The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on public health and disrupted the global economy in unprecedented ways. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the maritime industry has struggled with a plethora of challenges spanning from soaring container freight rates and shipyard lockdowns to shortages of materials and components. To gain insight into the challenges our marine team has faced during this past year and a half, and what measures we have taken to overcome them, we talked to our Business Unit Director Tommy Rochhausen and Sales Coordinator Robert Beach.
With an entire industry racing against the clock to become compliant with the D-2 standard of the Ballast Water Management Convention, the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time. As the pandemic swept across nations and continents, many retrofitting procedures had to be put on halt as shipyards across the globe went into lockdown.
“When the pandemic started in the spring of 2020, shipyards around the world went into lockdown, delaying planned BWMS installations. This affected system manufacturers, which in turn affected us as a component supplier. We had to postpone many of our planned rectifier deliveries as few system installations could be carried out,” said Tommy.
When the shipyard lockdowns started, several customers put their rectifier orders on hold – forcing KraftPowercon’s marine team to downsize its production capacity.
“At that point in time, we were forced to downsize our production and implement a government-issued short-time furlough since many of our customers put their orders on hold. But things turned around eventually when the shipyards started opening again. Now the situation is the opposite – we have had to scale up to double shifts to make up for lost time and catch up in production,” said Tommy.
“Our customers have ramped up their production again, so they are very eager to receive shipments from us, but due to material shortages on both raw materials and individual components, we have struggled to keep up with the demand. This has disrupted the flow in our deliveries and forced us to become even more flexible in our production planning,” Robert adds.
Transitioning from the lockdowns to a new situation where orders have started picking up again has tested the marine team’s capacity to scale back up. Especially in a time where certain materials and components are hard to come by. But thanks to good production planning, clever logistical solutions, and close collaboration with customers, crucial orders and deliveries have been able to flow during the entire pandemic.
“Even though we have struggled to get a hold of certain materials and components, our production team has been able to maintain a good flow in our deliveries thanks to a close dialogue with our customers and suppliers. By planning ahead and being flexible, we have managed to re-plan certain high-volume orders and delivered the most crucial components that our customers need,” said Tommy.
“By thoroughly planning our outbound logistics together with our customers, we have managed to allow for additional time in production to receive materials from our suppliers. This way, we have gotten extra days in production to complete crucial orders without any significant delay in delivery time to our customers,” Robert adds.
Making sure production is stable and securing timely deliveries has been a challenge during the pandemic. On the opposite side of the spectrum, existing customers are awaiting regular maintenance of already installed rectifiers. Thanks to the marine team’s global service network, these errands have been taken care of with the help of local service engineers and remote support.
“Due to international travel bans and local restrictions, we haven’t been able to dispatch our service engineers to the same extent as before. Luckily, we have a global support network with service hubs on all continents, which has enabled us to go onboard vessels to perform maintenance in some cases,” said Tommy.
“Even if we in many cases have had the local resources to provide service on-site, local restrictions have prevented us to board vessels. In these cases, we have been able to provide service through our remote support,” Robert adds.
Despite all the obstacles and challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed on the marine team’s operation, Tommy and Robert are optimistic about the future – estimating that the marine team’s operational capacity will be back in full in the coming months.
“Our prognosis is that our production will be back on par to what it was prior to the pandemic sometime in November. As for after-market, we can’t be certain when things will be back to normal as travel restrictions are still enforced in certain parts of the world. Regardless of what happens, we will do everything we can to help our industry and customers reach the deadline of the BWM Convention,” Tommy says.
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