Abu Dhabi Ship Building: Developing world class facilities and vessels

December 5, 2017 in Manufacturing

Globalisation has intensified in recent decades, putting an onus on transport modes and infrastructure for developing economies. With Abu Dhabi, the importance of shipping lanes has taken on greater significance – and increased demand has played nicely into the hands of Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB).

Industry Middle East Magazine was privileged to recently catch up with Dr. Khaled Al Mazrouei, Chief Executive Officer of ADSB, who very kindly provided an overview of the company’s success.

What is the history of the company?

Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) is a UAE-based Public Joint Stock Company, established in 1996. ADSB is a unit of Mubadala Development Company, an investment arm of Abu Dhabi Government.

The company comprises of a world-class ship yard spread over 330,000 square metres of land in Musafah shipyard and 12,000 square metres in the Mina Zayed Shipyard, specialized in the construction, dry-docking, repairs, maintenance, refits, upgrades and afloat repairs of commercial vessels, dredgers, naval and military vessels, maintenance and refurbishment of jack up rigs and jack up accommodation barges, pipe laying vessels etc.

In addition, ADSB recently expanded services to the offshore oil & gas sectors for maintenance and refurbishment of rigs and platforms and fabrication work to support the offshore EPCI companies.

How big is the company in terms of annual turnover, number of employees and market position?

The company has reported annual revenues of Dh790 million in 2014 and Dh791 million in 2015. The company employs more than 1,200 employees. ADSB leverages its reputation, central location and global network of strategic partners to consolidate its position as a leading shipbuilder and support contractor for naval, military and commercial operators in the region.

Who owns Abu Dhabi Ship Building?

ADSB is 10 per cent owned by Abu Dhabi’s government, 40 per cent owned by Mubadala Development Company, and 50 per cent publicly traded on the ADX, Abu Dhabi’s Securities Exchange.

Tell me about the facilities, where you are located, how much space you occupy and what the layout looks like in terms of bays / docks / warehousing / manufacturing equipment?

A 330,000 square metre site, specialized in the construction, dry-docking, repairs, maintenance, refits, upgrades and afloat repairs of commercial vessels, rigs, dredgers and naval and military vessels made of steel, aluminium, fibre glass and composite materials.

The Synchro lift in Mussafah yard can accommodate vessels up to 80 metres in length and 20 metres breadth. The new floating drydock facility in Zayed port, with a land area of 12,000 square metres, can accommodate vessels up 180m in length and 30m breadth (inside).

Technical details of the yard and its facilities:

ADSB’s state-of-the-art shipyard in Abu Dhabi is fully equipped with the latest technology and highly advanced shipbuilding and repair equipment. The shipyard team is technically proficient and highly experienced professionals with expertise in constructions  and repairs of all types of modern Navy Ships and commercial ships made of steel, aluminium, fibre glass and composite materials and capable to handle all sophisticated projects.

The quality management system is in line with international standards and offers a systematic and structured approach that leads to sustaining healthy customer satisfaction levels.

In 2015, ADSB developed a new Through Life Support programme for naval ships, which is the first of its kind in the region named Naval Support Service Programme (NSS). It is an innovative and impressive process for through life maintenance and management of navy ships. The shipyard specialises in major midlife and navigational refits, installation, and upgrade of advanced integrated combat system.

Both ADSB facilities, the Synchro lift in and the new floating drydock in Mina Zayed, are fully prepared to meet all needs of the clients with high quality services and competitive rates.

The shipyard has 800+ man power at the workshops, which can be increased at any point in time, subject to volume of new business.  The workforce is multicultural, including employees from Europe, America, the Middle East, Indian sub-continent and Asia.

The shipyard has all major in-house workshops. In particular, steel and aluminium fabrication shops allow the construction of modular units with advanced outfitting using the latest 3D modeling techniques.

The mechanical workshop is well equipped to carry out repair and overhaul of valves, pumps, bow thrusters, and other propulsion systems, rudders, hydraulic machinery coolers and heaters.

ADSB also has diverse capabilities on pipe work, comprehensive range of electrical services, specialized outfitting services, calibration, sophisticated blasting and painting and hull treatment operations and composite moulding shops etc.  In addition, ADSB works with a number of in-house and external subcontractors who are available to commence work within a very short notice.

