Feature Interview: Sarens Regional Director, Western Europe
Sarens talks to Rutger Kouwenhoven about award-winning projects
Sarens talks to Rutger Kouwenhoven about award-winning projects and more
This month, Sarens spoke to Rutger Kouwenhoven, Regional Director, Western Europe about award-winning projects, The Group's work in the region, and what the future holds in store.
The Group has over 750 employees in Western Europe. It also boasts the Samoco organisation, a full-service industrial assembly company active in various markets like petrochemical (maintenance work, equipment setting, bundle extraction, and turnaround management), industrial moving, and port crane services.
To provide services to the region, Sarens Western Europe relies on over 350 all-terrain cranes from 30t up to 1.000t, lattice boom cranes from 50t up to 750t, over 120 axle lines SPMT, and a wide range of heavy transport trailers and trucks. They also have easy access to other Sarens Group equipment, including all technical solutions equipment like barges, strand jacks, and gantry, skidding, and tower systems.
We asked Rutger about the region's recent successes as well as his thoughts on the future. Here's what he had to say:
Sarens recently won two ESTA awards for projects in Western Europe. Could you tell us more about them?
During a recent ESTA event, we received two Awards of Excellence: one in the category of Lattice Boom Cranes and another in the SPMT category. Twelve experienced industry jurors grant these awards, and we consider this a great acknowledgement of our quality and performance considering the stringent criteria for quality, complexity, problem solving and execution.
We received awards for the following projects:
- Queen Maxima Bridge, the Netherlands. Sarens completed door-to-door transport and lifting of two bridge elements for the new Queen Maxima Bridge in Alphen aan den Rijn. The bridge parts weighed 230t and 280t and were about 30m tall. We used the 650t crawler crane with superlift to lift them into place, and our twin barges Karel & Victor to provide a stable lifting platform. We successfully executed the project according to the highest safety standards.
- SAAone Consortium Railway Bridge, the Netherlands. We used Sarens SPMTs to maneuver the world's largest railway bridge, which weighed a whopping 8.400t and measured 255m long x 17m wide x 50m high. This was part of the Dutch government's $1 billion Euro contract to build, upgrade and later operate an important section of the A1 and A6 highway between Amsterdam and Almere. This was the heaviest railway bridge ever moved by road, and by far the longest single-span bridge across a motorway! You can see a video of project highlights here, or a complete time-lapse video here.
In 2016 and 2017, Sarens executed a wide array of projects in the region. Could you tell us about the major ones?
We operate an extensive fleet of cranes and heavy transport equipment for a variety of projects, from smaller rental jobs to complete turnkey operations. Some recent project highlights include:
- University Hospital of Aarhus, Denmark: We're responsible for the mechanical installation and heavy lifting of a cyclotron and three 34t gantries.
- Exxon Antwerp (DCU) and Rotterdam (RAHC) expansion projects: Sarens had the privilege of cooperating on these two challenging projects by engineering and executing all horizontal and vertical movements, including heavy lifts requiring CC9800.
- Pioneering Spirit: We contributed to the development of this huge innovative offshore vessel by lifting, transporting and installing all heavy components using multi-wheels, heavy cranes, barges and mechanics to install everything onboard. We have found creative solutions to all kinds of challenges by using Sarens equipment.
- Beatrice Wind Farm: At several UK sites, we provide heavy lift and transport services to build jackets for the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm. Considering the weight of the jackets (up to 1.200t) we use our heaviest equipment, like the SGC and various lattice boom cranes up to 1.600t, to provide the most efficient and safe solutions.
How do you see the existing market, its future outlook, and opportunities?
We have had difficult years behind us and certainly the major changes in oil and gas have hit the entire industry hard. Nevertheless, civil projects like infrastructure, in addition to existing maintenance contracts, have created continuity.
In the past few years, there has been an increased focus on alternative energy and today we are very active in both onshore and offshore wind farms. Energy remains important, and developments in alternative power sources will have a great impact on the development of resources and our entire sector.
Now that the market is picking up, we see a far healthier balance between supply and demand in the crane industry. In our region, we have defined a clear strategy for continuous growth. With our ability to combine our wide range, an almost unlimited amount of equipment, and our mechanical and installation services, we can offer any engineered solution to our clients against the highest safety standards.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
In line with the above developments in the market, we have intensified our focus on available projects. Although the number of projects will be fewer, there remain sufficient challenging projects to justify our future plans. And yes, those score high on our target list!
Because the quantity of projects is decreasing, competition will be strong: this is why we focus on quality and reliability. The market is demanding more from us and it is up to us to adapt ourselves to their expectations. Quality and reliability are essential.
You have been associated with Sarens for a long time. How have you seen the region evolve under your leadership?
We have worked hard to bring the various countries in our region together, bringing various mindsets together to create a uniform direction leading to one uniform goal. By aligning our organisations and combining and exchanging knowledge, people and equipment, this process has evolved almost in a natural way.
This not only has internal advantages, but our clients benefit from it. By combining forces, we are now able to offer more value to clients by offering specialised solutions. Our new WEU Wind Division as well as the extraction activities of Samoco are good examples of this.
What do you believe is Sarens' key strength?
Our key strength is our ability to create the best, safest and most economical solution for any client request by using in-house solutions and equipment like our cranes, SPMTs, barges, jacking and tower systems or by developing tailor-made solutions. With our creative team of product developers and engineers, we make our slogan of "Nothing too heavy, nothing too high" reality!
Can you tell us about your community involvement in the region?
We support various local community initiatives throughout the region, either by sponsoring or by participating in the organisation. We have allocated special budgets for this. We also have active relations with schools and universities. We provide training and offer college students internships to familiarise them with our industry.