Shipyard De Hoop
Issue 04 2010
The shipyard at De Hoop was first established over 120 years ago. Located in Lobith, on the eastern side of the Netherlands, the shipyard has been built on the spot where the ancient Batavii, a people famous for their courage and tenacity, as well as for their trustworthiness, landed on Dutch soil.
The site has been used for the building of ships continuously ever since the first shipyard was set up in 1886. Today the yard is home to Shipyard De Hoop’s main office, employing 130 people. The company also operates a second shipyard in Foxhol, in the North of Holland, which employs 65 people.
Both shipyards are responsible for the construction of a whole range of offshore and inshore vessels. Patrick Janssens, managing director of Shipyard De Hoop elaborates: “Inland operations focus on cruise and large passenger vessels, while our offshore vessels come under the categories of dredgers, offshore support vessels, semi-submersibles, tugs and pushboats, chemical tankers and container vessels. We have our own engineering department, and so we have sufficient capacity in-house to completely design the vessels ourselves. Then once we start building we have the capability to perform steel cutting, work preparation and pre assembly to build the complete vessel. We also do our own carpentry, and we have workshops for binding electrics and carrying out bench work, so basically from start to finish we build the entire vessel.”
This in-house capability means that De Hoop has full control over the project, allowing it to be more flexible and faster than the competition, as Patrick explains: “The trend of the last decade in our industry has been that the shipyard has been outsourcing more and more, and often to lower wage countries to save costs. This has left the whole industry in a situation where shipbuilding takes a long time, and as the shipping world is changing rapidly, production lead times need to be shorter. Because we carry out all the design and building work in-house, we are able to offer a faster service, which is our main strength, putting us ahead of many of our rivals.”
Further strengths of the yard include its size and co-operation with clients. Patrick describes De Hoop’s unique advantages: “As a medium-sized shipyard that is competing in an industry where most of our clients are much larger companies, we can offer a level of flexibility that larger yards cannot. We can work closely with our customers to build a vessel that is suitable for what the client needs. This is significant because in the past few years standardisation has become more and more a part of shipbuilding and many of the larger shipyards only offer a range of standard projects. However we ensure that we listen to the client’s requirements and then do everything we can to provide them with the perfect vessel.”
The company’s core speciality is the design and construction of offshore vessels, including diving support, tugboats, anchor handlers and supply vessels – an area that has been the company’s main focus for the past decade. Patrick outlines the company’s next area to concentrate on: “We are developing the area of engineering that we offer to third parties, which involves services such as feasibility studies. Focusing on this department allows us to innovate much more than before, meaning that we are developing new concepts for the future, together with not only clients, charterers and ship owners, but also with oil companies. For example at this moment we are developing a semi-submersible accommodation platform, which is a machine that will be a habitat for 500 people that will be able to remain offshore even when there are severe weather conditions.”
He goes on to outline the challenges of the current industry conditions, in light of the recession and its impact on De Hoop’s clients: “Our current situation is quite strange, in that we have a fuller order book than we’ve ever had, while at the same time the industry has suffered very badly at the hands of the financial crisis. That means that we see the difficulty in getting new orders, and we are helping our clients to get the sufficient finance to order products. Despite this our company thankfully has not experienced too many negative effects as a result of the recession.”
He concludes by describing De Hoop’s plans for the future: “Moving forwards, our strategy is to consolidate our current position; not to grow or become smaller but to further strengthen our position delivering quality vessels whilst retaining our flexibility. We basically want to be a company that is ready for the next few decades, and we have been working very hard towards that aim, having modernised both our shipyards in the last three years. This involved putting in new machines, restructuring, putting in new buildings and upgrading the existing machinery. We want to be a company that will stay one step ahead of the rest of the industry by continuously innovating our products, as well as keeping the company and business processes up to date.”
Shipyard De Hoop