Delivering the best
IOP Marine is a manufacturer of niche equipment for the maritime industry, specialising in equipment supporting diesel engines. Its two key products are hydraulic power packs and fuel injector test rigs, both of which have been the bedrock of IOP Marine’s business since it began in the 1960s when it was set up in response to prospecting by engine manufacturer MAN Diesel. Since the beginning of the 2000s it has begun expanding the boundaries of its product portfolio to include a wider selection of problem solving equipment, investing into research and development (R&D) to achieve its aims.
“When IOP Marine began we essentially had a monopoly on the market because we were so close to MAN Diesel that no other companies were supplying accessories for its engines,” says managing director Jens Groth. “As engine manufacturing started moving to Asia in the 1980s and 1990s, however, so did a lot of our trade, and business for other subsuppliers like us, meaning by the end of the 1990s IOP Marine had quite a limited market share.
“At this point we realised we needed to advertise ourselves to the market, making clients see they had a choice between local – for example Korean – tools for their MAN engines or our equipment. We are the OEM supplier for MAN Diesel engines, the only one with original technical drawings for its engines, and to this day remain officially approved and recommended. This approach worked and business over the last 12 years has really taken off. IOP Marine has expanded from being just a small part of another company to a completely independent business.”
Though it operates independently, IOP Marine enjoys the advantage of support by parent company Chris Marine. The international diesel engine maintenance specialist acquired IOP Marine at the start of 2009 and the two companies have forged a strong bond that sees Chris Marine providing full maintenance and repair packages for all of IOP Marine’s products. The pair also take a joint approach to R&D, with both departments meeting to discuss problems and solutions together. Many more opportunities are opened up through this approach.
The range of IOP Marine products cover both two stroke and four stroke engines. Apart from fuel injector test rigs and hydraulic power packs the company today provides a wide selection of tools for cylinder heads and cylinder liners, engine frames, exhaust valve housing, pistons, valve seats and spindles, and various accessories. The company has a particularly close relationship with MAN Diesel and Wärtsilä but it also co-operates with others including Mitsubishi, Caterpillar, General Motors and Rolls Royce.
“We have a very good relationship especially with MAN Diesel and Wärtsilä so that when they have issues or are about to launch a new engine onto the market, they come to us and ask what we can do to provide support,” Jens explains. “For example MAN is about to launch a new two stroke gas engine and the sole supplier for fuel injector testers is us. It means we are always two steps ahead of third party competitors. It also means that our R&D department is always involved with a lot of projects, researching optimal solutions for engines launched over the next few years.”
IOP Marine’s decades-long success can be attributed to a number of factors and its R&D department is one of the most important. Skilled technicians and engineers with years of experience collaborate with both the manufacturer as well as colleagues in Chris Marine to develop products that maintain the high quality the company has become known for. Often years will be put into the production of a single type of equipment so that it delivers reliability, durability and functionality. This is why IOP Marine products stand above the competition.
Jens highlights other strengths: “IOP Marine is small and has just 20 people across the company. This gives us the benefit of being fast and flexible, with everybody remaining together in the company’s goals. It also means we can be very close to our clients. For example, Wärtsilä is a huge company and planning with them can take weeks or months but if at any point they call us and say there is a meeting in Helsinki on Friday at 9am, we will be in Helsinki on Friday at 9am ready for discussion. The flexibility throughout our organisation and the competence of our R&D department is why our clients choose us.”
Business for IOP Marine has been very good since 2011. Despite a drop in business during the 2009/2010 period, which led to the company downsizing and losing two employees, its quality ensured ongoing business and a record year throughout 2011. This meant it could hire two more staff, bringing its roster back up to 20, whilst work continued on supporting several R&D projects. Meanwhile, Jens and his sales team have been contacting and travelling the world to spread awareness of IOP Marine’s products; most recently two weeks were spent in Africa.
IOP Marine is thus looking forward with optimism. “Beginning several years ago, our main focus has been to move beyond our two main products and so we have launched several new products that have been well received by the market,” says Jens. “The newest tool being designed is an ultrasonic cleaner for onboard and workshop use. It has been requested several times by customers through the years but we have always been focused on our systems.
“Now we finally have looked into designs and discovered some very good solutions, with our first big unit already sold and receiving overwhelming feedback. Every time we look at a new product we want to make sure we can stand by it. Customers automatically expect that a certain brand will deliver a certain quality. This has put pressure on us to create something that really lives up to expectations and we feel the ultrasonic cleaner delivers.”
New products, innovative thinking, strong partnerships, and the support of Chris Marine all illustrate the achievements of IOP Marine. With these driving it, the company is certain to continue on its route of success well into the future.
Excels at R&D
Strong parent company