The Dry berth in Mussafah can accommodate vessels up to 80 metres long x 8 dry berths, Transfer system and 80 metres long x 2 covered dry berths, 20 dry berths for vessels less than 50 metres.

The Wet berth in Mussafah with 450 metre length can accommodate vessels up to160 metres Lth X 1 – draft 6 metres, 80 metres Lth X 2 – draft 5, 50 metres Lth X 1 –  draft 5 metres, 30 metres Lth X 4 –  draft 3 metres.

Travel lift in Mussafah can lift vessels up to 50 metres length and 500 tons weight. The yard is also supported by other mobile equipments such as fork lifts, shuttle lifts, and mobile cranes.

Floating Dock in Mina Zayed is 180 metres long and located in dedicated water front at Abu Dhabi’s deep water Port Zayed. The quay is 430 metres long and is also available for afloat repair services. It has 12,000 square metres of area for containerized workshops.

In addition, ADSB owns two subsidiary companies. Frontiers, a wholly owned subsidiary of ADSB, is a specialized service provider for combat systems and communication systems for naval and military ships. The services offered include: system integration, project management, procurement, integrated logistics and training.  SAFWA Marine, a wholly owned subsidiary of ADSB, offers specialized services to the niche market of Super-Yachts for commercial and technical management, repairs and maintenance.

Do you have the room to stock pile?

Yes, we have a reasonable area to stockpile equipment and material.

Does this impact on the size of vessels you build and repair?

Yes, larger the vessel, the larger the area required to store the equipment and material.

What type of vessels do you build – repair?

ADSB has a Naval Ship Construction program focusing on equipment procurement, program management, weapons installation, integration and vessel testing and trials. In addition, the company build small boat military construction projects, mainly in steel, aluminium alloy and composite materials.

ADSB is currently leading the region’s largest ever naval shipbuilding programme to construct six Baynunah class corvettes for the UAE Navy, and the company has the largest ship building facility in the GCC.

ADSB floating dock operations at the Mina Zayed facility are in full swing since it’s commencement in July 2016. To-date four vessels have completed dry docking on the floating dock.

What lead times do you work to? Is it a challenge to meet lead times?

The lead time varies from project to project. Project management is key to ensure lead times are met.

What is the split in business between new ships and repair/maintenance?

Currently the split between new building and services (ship repair & maintenance) is around 70% and 30%, respectively. Our strategy is to see the split become 50/50 over the next five years.

Who and where are your main customers?

In the past, ADSB was mainly focused on building naval ships to support the UAE Armed Forces; however, the company is currently aiming to step on a new direction.

The management has agreed on a new strategy targeting the commercial aspects of the industry. The aim is to expand on ADSB commercial services, especially in building commercial boats. ADSB’s new floating dock is a great example of this diversification. It is a new milestone for the company in commercial as well as navy services.

From focusing primarily on high-tech military ship construction and the repair and refit of UAE Navy vessels, the company has broadened its capacity to embrace the commercial shipping and offshore sectors and has introduced new facilities specifically to cater to this new customer base.

What role does IT play in day-to-day operations?

ADSB, along with its business partners, has recently developed a new generation software system for enterprise resource planning that integrates all business functions to provide a significant advantage to support the business operations such as: real time transactions of all functions and employee self-services to automate and minimize the resources consumed in processing business activities.

In addition, the company is undergoing a major IT infrastructure refresh program to facilitate the core business application in terms of the speed of data transfer and the availability of information resources across the premises to increase the efficiency and to reduce the operational costs.

How many employees are there and what percentage would be from Abu Dhabi as opposed to ex-pats? How is training carried out and what facilities do you have for this?

ADSB has launched a training and development program which will prepare young Emiratis for careers in the ship building and repairing industry.

There are currently 40 trainees enrolled in the first class of the technician development program which provides young Emirati talent with the skills to become professional mechanical and electrical technicians. It includes both technical English and technical development skills.

Trainees will receive 1,120 hours of theoretical and practical training over nine months through higher colleges of technology. Trainees will be evaluated using their performance scores and aptitudes to determine who takes mechanical and who takes electrical. The assignments must be completed successfully to reach the target position “independent stage”.

In line with the government’s vision of fostering Emirati talent, ADSB is committed to developing ship building and technical capabilities in the UAE. The new training program offers an exciting career path for Emirati youth within an industry that is contributing to the wider economic development of Abu Dhabi

How do you manage supply chain and quality control systems and how much of the supply chain is from overseas?

