Hooking people’s attention
“The company itself was officially incorporated in 2007, at which point it was halfway through a four-year development programme of a new and innovative design of lifting hook,” explains Bill Toon, managing director of Nautilus Rigging.
“In 2009 these hook prototypes were put through extensive trials with one of the world’s leading offshore drilling contractors, trials that were hugely successful. After further improving the function with slight modifications, the first range of Nautilus Hooks were put into production before being launched at the Offshore Europe event in September 2009.”
As Bill goes on to reveal, the pioneering design of the Nautilus Hook was first conceived after he witnessed a common incident some years ago: “Back when I was a ships’ captain I was on hand to witness one of my crew members pinch the end of his finger on a spring latch hook. It was this incident that got me thinking that there simply had to be a better, safer style of lifting hook that would avoid such accidents. At the time every company out there used the same traditional style of hook, but to me it just seemed a logical development to take something in existence and improve it by eliminating the potential risks.”
Logical the idea was, and with the first model taking off well, its sales allowed Nautilus Rigging to finance the next round of models, a process that gradually continued over the course of just under two years before all 19 of the company’s models made it into production: “From the very first product launch Nautilus Rigging has received countless enquiries, so many that it set up a website to handle distribution requests,” Bill continues.
“Very early on the company set up a distribution deal for Australia, which today continues to be run by Franklin Offshore and, this was followed by Nautilus taking on distributors in the UK, Italy, Norway and as far afield as Canada all of whom are supplying the hooks to both the offshore and onshore sectors. The focus today is on securing large volume ‘manufacture to order’ global supply contracts with larger organisations who have the roots to global markets. Negotiations with a number of interested parties have already begun and it is believed the first such global agreement will be confirmed soon,” Bill says.
To accommodate for a strong increase in demand and the growing catalogue of product ideas and designs the company wants to mass produce they have recently commissioned production at a second plant. “The company has successful adapted its larger hooks for use during subsea operations, something that traditional safety hooks have been unable to do. Following successful tank trials with an ROV the company decided to engage the second plant to begin manufacturing the Nautilus subsea hook.
“This decision was taken for several reasons, but fundamentally it was down to the fact that all indications suggest that Nautilus Rigging’s current plant would not have sufficient capacity to handle the current and potential volume of future orders for the standard hook range. This new plant has more than five times the capacity already at the company’s disposal and in time will have the ability to produce in excess of one million units a year. For the time being it is expected that samples of the ROV hook will be ready by November 2011 and, assuming they go on to meet all the necessary manufacturing standards, will be available on the market around March 2012.”
Having a product you believe in yourself is one thing, having one that is recognised for its excellence by your peers and its end users is something else. It is for that reason that Bill takes great pride in the various awards presented to Nautilus Rigging in the last two years: “In 2010 Nautilus Rigging won the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Best Mechanical Achievement Award, an accomplishment that remains truly gratifying. In explaining its decision the Society said that the real appeal was in the fact that it was such a simple idea, yet so effective it seems obvious and hard to believe hadn’t been considered before now. Recognition like this, as well as the OSJ Innovation Award the company was awarded in February 2011, really help move the business as a whole forward and from a personal point of view it is particularly pleasing to know that Nautilus Hooks are providing a real benefit to the offshore and wider industrial community.”
Looking to the future, Bill has lots of grand plans for the company that involve setting up supply contracts in all four corners of the globe and establishing a number of local outlets: “Product wise the company will continue to develop a range of new subsea hooks capable of handling increasingly heavy loads. Of course there are also a number of other lifting components Nautilus Rigging can go on to make and sell, such as master links, chains, shackles and so forth, but the most important step at this time is to establish the brand as the safest lifting hooks, a new safety standard across industry. This process will occur over the next two-to-three years allowing the company to place itself in a position to expand its product range under the Nautilus name during the coming decade.”
Products: Revolutionary lifting hooks