But NME is providing solutions. Whilst the high cost of production in Norway may be a factor in hindering potential deals, NME has encouraged a number of companies to transfer manufacturing operations to other nations, such as China. In a sense, going to the markets, rather than expecting the markets to come to Norway, has allowed many Norwegian companies the opportunity to maintain a foothold where new deals are waiting to be struck.
The Norwegian maritime equipment industry represents some of the greatest minds and most innovative solutions available, precisely to meet the needs of ship owners. The Norwegian umbrella organization, the Norwegian Maritime Exporters, was established in 1995 by industry members, in connection with the then Norwegian Export Council. Four years later, NME became an independent, non-profit organisation with a clear strategy: to initiate goal-orientated marketing drives for its members and to encourage local co-operation in the drive to reach the international customer as effectively as possible.
If one were, by some stretch of the imagination, to give a human face to NME, that face might well be that of a sea captain, steering a great galley into uncharted waters. NME represents over one hundred companies, from those with an established international reputation, to smaller innovators lacking local and international coverage. The task is not a simple one: many of the emerging markets are difficult to reach and Norwegian companies face formidable competition from cheaper manufacturing outlets abroad.
The establishment of strong working relationships and global networks allows NME to secure favourable promotional space at international shipping exhibitions, and step in early to predict the potential of emerging markets.
“Through the members’ network and its own network, NME acquires knowledge about the opportunities in different markets as they occur. Thus, NME can plan and complete marketing activities for the business at an early stage of any new developments in the market. Both Brazil and Vietnam are good examples of this,” explains NME’s Managing Director, Halvard Olafsen.
Norway’s maritime cluster is by no means a single entity with one goal and one method in mind. However, through the Norwegian Maritime Exporters, there is some sense of a collective identity. “In areas such as Ulsteinvik you find just about every kind of company represented in what is actually quite a small community by international standards, but the focus of the companies is not on the local business environment but on the international market,” Chairman Tom Cantero told NME’s official publication, Norwegian Solutions.
NME works together with the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Norwegian Shipowner’s Association, Maritime Forum and Innovation Norway to provide links to domestic markets and the offshore industry, where recent orders for the support vessel market have been on the increase.
Despite the continuing need for domestic supply, there can be little doubt that the industry as a whole has its eye on international markets. NME’s mission, according to Cantero, is to identify emerging markets at an early stage, then launch “inward missions” and promotional tours. Pavilions at international shipping exhibitions also help to attract overseas buyers.
“In the past there has been success in different markets, but over the last few years Brazil and Vietnam have been important to us. China still has the most potential, but Vietnam has the strongest growth in the shipyard industry,” Olafsen says.
Promotional tours to Brazil and Vietnam have been built on this growth. Close relationships with international exhibitions such as SMM, Marintec China and Kormarine have additionally helped NME to secure favourable spaces for pavilions that serve members as promotional, industry-focused product platforms. NME’s presentational skills have been forged over a long number of years in the field, and the Norwegian maritime industry can rely on good representation.
More recently still, India’s prominence in the industry has increased. Tom Cantero has suggested that the ageing profile of the Indian fleet and buildings has given NME an opportunity to work with large players in the Asian market, such as the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) and Essar Shipping. The potential for large-scale investment in this market is one of great interest to the Norwegian maritime industry. According to Cantero, “The Indian-owned fleet is growing significantly and Indian yards are gearing up to invest in new facilities and significantly increase their capacity.”
HERNIS Scan Systems is one of NME’s high profile companies with a burgeoning international reputation. Their main global office is in Arendal, in the south of Norway. HERNIS produces quality Closed Circuit Television Systems (CCTV) and Visual Integrated Systems (VIS). Its position in this particular niche market is enhanced by an emphasis on tailor made technology that is appropriate both for hazardous environments on the one hand, and aesthetics fitting for luxury cruise ships on the other. In this respect they can count themselves as among the leading lights in the world shipping market.
HERNIS certainly has a wide appeal. “To withstand harsh environments, from the heat and humidity of the Middle East to the arctic frost of the North Sea, HERNIS has developed housings and enclosures made of maintenance free, electro-polished stainless steel,” says HERNIS’ Marketing Director, Bjørn Fossestøl. All CCTV packages also have internal cabling, wipers and receiver units, which contribute to what Fossestøl describes as “unrivalled durability”. But as the ancient Chinese proverb puts it, “Big ships often sail on big debts”. As an international exporter, HERNIS competes partly because of the low life cycle cost of the camera station units. Fossestøl adds that “our equipment is characterized by low installation and maintenance costs.”
Nevertheless, despite HERNIS’s pride in the quality and cost-effectiveness of its product, the Norwegian Maritime Exporters is still of vital importance in making that product better known internationally. “HERNIS has been a member of NME for many years. The marine industry being our priority area, we consider NME a unique forum for exchanging experience and valuable information about new and existing export markets,” says Fossestøl.
As a network, NME has the advantage of providing a “bird’s eye” view. With over a hundred Norwegian companies under its auspices, NME is able to cast a wide net over a range of maritime industries and their connected worldwide markets. Thus NME has, perhaps most importantly of all, a respected and recognizable presence at international exhibitions that allows companies like HERNIS to promote its products as widely as possible. “We consider it very useful to exhibit under the direction of NME at a joint Norwegian Pavilion,” says Fossestøl. “Big international shipping exhibitions like NorShipping and SMM strengthen our image and get us the attention we want.” It is the hope and mission of NME, on behalf of companies such as HERNIS, that this extra coverage can only enhance Norway’s international standing as an exporter of quality maritime accessories.
