AWARDS 2021 | Best OSV – Medium Crewboat – Tamimi 6 – Grandweld Shipyards

Best OSV – Medium Crewboat – Tamimi 6 (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Capt. Tony Powell)
Best OSV – Medium Crewboat – Tamimi 6 (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Capt. Tony Powell)

Dubai-based Grandweld has been producing a wide range of 12- to 70-metre workboats in steel and aluminium for what seems like decades. Obviously, from their location, Grandweld is best known for OSVs, but the company is far from being a "one trick pony". Their portfolio is much more widespread than that.

This vessel, though, is classically Grandweld. It is one in a flotilla of four fast, powerful and versatile all-aluminium, 40-metre crew/supply boats. They are magnificent.

"The vessel belongs to a series designed to provide greater deadweight capacity at higher speeds and with a deep draught," Jamal Abki, Grandweld's General Manager, told Baird Maritime. "This makes it a highly differentiated vessel that is both more comfortable and more capable."

Abki added that the crewboat series was developed fully by Grandweld's in-house engineering team. Key features include a hydrodynamically advanced hull form design, with the company's naval architects using advanced performance calculations and software for seakeeping and powering estimates. The design was then model tested and verified in a test basin to ensure that it met all the design objectives.

"The accommodation includes a VIP area that boasts greater comfort and luxury compared to contemporaries in the crewboat industry. This includes the new 'GrandMajlis,' which is an Arabic lounge for VIPs to relax and have private meetings during offshore voyages. The GrandMajlis was also designed and fitted out by our in-house interior design and production teams. The design was 3D modelled using the latest interior design software, allowing the customer and project team to do walk-throughs before production started."

Abki said work on the crewboat progressed even during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in many challenges within the supply chain. Grandweld's project team reacted to this promptly and carried out risk assessments to mitigate and avoid potential problems. This included making some necessary adjustments to the plan to deal with possible disruptions that could affect production.

"We took proactive steps very early in the outbreak to set up our Covid control procedures, implementing best practice prevention methods that actually resulted in minimal disruption to our production. Travel restrictions caused the internationally-based client to be unable to attend on-site. However, this was mitigated by implementing greater use of remote meetings and greater digitalisation to allow remote inspections and viewing of the design and shipbuilding project status."

Abki also credits the UAE and Dubai governments for their management of the impact of the pandemic, with PCR testing and vaccine rollouts being done quickly and on a "vast scale." This enabled Grandweld's workforce to adapt to the necessary safety guidelines in addition to getting vaccinated as soon as vaccines became available in sufficient numbers.

Abki identified the adoption of digitised processes as a major current trend in shipbuilding. Fortunately, Grandweld had a head-start in incorporating such processes into its operations.

"We embarked on this adoption two decades ago," he told Baird Maritime, "and the accumulated affect of this long-term strategy can be seen in our reputation for innovation, our high productivity levels, and the excellent quality of our products."

Abki added that shipyards that embrace digitisation – which encompasses using in-house 3D modelling for production, digitised planning and project management, and digitised production – are now leaders in their fields.

"Such yards are able to control their productivity at higher levels and ensure extremely high customer satisfaction. We have a very high repeat customer record due to our commitment to this strategy."

Abki said that Grandweld's commitment to digital innovation is marked by its investment in research and development with the company's own in-house software developers. It also developed the Grandweld "digital shipbuilding process" that is integrated with an ERP software suite, also developed in-house. The company resorted to this approach after realising that it is not possible to obtain advanced shipbuilding processes suited to its specific needs by simply outsourcing services to third parties or relying only on off-the-shelf, generic software products.

The year 2021 proved to be an "excellent" one for Grandweld as targets were exceeded in the company's shipbuilding and ship repair divisions.

The shipbuilding division completed newbuilding orders for nine crewboats and began construction on another two vessels. Grandweld was also awarded a contract for four 50-tonne BP tractor tugs and a 54-metre yacht shadow vessel, which was fully designed in-house.

Abki added that the company remains "very optimistic" about its future, particularly its international growth due to its increasing popularity among its export customers.

"Our expertise in aluminium shipbuilding is particularly attractive to customers since we are not only known for high quality and commitment to on-time delivery, but our productivity levels allow incredibly attractive commercial offers. Additionally, our centrally located yard greatly reduces vessel mobilisation costs, especially for European customers. This, combined with Dubai's excellent air links, open economy, and international city status allow for easy supervision of work."

Abki remarked that optimism is also prevalent in the offshore oil and gas industry, with shipbuilding within that particular industry having seen a marked increase in new vessel demand after a long period of low investments.

"We are pleased to see such a positive change in this shipping sector because the offshore industry constitutes a major part of our customer base. One of our main specialties is high-speed aluminium crewboat construction, and we can see a high demand for our crewboats because we have proven experience, excellent designs and reliable, high quality shipbuilding capabilities.

"We see that in the future there will be more focus on sustainability, with the long-term goal being renewable energy use in new ships. This has already become a trend with greater emphasis on research and development of these new power solutions. As with many developments in the marine industry, this may take some time, but these changes are coming and it will require great collaboration and a shared vision between shipowners, shipbuilders, designers suppliers and academic institutions to achieve better ecological goals for the shipping industry."

As regards the UAE's own workboat industry, Akbi commented that it will not just be the offshore vessel sector that will prosper in the coming years.

"We have a long history in the port and workboat sectors, and we provide ship repair and conversion services to markets as diverse as the superyacht industry, ferry operators, navies and also merchant shipping. The region has an extremely vibrant marine industry due to the large offshore industry here. Dubai is an international logistics hub and has a high number of OEMs and shipyards based here, so it is the go-to location for ship repair in the region."

He adds that while there are many shipyards in this region, very few have Grandweld's capabilities, experience and strong focus on customer service.

"Although there are high levels of competition, the most capable yards are the most successful. We see that trend continuing into the future."

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