Modern efficiency

Experts in modern shipbuilding, Vaagland Båtbyggeri AS is a family owned company first founded in 1927 and based on Vågland close to Halsa, in Norway. By 1962, it had built 63 wooden vessels and since then has delivered over 70 steel vessels of various types. The company specialises in the building of fishing vessels, as well as undertaking work on cargo vessels, offshore ships and service ships. Typical work includes new build construction including equipment outfitting and painting on vessels ranging from 30 to 90 metres in length. Oyvind Vaagland, managing director, describes the company’s main clients: “We operate a wide customer base including a range of vessels from all sorts of industries. Our clients are mainly Norwegian ship owners and shipping companies but we have also completed work for customers in Iceland, the UK and even Mexico.”

All of the work is carried out in Vaagland’s dry dock, which is 95 x 17 x seven metres in capacity and covered by the dock hall which measures 100 by 24 metres and has three cranes with a ten, 32 and 50 tonne capacity respectively. The large dock hall is built in connection with a 1080 square metre section hall and outfitting workshop of 1780 square metres so the entire construction process can be completed undercover. Vaagland’s extensive facilities also include a 50 metre long outfitting quay with a crane capable of lifting up to 18 tonnes.

This undercover workspace ensures that the work is completed to the best possible finish and means that production is not affected by adverse outside conditions. Production is also more efficient with short transportation distances and greater utilisation of working hours. As an integrated shipyard, Vaagland can carry out all stages of the construction process from planning to test driving new vessels. The company has an effective administration department and employs approximately 45 skilled technicians and engineers, which can be increased to 120 through professional subcontractors.

Oyvind comments on what sets Vaagland apart from its competition: “I believe that our covered dry dock facility is the biggest strength of the company and this creation of a streamlined production system has been a major focus for us. Logistically it is also beneficial when you look at the distances equipment has to travel to be installed onboard the ship and staff can move quickly between the different workshops. We have a very strong reputation as a traditional family company and we place as much importance on quality as the design of a ship which is an important issue for us.”

Within Vaagland there is a focus on custom-made products and services as opposed to following one industrialised process. As part of this Vaagland works closely with its clients to ensure that each vessel provides practical solutions as well as a long operating life. This process begins with the identification of the clients’ needs and which solutions address these, from which specifications and calculations are drawn up including a price quote and delivery schedule. Once a contract has been negotiated, the vessel plans and drawings are prepared and approved by the necessary regulatory authorities, before construction begins. “Many customers have preferences about which products they want onboard of their ships and this equipment design is one area we specialise in. Often the ship-owners already own or operate a similar vessel and this experience of onboard equipment is incorporated early in the design process,” says Oyvind.

Recently Vaagland completed a substantial project for a 70-metre live fish carrier ship, which marks the company’s move into newer markets. Oyvind explains the contract: “At the time of construction this vessel is the world’s biggest living fish carrier and is the first vessel of this kind that we have supplied for this market. We’ve delivered a very good product to the end user and hope that this will give us new opportunities within this area, which is a very large and lucrative market within Norway and worldwide as well.”

Other major contracts include two seismic vessels for Norwegian company Sanco Holding AS, which are operated by Reservoir Exploration Technology (RXT). Again this was a new type of market for Vaagland and the company has received excellent feedback from the operators who are very satisfied with the ship’s performance. Going forward Vaagland has secured a new contract with Lenangen Fiskeriselskap AS for the equipment of a modern purse seine vessel to be delivered in the spring of 2011.

The impact of the economic downturn has been far reaching even in the smallest regions as Oyvind highlights: “Before the financial crisis we had a number of lucrative contracts in place but following the recession we have seen that the market has been more competitive regarding new contracts. Despite this with the market beginning to show signs of an upturn, we have a lot of different quotes to work with so we are optimistic about our position.”

Following on from this he concludes with Vaagland’s vision for the future: “Naturally we want to maintain the quality levels that we have today for all of our products and services. We also want to expand our position within the newer markets of seismic vessels and live fish carriers. Being located in a relatively small place in Norway means one of our biggest challenges is obtaining new employees. I believe that a large part of the company’s future growth is based on the availability, and employment, of people with the right skills and knowledge base for the work we do. On the other hand, we have a small turnover of employees from when they first start to work within the company. This gives us the opportunity to educate and invest in people on a long-term basis. This again is a great benefit for Vaagland Båtbyggeri and our end customers!”

Strong reputation

Large covered dry dock facilities

Recent major 70 metre vessel contract