OceanSaver AS offers environmentally responsible shipping solutions to a universal problem: ballast water treatment. A relatively new company, founded in February 2003, OceanSaver is attempting to provide a pioneering treatment system.
The problem is a serious one. As many as seven thousand aquatic organisms are carried in ships’ ballast water, and emptied into coastal habitats where they do not naturally occur. The effect is an ecological nightmare and examples are well documented. The northern Pacific sea star is one of them. It is now prevalent in Australian waters after arriving during the 1980s on ships from Japan. The damage to the Australian aquaculture and fishing industry has been to the tune of millions of US dollars. Ballast organisms are neither respectful of human health. Vibrio cholorae is believed to have been brought by ship to the coast of Peru, where cholera epidemics have resulted on a large scale.
OceanSavers C3 treatment unit, which also has the added bonus of reducing corrosion, is currently in the late stages of approval as it readies itself for the waiting market. The unit uses a three-stage process to treat ballast water. Larger organisms are first separated from smaller ones by mechanical filtration, then nitrogen supersaturates the ballast and deprives organisms of oxygen. This is followed by a process known as Hydro Dynamic Cavitation, which reduces any remaining bacteria. The technology has already had successful applications in the food hygiene industry.
OceanSavers’ technology is likely to be in high demand. The advantage that OceanSavers has centres around the fact that efficient ballast water treatment is combined with reduced corrosion. Solving two problems at once is an appealing market advantage.
“There has been international interest from almost everywhere. We have promoted the product in Greece, Germany, Scandinavia and the Far East. The doors are open,” says OceanSaver’s Leif Erik Caspersen.
Even before its product reaches the market, new rules put into place by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have created a necessity for ballast solutions. In February 2004, the “International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments” was adopted by consensus at a Diplomatic Convention in London. A number of measures were proposed to ensure that ships fulfilled their environmental responsibilities. “We have worked in marketing for several years, and it has never been as easy to open doors as now,” says Caspersen.
The markets available to OceanSaver are abundant and NME has been instrumental in making this new technology known worldwide. “They are very important to us. We use them in exhibitions and promotions,” Caspersen confirmed of NME. Considering the fact that IMO’s rulings apply globally, OceanSaver’s solution has huge potential.
Tvedestrand, in the south of Norway, is the base of TeamTec produces marine incinerators, fire-rated windows and ejectors. TeamTec exports internationally, and while much of its equipment is produced in Norway, the company also manufactures incinerators and fire-rated windows. The company also manufactures incinerators in China since 1984, as part of a special production agreement in accordance with NME’s market recommendation.
TeamTec has a number of market advantages. Incinerators are of modular construction and can be delivered as equipment packages for on-ship assembly. Parts are also kept to a size that allows entry through a normal-sized door opening. Meanwhile, TeamTec’s A-60 fire-rated windows, developed to Fire Protection Code standards as issued by the IMO, are also rugged enough for use in the offshore market, where they are suitable to withstand explosion pressure. The final product range on TeamTec’s list are Stripping Ejectors, designed for stripping from cargo tanks, ballast water tanks, cargo holds, engine rooms and for general bilge use. TeamTec assures customers that ejectors are made from High Grade Bronze Alloys and other high quality materials that give them an exceptionally long, maintenance-free operation throughout a ship’s life.
The NME calls attention to TeamTec as an example of a maritime exporter with an environmental focus. Thirty-five years ago, the owners of TeamTec developed an environmentally sound line of incinerators. This was the forerunner for MARPOL 73, the convention for prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
“It must be admitted that many owners, in the early years, installed incinerators as a goodwill gesture towards the regulatory bodies without any real commitment to use the equipment before being required to do so,” states TeamTec’s Director for Sales & Marketing, Per Egil Auestad. “Some of us clearly remember beaches full of oily waste that looked like tar and trash being washed ashore on otherwise pristine beaches. It was quite understandable that the rules and regulations were tightened – ever so slowly. Today, the picture is quite different. The ships are not the polluters they once were,” Auestad says.
IMO/MARPOL is internationally implemented, and the polluters are dealt with quite hard-handed. Fines for polluting have sky-rocketed in some areas with fines well above USD 40 million in some cases.
“The ‘name and shame’ policy together with strict Port State Control is also a contributing factor. Incinerators and environmentally sound practices on board have come into play. For TeamTec it has resulted in tremendous growth. Thirty-five years ago, less than 10 incinerators were sold on an annual basis. Now, we produce more than 10 units per week,” Auestad states.
The rules and regulations are not likely to stop at this level. New restrictions on emissions into the atmosphere are underway. TeamTec incinerators have, depending on the model, emissions of only 10 percent of the permissible level according to the latest IMO regulations. Together with a dependable and fuel-efficient product, TeamTec has become the world’s largest manufacturer of marine incinerators.
TeamTec’s agents currently work in over twenty countries worldwide. Such is the inherent quality of the products, and the universal requirement of ships to have equipment in accordance with IMO standards, that an international market is not difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, the guidance and expertise of the NME provides an opportunity that TeamTec is clearly not prepared to ignore.
The fact that NME is so warmly speaking of by so many of its members, only serves to confirm its invaluable contribution to the success of the Norwegian maritime shipping industry. “Through a cooperative effort with the member organizations within the European Maritime Equipment Council we can, amongst other things, have an impact on conditions and relations during international fairs and conferences over the whole world,” concludes Halvard Olafsen. The whole world is also the market available to Norway’s maritime industry, and the Norwegian Maritime Exporters is, to many, the gateway.