Lifting the load with I.P. Huse
Working in close collaboration with Rolls-Royce Marine Systems, I.P. Huse is a world leader in the design and production of large winches for anchor handling vessels
Serving ship owners, yards and oil companies, its range of products also include winches and mooring equipment for FPSOs, SPARs and similar hull and vessel shaped installations.
Based on the small island of Harøy, on the west coast of Norway, I.P. Huse is part of a cluster of experienced companies operating from this area. “We sit on the seaside, loading ships that are sailing to locations including Brazil, China and the Gulf of Mexico, from our own quay,” begins managing director, Inge Huse.
“Sitting 400 metres from the seafront, our location is extremely good. We are dependent on our sea connection, because with units weighing up to 400 tonnes they can only be transported by water. With a facility of almost 70,000 square-metres, the cost of our site is a lot cheaper than it would be anywhere in the world.”
Expanding on the advantage of the company’s site, Inge continues: “We are positioned in an area called More og Romsdal, which is the worldwide centre of excellence for the design and construction and operation of anchor handling vessels. Rolls-Royce is a well-known influence in the area while there are world-class designers, ship owners and yards in the region.
“We are a product of this very efficient cluster, benefiting from the experienced operators’ superior expertise and up-to-date knowledge. Our key strength as an organisation is knowledge, as we are basically an engineering company that also manufactures.”
I.P. Huse’s products are broadly grouped into two segments: exploration and production, and supply and service. The exploration and production products include vertical windlass and fairleads, and are supplied to FPSOs, Spar buoys, installation vessels and cable layers, while winches are supplied to towing vessels and anchor handlers as part of the supply and service section.
“Our production is concentrated on building heavy winch units in co-operation with Rolls-Royce Marine. We supply winches for their offshore supply vessels, which account for approximately 80 per cent of the world market,” explains Inge.
The two companies have a very close working relationship, with Rolls-Royce involved in the sales, service and after-sales aspects of the business. “We are probably integrated more into Rolls-Royce than many of their own companies,” says Inge.
Despite this very close connection, I.P. Huse is an independently run company, and Inge explains that it tries to have close relationships with every customer. “We work with Rolls-Royce in the same way that we work with every other ship designer. We integrate our production operation with theirs, working together to design the vessel.”
With demand for anchor handling vessels increasing, I.P. Huse’s customers are turning to the company for its products more than ever. Inge comments: “There is a very big boom going on, which has ensured that our lowest-level production capacity has been booked until 2009. This demand is a product of the oil industry’s increased willingness to invest, which has grown from the prolonged high oil prices.
“The yards are also benefiting from this boom, with many booked out until 2010. This is quite an extreme condition, because normally a boat would be complete in around 12 to 18 months. The yards in the Far East and the Gulf of Mexico are also fully booked, and of course when you fully book the yards, you fully book the equipment manufacturers as well.”
With demand at unprecedented levels, the company has had the opportunity to heavily invest in the development of its facility, with new equipment and buildings added to the site. In the last five years, over 2700 square metres of new workshop space has been opened, while some of the older buildings have been renovated, ensuring the company has a modern facility, equipped with machines to perform a wide variety of tasks.
Discussing the possibility of further growth, Inge comments: “We are building all the time, continually developing the company by investing approximately £4 million each year. We will expand a little each year, targeting evolutionary growth rather than revolutionary.”
Customer involvement is an important part of the future strategy, and I.P. Huse works very closely with its clients to ensure that its developments are in line with their requirements. “Basically, what we do is a variation of their ideas. Our position in a cluster is particularly beneficial, as good ideas are developed through such groups,” explains Inge.
The importance of this collaboration with customers is a fundamental part of the company’s work, and Inge identifies it as the key to I.P. Huse’s success: “Firstly you have to listen to the customers, and secondly you need the means of fulfilling their requirements, because while you can listen to the customers, if you can’t meet their needs it is of no use.”
I. P. Huse
Products: Winches and mooring equipment
Sites: Steinshamn, Norway