ROTTERDAM – There was a time when a supplier would pull up and say, “Here are the deck hatches you ordered. Have a nice day!” How times have changed!
Dutch superyacht builders, at pains these days to shorten delivery times, are turning to suppliers to help them build faster, risk-free and more efficiently. That can lead to a root-and-branch overhaul of yacht construction, now becoming visible at Oceanco.
In 2019, the builder of 80m (263ft.) yachts and longer acquired 2 vast build halls in the Port of Rotterdam spanning 28 acres (114,000 sq.m.). Reflecting today’s furious demand for very large, very customized Dutch-built superyachts, the halls house construction, outfitting, painting and sandblasting facilities. PLus offices and conference rooms.
In the last 5 years, says Edwin Nieuwehuyse, head of sales and customer service at De Keizer Marine Engineering, “Dutch yards have taken on larger, more complex projects. That requires more professionalism and a different work methodology.”
Oceanco is a leader in concurrent design and engineering by upgrading the role of its suppliers. “We speak of co-makers now,” says Group Marketing Manager Paris Baloumis, “We treat them as colleagues and bring them into a project early on. Before a hull goes up. Co-makers in all disciplines give us – and one another – timely input about what they will be installing and what their needs are in terms of space, power, materials etc. We want no surprises, no delays, no cost overruns ionce a project gets underway.”
As they grow larger, superyachts become extremely complex. Across 5, 6, 7 decks, hybrid propulsion, audiovisual and IT systems are installed. Miles and miles of piping and cables are laid to rooms, hallways, the bridge, the pool, the helipad and technical spaces. Electrical networks power alarm, security, airco, hydraulic, energy saving, navigational systems.
There can be no software incompatibility issues. And when the job is done, everything must fit seamlessly and look like a 5-star hotel. Co-maker contracts are not one-offs. Oceanco looks to them to help cement long-term relationships with suppliers, ideally spanning many years.
Co-makership, says Nieuwehuyse, “means you can effect design and engineering changes. If you arrive late to a project, everything is in place. If generator and distribution boxes are too small, we have a problem.” De Keizer Marine now works on 18 large yacht projects across the Netherlands. It can deploy a small team or as many as 30 or 40 people to a yard.
Oceanco CFO David Wittenberg says the shift to co-maker “means we get teams of experts working together with our engineers. This is about efficiency and performance. And it is about taking risks out of a build project.”