Number one fan

Novenco Group is a globally recognised Danish manufacturer of leading edge heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) equipment with more than 60 years of experience in the maritime sector. Since 1947 it has expanded both its product range and geographical presence, today engaging with two key sectors – Building and Industry, Marine and Offshore – and possesses manufacturing facilities in both Denmark and China. Sales branches in the Netherlands, Brazil, Singapore and China complete the group’s network.

Shipping & Marine last spoke to Novenco Group at the beginning of 2010 when the company was beginning to regain ground following low business activity during the financial crisis. Today, 18 months later, it is seeing an ongoing rejuvenation propelled by changes in market approach. Group chief operations officer Anders Thorsted talks about this in greater detail: “We have picked up lost ground since the crisis in 2009 and early 2010, especially on our merchant and special vessel segments. We’ve managed to balance our capacity to the demand whilst the demand has been showing a good positive trend.

“One of the big changes we have made was to separate our marine and offshore business unit from the building and industry unit. One of the biggest challenges 18 months ago was that the two markets have very different supply chains and a very different way of executing projects. Separating the two was a natural consequence of actually wanting to provide the two markets with better attention. You can hunt down or harvest synergies in many different ways but we always believed that a bigger scale of business would benefit us; by making the infrastructural changes, we have achieved this. Yes, of course, now we are looking at two different businesses and two different companies each with less volume but we can now better fit the supply chain and sales toward the appropriate market, thereby serving the customers better.”

Despite splitting the two market streams, the group has retained a unification that enables it to dip into either supply chain to help the other; indeed, marine and offshore clients continue to make up to 50 per cent of the building and industry supply chain. One product that has been popular enough to bridge the two supply chains is the ZerAx.

Lasse Lindberg Nielsen, director of Novenco Shanghai, talks more about the fan and what benefits it offers the clients: “We have here a product that after five years R&D and testing offers up to 92 per cent in efficiencies – that basically speaks for itself. To highlight some of the benefits for the customers, we can mention: huge savings on oil and electricity, large CO2 reductions and possible income from sale of CO2 quotas, significantly reduced sound levels, lower technical installation costs, lower service and maintenance costs, and sharper Corporate Social Responsibility profile. The 92 per cent efficiency and very unique performance curves are mainly obtained due to new improved impellers, hub, guide vanes and tip clearance between the impeller and fan casing.”

A host of clients have signed up for ZerAx systems. Most recently, passenger ferry company Viking Line has requested one for its new LNG-fuelled ship NB 1376. Expected for delivery at the start of 2013, ferry is being built by STX Finland at its Turku yard around a design that offers minimal environmental impact. The use of ZerAx is an important component of this as it runs on less fuel than alternative models whilst also being quieter than competing fans by nine decibels. The vessel will operate on a Turku-Åland Islands-Stockholm route and carry 2800 passengers, 1275 metres of cargo lane and 500 metres for passenger vehicles. The project will be an important moment in both Novenco Group and Viking Lines’ history and reinforces the Danish manufacturer’s position as a market leader.

Novenco Group’s recovery over the last 18 months has been steady, with the group’s expanded Chinese production – first set up in 2007 – key to this success. “The key point of success for Novenco China is that we have been able to transfer the exact same or even higher quality of products from Denmark to China,” Lasse explains. “In addition to this we are able with our products to offer the end user a very environment friendly and power saving HVAC system that no one else in the market can offer. Finally we have, through very strong relations with the Chinese shipyards, been able to offer a high quality of service from the sales phase through system design, project management to installation and commissioning.”

“During the last 18 months we have consolidated and stabilized our maritime and offshore factory in China,” Anders agrees. “Four years ago we were just transferring products and projects, hiring people and setting up the region, but over the last year and a half Novenco Wuxi has actually been running its own business. Often customers will express reservations about products made in China but we don’t want them to think in terms of made in China or made in Denmark – we want people just to think ‘made by Novenco’.”

Looking forward, as Anders highlights, the development of Novenco Group’s business relies on developing a better impression of its Chinese manufacture as well as more flexible supply chain model: “Any of our maritime customers can come and visit the factory in China and the ones that have are convinced that the choice we’ve made is working. This is important of course because the factory is now a major part of our supply chain strategy for marine and offshore. On the Offshore side, we are looking to make it more agile so that it could, for example, take products from the Building and Industry factory or else forge partnerships with one or more third party suppliers in Europe. Of course the Far East is rapidly expanding its Offshore sector but Europe remains an important market, particularly related to the activities in the North Sea.”

Business flourishing over the last 18 months
New ZerAx fan has proved successful
Continuing to expand its Far East activities