November 1 - Germany-based shipping group Harren & Partner (H+P) has established SAL Engineering, a sister company to SAL Heavy Lift, which will provide specialised engineering services across its fleet, as well as to external customers.

Karsten Behrens, general manager at SAL Engineering, said the new company provides, "All engineering related to cargo operations including loading, lifting, ro-ro, flo-flo, cargo securing - everything that is needed to come up with good solutions, which requires specialised engineering."

HLPFI reported in July 2017 that H+P acquired SAL Heavy Lift from Japan-based Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha ("K" Line). H+P - which also owns Combi Lift - and SAL operate a fleet of 26 heavy lift ships, including multipurpose and heavy lift vessels with a lifting capacity up to 2000 tonnes, dock ships, and offshore construction vessels with DP2 capabilties.

SAL has remained as a separate brand with its headquarters in Hamburg. Its fleet of 15 heavy lift vessels continue to operate under the SAL banner together with four additional PK 116 vessels, bringing the total fleet of SAL branded heavy lift vessels to 19, 12 of which have lifting capacities in excess of 900 tonnes.

The establishment of SAL Engineering essentially formalises the heavy lift transport engineering departments of SAL Heavy Lift, Combi-Lift and H+P under one umbrella.

It will comprise 30 staff, the core being based in Hamburg, along with captains and engineers in the Philippines, and the Netherlands. Four staff from the Combi-Lift engineering team have been integrated into the company.

"The new thing that we have carved out a new company - SAL Engineering. We have put all the engineering entities under one roof and formed them into one independent company," said Behrens.

Transport engineering for its sister companies will be the main focus of the SAL Engineering, added Behrens,  "But this new company also allows us to provide these engineering services to external parties as well."

Behrens explained that SAL Heavy Lift has provided technical engineering services to external parties in the past. However, as a shipping line, it is not easy to provide such services to third-party clients. The establishment of an independent company means it's easier to market these engineering services to the wider market.

"We have seen quite strong demand for the specialised engineering that we do on a day-to-day basis. There are not many companies around that really can do it. A big benefit is that we not only do the engineering and planning work, we also have much experience in executing our solutions in reality.

"Behrens said firms interested in such services include surveyors; fabricators that need to know how their cargo can be transported safely; forwarders that lack the resources or expertise in the field; or other engineering companies that may lack the specialist knowledge that SAL has acquired over many years.

Behrens, who has been with SAL for over ten years, said that engineering has become increasingly important as cargoes and vessels increase in size, while projects become ever-more complex. "What we also see is demand for proper planning and documentation from the surveyor/client side. Everything needs to be planned in much more detail than in the past."

Moreover, he drew attention to the high value of the cargoes transported and the eye-wateringly high consequential losses faced if they don't arrive in time. "That leads to a very high focus on quality, HSE, and also from the insurance side, of course. There's a huge focus on the safety of a transport. The main way to ensure this for your clients, and yourself, is proper planning - that's what we do, and we're good at it."