A much needed lift

For Kenz-Figee, clearly understanding individual clients’ needs through close cooperation, and adapting its products to provide the most appropriate lifting solution for a certain task is the cornerstone of the organisation’s success.

The company, which has more than 150 years experience in the design and development of crane and lifting solutions, manufactures equipment for use in the global offshore and harbour markets.

“One of our key differentiators is that a lot of crane manufacturers have a range of standard cranes that are offered to clients, whereas our ethos has always been to design and develop cranes that are for a specific customer requirement,” explains Robert De Rijcke, commercial manager at Kenz-Figee. “This approach means that we work very closely with our customers at every stage of an operation to see where we can achieve costs savings and superior quality, whilst developing a crane that meets their exact needs.”

Expanding the boundaries of crane performance through partnerships and tailored designs has been an essential ingredient to Kenz- Figee’s success throughout its history, which Robert explains, dates back nearly two centuries: “Kenz-Figee consists of our two brand names – Kenz represents our offshore range of cranes, whilst Figee specialises in harbour cranes – and we have an amazing amount of history within both areas. For example, Figee has been producing harbour cranes since 1836 and has a worldwide reputation as one of the leaders in its field, whilst Kenz has been designing and manufacturing cranes and lifting equipment to the highest industry specifications since 1960.”

Today, more than 200 Kenz-Figee offshore cranes are in operation in areas ranging from the North Sea and West Africa, through to the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. “We have sold a great deal of cranes to customers for fixed drilling platforms, specially designed for harsh environments and demanding operating conditions,” says Robert . “Furthermore, we have worked closely with a number of clients to develop crane solutions for drilling platforms and FPSOs.

“More recently, one of our expanding markets has been in the development of products for use onboard multi-purpose surface vessels, specifically cranes designed for deepwater operations,” he continues. “These have a lifting capacity of up to 500 tonnes and can reach depths of more than 2000 metres, and are also provided with active heave compensating systems that enable them to lay equipment very carefully and accurately on the seabed.”

This growing market reflects the overall increase in deepwater operations throughout the industry, something that Robert believes will continue: “For us, cranes for deepwater operations are certainly an expanding sector, and something that we are increasingly looking at. Of course, with this development comes new challenges that we must consider. Not only is it more difficult to operate at such depths, but the added distances from the surface place considerably more strain on the ropes and gives much greater lifting capacities.”

Robert is keen to explain that not only does Kenz-Figee manufacture new cranes for clients, it also provides an in-depth repair, service and maintenance operation: “We have delivered a lot of cranes since the 1990s, and because the industry requirements change so frequently upgrading and servicing them is a big part of our overall operation. To help this we install a PLC based control system in our cranes that monitors all of the main operating systems, and can inform the operator when the unit requires maintenance, lubrication and parts replacement.

“For many of the smaller UK independent companies we have been carrying out replacement operations, swapping existing cranes with newer models,” says Robert . “Our cranes are ideal for these replacement operations as they are modular designs. For example, after they have been built and tested we strip them down into small modules, use the existing crane onboard a platform to lift the modules on, and install them in the existing crane’s place without using a crane barge. “

As befits a crane manufacturer producing for the offshore market, Kenz-Figee specialises in developing crane solutions for use in harsh or adverse conditions. The company has invested considerable effort in designing solutions that feature increased safety, reliability and efficiency, as Robert elaborates: “In modern oil and gas operations we have to consider the effects of the operational environment on the cranes’ overall capabilities. For example, one of the most important factors is adverse weather that changes rapidly and very high wave heights. These result in a lot of dynamic forces on the crane, which means that the entire crane structure must be able to withstand these forces and environments easily. The crane control systems are specially designed to meet these harsh environment operations. Our cranes are designed for operation up to sea state 6 and Beaufort 8.”

Discussing the state of the industry, Robert believes that there are further opportunities for Kenz-Figee to succeed: “At present we have orders up to 2010, including a number of new customers in Australia. I can see a big demand from the offshore sector for our products for the coming years, and we will certainly look to expand to accommodate this. Although one can never predict the future of our industry, it is booming at the moment, and we expect this to continue for some time,” he concludes.

Kenz Figee

Products: Offshore and harbour cranes