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The specialists in high demand

The people behind a unique global maritime service

A trimmed tanker in a Norwegian fjord: two service technicians, both of whom have just arrived from Hamburg, work on an exposed propeller. Less than 24 hours later, they have repaired the faulty shaft seal. And while the ship sails on to its destination, the technicians fly to their next assignment—one is needed in Shanghai, the other in Cape Town.

Better service, less downtime

From an economic point of view, downtime in the shipping industry has a significant consequence: increased costs. Therefore, it is irrelevant whether it is an unexpected defect on a Norwegian tanker or the scheduled maintenance of a cruise ship. In order to avoid astronomical costs, operators must resort to a quick and competent service.

Thankfully, there are many specially trained technicians at OEMs, such as SKF Marine and OEM certified service stations, throughout the world who are committed to this cause. They can quickly reach any location in the world and carry out the commissioning of ships. This is very useful for the operators, as they know they can always turn to expert support when they need it. Installation, maintenance, repairs, and the retrofit and upgrades of OEM components can all be performed to the same high quality anywhere.

Technicians with outstanding knowledge

What sounds like a team exercise is actually in practice a one-man show. “In 70 percent of cases, we only send one employee out,” explains Jan Hoffmann, the SKF service team leader in Hamburg. “The technician takes on the role of service manager on site and gets the correct processes underway. This ranges from working on propellers to the coordination of target-focused project management.”

Their expertise is outstanding: Through regular training, the mechanics are well versed in the theoretical and practical side of all products relating to shaft components. Moreover, they must be recertified every three years.

OEM and OEM certified service technicians know the product better than anyone else.

Jan Hoffmann, team leader, SKF Marine

The technicians are also involved in product development. For Hoffmann, an important factor is: “Our colleagues don’t just get an overview of innovations, they can also pass on valuable input from the field.” In this way, the technicians possess knowledge of both the practical application and research—an advantage for the customer, as they have highly experienced experts whom they can trust and share feedback with.

Prepared around the world

Ship operators, shipyards, and also engine manufacturers around the world rely on the service. Therefore, customer locations and requirements vary drastically. This is a logistical challenge that requires meticulous planning.

As team leader, Hoffmann is responsible for the coordination of the specialists from Hamburg. First, he checks whether the local offices or contract partners have the capacity needed to perform the job. If they cannot fulfill the demands, a technician is sent out—even if they have to travel thousands of kilometers to reach the location. This network ensures that the customer can always count on high-quality service.

Everything is organized in advance, from travel planning and access to the shipyards to making detailed plans relating to the docks and the work to be completed. Being able to react flexibly to situations is an important part of the job, not just for the team leader, but also for the technicians. “Our lead times range from three months to one day. In both cases, the same high standards have to be met.”

Unique projects are implemented in this manner, just like the repair of an Italian cruise liner. In this case, a fishing net had damaged the sterntube. Within three days, the service team planned the procedure and then carried it out within 24 hours, while the vessel was in operation—the Mediterranean cruise was able to continue without losing time. Overall, it was a success for the operator, the passengers, and the service team.

The SKF crew is just one example of a global OEM service of this type. But whatever the situation, the effort is enormous and the contribution is important in keeping the maritime industry afloat in many locations.

Why use services from an OEM?

  • There from the start: The technicians are always fully involved—from development to actual use. They truly know the product inside and out.
  • Loyalty to the product: Every service employee identifies themselves with the OEM’s brand, they know the qualities of their company’s own product, and they handle it with extra care.
  • Quick and efficient: Upgrades, retrofits, repairs—all work is carried out with precision because the technicians are specially trained for the product.
  • Comprehensive knowledge: With full understanding of both the theory and the practice, technicians can correctly diagnose faults and efficiently resolve them.
  • Influence product development: Technicians learn from their experiences and feedback in the field. This enables them to improve future products and make upgrades.

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