MAKKUM – Clutching a bulging order book, hull builder Bloemsma Aluminumbouw will soon open a new production hall where it can build hulls for large yachts bigger, faster and more innovatively for Dutch shipyards.

Yard manager and naval architect Hette de Vries has worked for shipyards in the Netherlands, Romania, China and Canada. He joined Bloemsma two busy years ago. “The order book was filling up, and qualified workers had to be hired for Royal Huisman, Heesen Yachts and Hoek Design projects. And, at the same time, I had to start up the new build hall.”

Bloemsma employs 20 workers and uses eight skilled flex workers. It needs at least 10 more welders and hull builders. “We face a lack of skilled labor. Welders can be found, but we want people who can also build. Aluminum construction is tricky, and shrinkage is an issue,” says De Vries. “Aluminum welders’ biggest enemy is shrinkage. They must make it their greatest friend.”

De Vries would like to hire more women as his company remains a male stronghold. “It is tough to lure young people to this field. Fortunately, we now have some interest from vocational schools.”

Bloemsma deals with design studios that have their vision of how a ship should be put together. He is diplomatic. “Some make it too complicated. A truss to which you have to weld a  purlin rib that you then have to straighten again. There is tension in the hull. In the end, even though it sounds crazy, the best weld is no weld at all.”

The new Bloemsma hall (86 x 30m/282 by 98ft) will let the company build hulls more efficiently. “Competition in this business is fierce,” says De Vries. “There are benefits to lowering material handling costs. Everything must be sorted and laid out clearly. We have no space for that now. The trick is to get the material delivered and laid out in sync with construction.

The new hall also lets Bloemsma build bigger. “The hall is 14m (46ft) high,” says De Vries. “Below the roof crane, the clearance is 10.5m (34ft).” If necessary, hull sections will be delivered in parts so they can still be transported on a pontoon to shipyards across the Netherlands.

The hall is insulated like a newly built home.

“Climate control is crucial for processing aluminum and pleasant working conditions,” says De Vries. “The best temperature is 15 to 18 Celsius (59 to 64F). We achieve that by floor heating or cooling. Dew point protection is also a factor to avoid condensation. As are powerful LED lighting, good ventilation and acoustic roofing to absorb construction noise.”