Supply Chain plays an integral role at ADSB and provides a strong competitive advantage in delivering cost-effective value added services to customers. ADSB’s OEMs and key suppliers go through a rigorous selection process to ensure the company partners with only the very best as delivering quality excellence represents ADSB’s unique market positing and gives the company a competitive advantage.  OEMs and key suppliers represent world class brands from all over the world and ADSB’s partnership with them exemplifies the brand across the GCC and region.

What have been the main highlights / headlines at Abu Dhabi Ship Building over the past 12-18 months?

The past year has seen many exciting developments for ADSB including the commissioning of the company’s first floating dock in July 2016, participating at the Industrial Linkages Forum, and the long term agreement that was signed with Abu Dhabi Ports that will greatly increase the country’s ship maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities.

Have you made any major investments in the past 18 months? If so, what in and why?

Investment in Floating Dock:

ADSB has taken a strategic decision to increase the capacity to drydock and repair larger vessels. Therefore, the company set up a new facility in Abu Dhabi with a floating dock that can drydock vessels up to 10,000 tons and maximum length of 180 metres, as of now, which will be the largest drydocking facility in Abu Dhabi. It is a significant increase in mobility and lift within the port, allowing drydock repairs to be carried out on ships of up to 180 metres length. Prior to this upgrade, Abu Dhabi Ship Building’s syncrolift facility in Mussafah could only lift vessels of up to 2,500 tons.

Having made the arduous 45-day journey from Turkey, the floating dock was officially commissioned in July. The Bourbon Liberty 108 – an offshore supply vessel owned by Bourbon Offshore – was the first to make use of its versatility, and has already undergone routine drydock work. Other facilities available to the customer base include a modern workshop capable of undertaking, structural steel, mechanical, pipe and electrical, repairs, and maintenance work. The new floating dock commenced operations and services since first week of July 2016 and at this moment fully occupied with three vessels undergoing major repairs.

This floating dry dock gives ADSB new commercial firepower, as the docking facility is the largest in Abu Dhabi. The combination of the new floating dry dock and the newly acquired quay space at Port Zayed, 35km north-west of its Mussafah headquarters, significantly upgrades ADSB’s service capability. The floating dock will be serviced by a new workshop space quay side to compliment the steel and aluminium fabrication facility, mechanical and electrical services, pipe work capabilities and blasting, painting and hull treatment operations at Mussafah.

Investment in NSS Programme: 

To cope with the requirements of the UAE Navy, the strategic partner of ADSB, the company has started the implementation of the Naval Support Services (NSS) programme.

The NSS team was initially formed  with the key resources and expertise available in ADSB to deliver the immediate goals in the advancement of the UAE Navy and the ADSB. Thereafter the team has been expanded progressively through recruitment drives locally and globally. Till date NSS team has successfully delivered more than 1,000,000 Man-hours of Maintenance Support to the UAE Navy which includes the planning and execution of Preventive and Corrective Maintenance.

Another area of significant investment made by ADSB for this program is in the development of the Skill and Competency of the available resources. Several Training programs were conducted as a part of the Continuous Improvement Initiatives for the NSS Team and on the job trainings were conducted for the UAE Navy personnel to improve their understanding of the current Naval Maintenance Concepts and its relevance.

Investment in other areas:

Beyond equipment and facilities, ADSB invests heavily in human capital, and provides regular training to workforce to increase their skills and make them capable to handle sophisticated projects efficiently. ADSB management is also focused in supporting the  Emiratization plan of the UAE government, by training Emirati nationals to undertake future challenges and is proud to say that most of the major projects at ADSB are managed by Emirati nationals.

What is the future for the Abu Dhabi Ship Building?

In regards to ship building, ADSB has plans to expand the new building market share in the region by working with the naval forces for various GCC countries. We are building three landing craft and five Sea Keepers for the Kuwait Navy.

ADSB also has plans to expand the regional and international market share of drydocking, repair and maintenance work by looking at diversifying to service to the oil & gas Industry.

Representing OEMs and adding value to the services provided to customers

The company is also focused on developing and implementing effective training and professional development programs in shipyard techno-commercial management for UAE nationals, in collaboration with training institutions and educational authorities.