The art of survival

The words survival and technology don’t just form the Survitec Group’s name, but also sum up everything about the business. The Group traces its heritage back to the 1850s and has grown over recent years as a result of the merger of several key manufacturers including liferaft manufacturer RFD, and air-sea equipment developer Beaufort. As this remit has continued to expand over the years, including establishing a network of over 600 service stations for through-life product support, so has Survitec’s reputation as an internationally renowned expert in critical safety and survival equipment.

“The most visible strength of the Survitec Group is our size and global coverage,” says Mark Barker who recently relocated from his role as managing director of Survitec’s Australian business to the newly created position of group marine sales director. “Our ability to serve customers out of 600 locations covering 2000 ports is unrivalled when it comes to providing safety and survival equipment to the industry.

“A further key strength is our ability to source and supply such an enormous range of safety and survival equipment which assists our customers in meeting their compliance requirements. Acting as a one-stop-shop for critical items through to ancillary products makes life much easier for procurement teams to get what they need in one place.”

In 2011, the Group welcomed two new names to the fold; the marine division of Cosalt PLC, and the SOLAS marine division of Zodiac. This brought a number of operational synergies, as well as filling market gaps such as cruise and passenger ferry, for liferafts and MES. More recently the Group acquired Abteilung Seerettung (Life Saving Appliances) and Servimar Sur SL’s Marine operations, providing new servicing facilities in key ports Bremerhaven, Emden and Algeciras. Then in July 2013 the purchase of Risk Safety Systems Inc, (RSS) an offshore safety specialist based in Houston was completed and brought into the Group.

“Whilst 2012 was very much focused on integrating these businesses and building on their historical strengths, 2013 has been all about targeted growth, introducing new products and capabilities, and also expanding our footprint. We’ve been developing a new MES for the offshore market and also a number of suits for offshore transit and over-the-side use. We’ve also introduced a new range of fire safety equipment for marine and offshore use, and have been working with a number of key accounts to roll out a full range of safety products and services,” highlights Mark.

This is in response to the significant growth that Survitec is seeing in its offshore segment. The company has long delivered equipment and services to such projects, as well as maintaining a very successful passenger and crew transit safety business with a rental fleet of over 30,000 immersion suits and Lifejacket Air Pocket (LAP) jackets, but now is building on this further with an even broader range. “Customers are keen on a cost competitive solution to all their safety and survival needs, and with the new MES we can offer complete onboard safety and survival with multiple means of safe evacuation. A number of orders for new build and refurbishments are already in place and we will be carrying out the first installations in the New Year. Customers have been asking us about this product for some time and we’re delighted to be bringing it to market after several months of intensive design and product trials,” elaborates Mark.

At present Survitec works within the broader offshore industry, as well as the oil and gas sector where it delivers both marine and operational support. This includes supporting major operators in the equipment of both their offshore platforms and the supply and crew transfer vessels that service the industry.

The biggest requirement from this market is the exacting safety standards and the need for reliable performance in the harshest conditions. As such, Survitec has developed a range of MES, lifejackets, liferafts and survival suits which are in use all over the world on offshore platforms, supply vessels, bulk carriers, container and freight ships. Furthermore the company is a major supplier of ancillary products including everything from distress flares, fire fighting equipment and deck cradles, to intrinsically safe lifejackets and lifebuoy lights. These systems are relied on the keep personnel safe in the event of an emergency.

Another area that has proved a great success is Survitec’s Global Liferaft Hire Programme, especially with major passenger carriers such as P&O, Holland America Line, and Carnival UK. Although it has been running for ten years now, this offering has only become global as of September 2012 and Survitec now has 7000 hire liferafts on vessels all over the world. The programme is also now gaining traction with the large ship operating companies responsible for container vessels, tankers, and bulk carriers like Rickmers Group, Bernhard Schulte, and AET Tankers.

Although Survitec has seen growth in many markets worldwide, several recent developments have been within the company’s more traditional markets such as the UK and Europe. “We’re continuing to expand our servicing footprint and in the last 12 months have added Bremerhaven and Algeciras to our portfolio,” explains Mark. “We recently announced a joint venture with Servaux which will operate in two very busy French ports in Marseille and Le Havre. These will be up and running in the next few months.”

In February, Survitec relocated its Gosport-based business to a new building, which is known as a centre of excellence for design. Elaborating on what this brings to the Group, Mark says: “Our Crewsaver brand has a tremendous heritage in the UK market for marine safety equipment and apparel such as lifejackets, immersion suits and buoyancy aids, and we wanted to give the team in Gosport facilities in which they could design and build future ranges in more modern and purpose-built surroundings.

“We are successfully taking the Crewsaver ranges into new geographies and have had excellent results in the leisure, commercial and emergency services markets in Australia and NewZealand already. We are also seeing a lot of success in our low profile life preserver for the Special Forces, bringing the Crewsaver brand to a completely new user base. With such a great foundation it is primed to grow – and our new facilities can adapt and grow with us,” he concludes.

Renowned survival equipment supplier
New marine evacuation system
Growth in offshore sector