Generations catches up with Aamlid at the end of a busy day before he heads off to something he enjoys regularly in Singapore: a concert by a world-class performer. This time his wife joins him from Norway, on one of her many visits during the 11 years he has been stationed in Singapore.
It is not unusual for suppliers to have a site office in a yard during the commissioning of a project. But what has kept a full ABB project team working inside this yard for 11 years? Including seven drill ships built in Brazil and other projects to which this office contributed, the total number of its projects is about 30. Up to 10 semi-submersible rig projects in various stages were active at one time.
"We still have the rigidity and structure of documentation and databases and still transmit formal letters, but instead of preparing piles of paper and sending them, we deliver them upstairs," says Hallvard Aamlid. "If there is an issue, the document controller comes down and talks to us. It’s not so much about reducing the amount of documentation as making the use of it more interactive."
"Face-to-face project meetings happen several times a week," according to Aamlid. "We have managed to tune into what they need," he says, "and you have a much better relationship with people when you talk face to face." His experience is that communicating via email often creates conflicts since you cannot respond to an immediate reaction. Face to face you can quickly adjust your communication and deal with issues before they escalate to a time consuming discussion that involves several parties. Instead of trying to nail each other down to the details in the documentation, the yard and the supplier teams work together to find the shortest route to the desired result.
Charges for work outside the agreed scope of a project are a common source of conflict in projects won on price. Unforeseen problems, as well as delays, can cause overruns that damage both profitability and relationships.
"We hardly ever have discussions about our hours with the yard," says Aamlid. He attributes this to the fact that the ABB team has worked closely with the yard to plan and re-plan commissioning to make optimal use of resources. This improves the predictability of scheduling.
Being on site and following a project closely has enabled the team to bring in specialists for short assignments when needed. This is better than training several crews on a rotation schedule.
The yard needs to maintain its neutrality on behalf of customers when it comes to the selection of equipment packages. So the model where a supplier holds a permanent project office inside the yard requires that the end customers find ABB’s solutions attractive and competitive.
"We could not have used this model project by project," Aamlid says. When ABB got its first contract with the yard in 2005 the plan included two rigs. How many people would be needed permanently was not easy to define, then a third and forth project came up. "We took an opportunity and adapted to the situation," says Hallvard Aamlid , who has worked on an unbroken chain of projects with Jurong Shipyard ever since.