December 2018: The industrial maintenance market has high potential and Sarens has been serving the market since 1972 through its SAMOCO division. With increasing complexity of the market and requirement of sophisticated heavy lifting and transport solutions, Sarens is strongly committing its global expertise, excellence, engineering solutions, and innovative technologies to this sector. To discuss Sarens strengths, plans, and solutions for the maintenance sector, we interviewed some key people taking care of the maintenance sector in Sarens.

How do you think the maintenance sector in the heavy lifting and engineered transport industry has changed over the years? How has the sector evolved?

Maintenance support for lifting and transport operations has over the years become a captive market.

  • During the past twenty years facility owners have eliminated the need for ownership of their own cranes and lifting equipment and have placed a total reliance on professional crane operating companies to support the dally maintenance programs. The driving factor for outsourcing this specialised activity allows the owner’s maintenance teams to concentrate on their specific work, thereby eliminating the responsibility of calculating what type of crane and configuration is needed. Additionally, they no longer have the legal and operational responsibilities for the ownership of cranes and lifting equipment.
  • Most importantly, there has been an increased focus on safety and quality.
  • The rigging activity is now the responsibility of the crane company while it used to be with the mechanical contractor. This creates a need for highly certified rigging personnel. 

What does Sarens offer with its Maintenance business line?

Sarens experience, commitment, and in-depth knowledge of the key sectors of the industry enables the company to fully support the routine maintenance requirements especially for operational refineries and petrochemical facilities. This would include but not be limited to, all lifting applications that are required to support a facility’s preventative maintenance programs, i.e. replacing components such as pumps/valves/compressors/heat exchanger bundles/transformers/air coolers, etc, along with additional work including material handling and warehouse operations. 

Sarens is considered as one of the most professional and trusted partner in the world, operating globally in 65 countries. The company’s comprehensive fleet of modern cranes and transportation systems, places the company as a leader in the industry, and therefore providing maintenance support services to the oil and gas sectors of industry is an area that is entirely within our scope of services. 

What are the markets offering opportunities for maintenance jobs?

Primarily the oil and gas sectors, which includes refineries, processing facilities, and petrochemical plants, offer a wide scope. Additionally, crane support maintenance contracts are also outsourced by the mining industry and steel manufacturing plants. Wind sector is evolving at a rapid pace and requires sophisticated technology and solutions. Therefore, there is a wide range of opportunities available to target.  

What are the global trends? Which regions offer greater business prospects right now?

The current opportunities for maintenance support contracts are in Europe, however major operators such as Shell, Exxon, and BP tend to have outsourced crane support contracts on a global basis, which is also becoming the norm in the Middle East and some South East Asian countries. 

What are the types of equipment used in the maintenance jobs we take?

Typically, the following equipment will form a part of a lifting contractor’s scope of supply, for their day-to-day facility maintenance operations:

  • Selection of mobile telescopic cranes ranging from 25T to 120T
  • Comprehensive selection of lifting equipment like slings/shackles/lifting & spreader beams.
  • Fork lifts & telescopic handlers
  • Cherry pickers, access equipment, and aerial working platforms
  • Tube bundle pulling systems
  • Jacking & skidding equipment
  • Comprehensive range of pull-lifts, chain blocks, tirfors, and jacks
  • Steel & timber mats & blocking
  • Trucks & trailers or agricultural type tractors & trailer units
  • Man-baskets & load lines 

Do clients require other services apart from providing equipment for the job? Are we in place to provide these additional services to our clients?

Apart from the equipment, a client requires supervisors that are technically able to prepare the different jobs and good riggers to execute them. Sarens’ reliable equipment and responsible personnel with a detailed attention to safety and wellbeing, ensures continuity of the clients safety record and high standards of workmanship. 

What are the criteria a client has in mind while selecting a service provider for a maintenance job? Do these criteria differ across different regions?

The type of information and references that a client requires for assurance and prequalification are as follows:

  • Crane fleet - number & types/capacities/boom configurations & combinations
  • Ancillary support equipment
  • Transportation capabilities
  • Availability of other types of equipment like fork-lifts/access equipment, etc.
  • Safety statistics & environmental policy
  • Engineering support
  • Quality assurance & quality control
  • Certification & compliance
  • Technical competence
  • Company owned equipment, preventative maintenance procedures, and support programs  
  • Equipment & personnel reliability & availability
  • Flexibility and proximity to provide cranes and riggers on daily changing basis.
  • Quick response time in case of breakdowns or emergencies. 

Do clients have a tendency to trade off between safety and cost and how does Sarens provide the best combination of both?

There is no trade of between safety and cost, and under no circumstances whatsoever would Sarens safety procedures be compromised for cost. Sarens safety policy is one of the best in the industry and potential clients will expect us to adhere to their safety policies, as well as our own whilst working in their facility. On the contrary, we notice that clients are asking for more safety supervision on site and are willing to pay for it. Moreover, another trend we notice is that clients are requiring more preventative screening of their contractors. Some clients are testing their contractors before they can start working on site. Different disciplines are being integrated in these assessments and more and more rigging & carnage are being included.  

Since the market has become very competitive, to what extent does Sarens combat local competition? In other words, why do clients choose us over local maintenance suppliers? 

Sarens tackles the engineering and construction challenges by fully supporting the concepts of project design, plant lay-out and constructability. This involvement ensures that the most cost effective and advanced methods of transport and lifting are used during the movement, erection and installation of major elements of equipment. Moreover, precision engineering and detailed planning are considered key factors in the successful execution of new construction, plant maintenance, and shutdown operations. All these makes Sarens a preferred partner.

Local presence near the plant is an important factor for the client regarding flexibility and response time, especially for maintenance contracts. For shutdowns, this is of lesser importance, however the proximity of the nearest crane depot to job site determines transport costs and as such our competitive position. Sarens has opened crane depots near all the major clients so that we could provide them global standard of services being right next to them. In future, we are planning to open more depots covering all the regions. 

Do you think the role of technical expertise of a service provider is key for the maintenance sector? What specific skills does Sarens have to be the one-stop shop solution provider in maintenance?

Sarens has all the attributes for this type of work as the company embraces the engineering requirements and lifting challenges of tomorrow’s world, by fully supporting the concepts of plant design, process equipment lay-outs and facility maintenance. This ensures that the most cost effective and advanced methods of lifting and transport are used during plant maintenance operations, shutdowns and refurbishments.

Precision engineering and detailed planning are considered one of the key factors in the successful execution of plant maintenance and shutdown operations, which of course will be supported by reliable equipment and responsible personnel with a detailed attention to safety, thereby ensuring continuity of the client’s safety record and high standards of workmanship are maintained.

Technical expertise is ofcourse important, as is knowledge of the plant itself and the quality/safety standards of the employed manpower.