As Mammoet steps up its focus on the renewables sectors and implements changes to its organisation to tackle the growing markets, the global engineered heavy lifting and transport specialist has criticised the wind energy industry’s lump-sum approach to projects.

Mammoet ceo Paul van Gelder said: “We have decided to set up a global onshore wind group; a group of specialists that will develop our wind portfolio. This will not change the present setup of the regional structure in Mammoet – we will continue to undertake projects through our regions – but this group will oversee all the wind projects in the regions, capture lessons learned, optimise wind-specific assets and also liaise with the innovations department to find the right innovations to serve this key market.”

Led by Pieter Jacobs, who will take on the role of key account manager for all wind energy OEMs, the wind group is tasked with setting up several framework contracts with manufacturer’s “to provide them with the best service possible”, added van Gelder.

Offshore wind projects will still be coordinated through Mammoet’s regional set ups, with the support of the company’s global segment lead Francisco Rodrigues.

According to van Gelder, there also needs to be an improved approach toward renewable energy projects. He explained: “I am not ashamed to say that we have certainly learned our lessons in the past. It should not be a secret to the industry that there are challenges coming with lump-sum projects – both for the developers but also the sub-contractors in heavy lifting and transport. The lesson that we have experienced is that combining transport, craneage and installation (TCI) is not the ideal approach.

“In onshore wind, work takes place in an area that can by definition cause delays, thanks to windy conditions, geographic remoteness or other factors. This makes lines of responsibility blurry if the entire TCI scope is undertaken by one sub-contractor. We are promoting a model where the scope is divided with transport and craneage in one hand and installation on the other hand, whereby it is clear for the developers who holds the responsibility and it is clear in which direction they need to turn if things are not running as they should be.”

He said that the key is to have focus and clarity of roles. “We feel comfortable and have undoubted capability in transport and craneage, but installation and commissioning are not part of our core services, so it is better that these scopes are undertaken by specialists in these disciplines.

“If you take out this blurring, you also remove much of the risk of a project. It is like building a house: whenever you have a delay with the carpenters, the carpenters will start to complain and point at the bricklayers, and the bricklayers will potentially blame the team that laid the foundations. Making sure there is clarity in the roles will help developers or EPCs to manage projects better. Installation, commissioning, controlling the full logistics supply chain – these are activities that require completely different expertise.”

Jan Kleijn, Mammoet chief operating officer, agreed: “In the past, in wind, the market has operated under a different model, where due to our position as a very knowledgeable provider of heavy lifting and transport we took responsibility for the full scope. However, we are the specialists in heavy lifting and heavy transportation; we want to play that role. We should be honest to ourselves and to the industry: we do not want to undertake commissioning and installation scopes, because they are not what we are best at; they are not our cup of tea.”

The company is also stepping up its campaign to work more closely with freight forwarders from the early stages of projects – an approach that the company said will help end clients realise significant whole-project efficiencies.

Van Gelder explained that the company wants to follow the strategy of its former rival ALE – which it acquired in 2020 – in that it intends to be a strong partner for forwarders.

“When certain key decisions are made early on during projects, it can be difficult to adjust them later, and then the opportunity for greater efficiencies – either in the supply chain or in production output at the end facility – are sadly lost. So, to provide the best service to freight forwarders we need to be involved early in the process. This early involvement allows us to sit down with customers and look at the engineering that is needed for each project and provide guidance on what we can lift, what we can transport, what the sizes of the modules should be, and so on. That way, the customer will also benefit,” he said.

Group commercial officer Darren Adams added that from an operational point view, “this will allow us to deploy the assets to where they need to be on a global perspective, and it will allow our customers greater clarity on what is possible, earlier on during projects”.

“This extends across the whole project scope. If we talk to freight forwarding companies early on during projects we can present the toolbox that we have available to us as a business to see what efficiencies are possible. For example, we have the MTC 15 crane, which is a modular crane that is easily assembled and disassembled. This crane could be positioned in the middle of the jungle, theoretically creating a heavy lift terminal in the middle of nowhere, perhaps meaning our customer wouldn’t need to charter heavy lift ships, saving time and money over the project cycle.”

Adams commented that this approach is about focusing its expertise where it will create value – and that this will vary on a project-by-project basis. “Sometimes we’ll be working with freight forwarders, but there will be some occasions when freight forwarders will be working for us. For example, if we receive a request to bid for a project with a majority breakbulk cargo, Mammoet might be invited to take the lead on its transportation, due to the size of the loads… We are not saying that we are never going to take on the shipping – we will if needed – but we will do it in partnership with a forwarder,” he explained.