. During this, it was discovered that it required welded systems approximately 50 per cent longer to achieve the target level of purification; consequently, within identical flushing times, the non-welded system was able to achieve a higher grade of cleanliness. This was a critical discovery, as research has also demonstrated that 80 per cent of hydraulic system malfunctions are caused by internal impurities.
At ONS 2008, GS-Hydro will exhibit its products to many of the key players within the offshore sector. Terho discusses further the advantages of being present at such an event: “ONS gives us an opportunity to meet our existing customers, to learn from them about their needs, and how we might be able to serve them better. We are also able to meet new customers, and gain a much better view of what is happening in the global market. This commitment to close customer relations has ensured a sharp growth in turnover for us in the past few years, and the current state of the market suggests that the company can continue to prosper.
“Our business still has a lot of potential,” says Terho. “Crude oil prices are high, and companies are investing in their equipment. They need to go into deeper and deeper waters, which is in turn, creating demands for new technologies and improved systems.
“We have also been looking into some new markets where we may be able to serve potential customers. For example, there is the aftersales area, in which our clients may need maintenance of their systems. Hopefully, in a few years time this will bring business to us and we will be able to work with companies that are utilising piping systems, and take responsibility for looking after their equipment. We have been planning our growth very carefully, and it is important that we do not open too many new markets at the same time as we do not want to compromise with our ability to serve our clients.”
As with many companies, acquiring the requisite number of skilled workers is the key concern for GS-Hydro when looking to the future. There is an intense competition for talent within the sector, but the company’s past successes certainly make it one of the more attractive propositions for prospective employees. Last year, GS-Hydro opened a new facility in Singapore, and it is likely that over the next twelve months further new operations will be unveiled. With a cautious growth plan, and new technologies continuously being developed, the company can be optimistic that it will sustain and, indeed, enhance its market strength in the years to come.
Products Piping systems and services