Grow profits with knowledge development

By Timon Vinke Author of “Cutting Edge” and Lead Engineer of Strategic Dredging

More production, more profits

Generally speaking the more production you achieve with your dredging vessel, the more profit you make. A lot of the costs of a dredging vessel are fixed, so not related to the production. But the weekly turnover is, in most cases, directly related to the weekly production. Increasing the turnover, without increasing the costs much, will increase the profits.

The need for knowledge

But how do you achieve a good production from your dredging vessel? By having a good, knowledgeable crew and project team. Together they have the biggest impact on the production of the vessel. It is one thing to get some sand through the pipe, but getting the maximum production possible is something different.

Within the required knowledge there are various levels. Roughly 75% of the maximum production can be achieved with the implementation of basic operational and managerial knowledge. Getting to this level is relatively straightforward. Operators should be able to dredge without damaging the equipment and the vessels should have a good uptime due to technical and operational management. But since you can implement that easily, so can your competition.

The real competition is not in the first 75%, but in the last 25% of the production. To achieve that production advanced operational and managerial knowledge should be implemented. This involves spare parts strategies, detailed project planning ensuring maximum uptime, well-trained staff and a system to increase the production of the vessel. The latter requires more knowledge about the dredging process and specifically about how to implement such a system to increase the production.

Knowledge not readily available

This knowledge is not readily available. There is quite some technical information, but few if any information on how to apply the theory to increase the production in the field. Aside from that the information is often on an academic level. This kind of information, and the research that provides it, is necessary to advance the dredging industry. However, the complexity of the information makes it less readily applicable to the day-to-day operations in the field.

There are literally hundreds of smaller dredging companies in the world that simply do not have the resources to make the translation from academic research and theory to the practicalities of every day. In the larger dredging companies there often are people who can make this translation, however, their crew and project staff is spread around the world. Getting the knowledge to them so it can be applied in the field is a different challenge. Luckily progress is being made on both fronts.

New developments

Training via the internet, so called E-learning, is ideal for both groups of companies. Recently more and more attention is given to this method of training by the dredging industry. E-learning is available 24/7, so it doesn’t matter in which time-zone you are. You can access it from anywhere. You can repeat the training as much as you want and it is very cost effective. True, there is an upfront investment to develop the training. But after that it can be provided again and again and again almost without any cost, since there is no need for a trainer and no travelling is required.

For small companies this is ideal, as they can have only a few people attend the training without the high cost of a trainer on location.

For large dredging companies it is ideal as all the personnel will be trained exactly the same content, whenever the personnel is available. There is no need for the personnel to go to a physical training during their leave.

For both groups an extra benefit is that E-learning can be done next to the normal working activities, meaning the participants aren’t gone for a week of training, leaving the companies with holes in the schedule to fill.

Online training definitely has its advantages, but sometimes a physical book copy with relevant information is handier, especially as a reference when in the field. Also, on this front there are developments. Of course, books on dredging have been available for quite some time, but often they are either on higher educational level or about dredging in general, not specific on production. But recently the first book on production optimization with a practical application has been published, “Cutting Edge: How to systematically increase CSD production.”

The future

The developments in E-learning and the publishing of the book could mean the start of a new period where practical, result oriented knowledge becomes readily available. Making it easier for you to apply this knowledge, increase the production of your equipment and thereby increase the profits of your company.

Disclosure: The Industry Contribution is a new section in which the dredging industry companies share their project endeavors or analyses. This article was produced by Strategic Dredging and does not necessarily reflect the view of Dredging Today. No member of the editorial team took part in the creation of the article.