Damen Marine Components (DMC), the oldest company in Damen Shipyards Group, celebrates its 150th anniversary on the 7th of October. DMC has grown from a very small shipyard established in Gorinchem in 1865, to become the largest nozzle builder in the world.
Via a live satellite link, around a 1,000 customers, employees, suppliers and colleagues, at its three main locations in Hardinxveld (the Netherlands), Jiangyin (China) and Gdańsk (Poland), will toast this historic occasion simultaneously.
Although DMC’s own roots were established in 1865 when Jan van de Giessen set up a business from a small wharf in the ‘Kalkhaven’, the history of shipbuilding in the area actually dates back to the 14th century. DMC itself was officially founded 10 years ago, when two Damen Group members were merged – Van de Giessen and Gdansk Engineering Works. GEW was actually the first company Damen Shipyards ever acquired outside of the Netherlands.
Looking back over the years, DMC Managing Director, Steef Staal told the audience how, above all, he believes DMC’s success is because it ‘has become a partner to its clients, rather than just a supplier’. “We help our clients and work together with them.”
Quality is paramount, he emphasises, both in terms of our products and in delivery times. “We have built up close relationships with our customers by delivering reliable quality.” He points out that DMC partners are mainly leading OEMs.
Just in the last decade alone, DMC has nearly tripled its turnover to €36m and this has been possible due to Damen Shipyards’ willingness to invest in cutting-edge equipment and innovative production processes.
DMC has three large spinning machines, which are able to manufacture nozzles up 7.5 m in diameter. “Perhaps there is another builder out there able to make these spectacular nozzles but I am not aware of it!” He adds that it is not just about the spinning machines alone but crucially, the novel manufacturing technique deployed, which means that nozzles are made with only a single weld on the inner side.
As well as the vast range of top quality nozzles and rudders, DMC also manufactures shipbuilding constructions such as tailor-made stern sections for thrusters, crane foundations and crane arms.
And only recently, it added the production of winches to its portfolio. Rudders are already manufactured through sister company Van der Velden Marine Systems and winches too, have been in introduced through its new company ‘Damen Winch Technology’. Currently, Damen Shipyards is the main client for the towing winches for ASD Tugs.
Following on from the celebrations surrounding the 150th anniversary, DMC is also set to celebrate again, as it opens a second major production site in China in Jiangyin on November 27.
Damen has built this new production plant from scratch. At 11,000 sq m, the facility is nearly double its existing site at Suzhou. The facility will have its own spinning machine and state-of-the-art equipment including grinding and sanding robots and will see employee numbers grow to 120. The facility services Asia and the Middle East and US west coast.
Perry Rikkers, General Manager, Damen Marine Components Suzhou, says: “A decade ago DMC was pioneering in setting up in China. And although the Chinese economy has dipped slightly, there is still a lot happening here and the market is more willing to seek out quality components. We have brought the Damen standards here and clients realise that paying for quality in the longer term saves money when considering the total cost of ownership.
“And as an employer in China, I would also like to stress that nearly all of our people have been with us from the early days. Damen takes care of our employees so we don’t see the rapid turnover of staff other companies do.”
Aart Vogelaar, General manager, Damen Marine Components Jiangyin Co., Ltd, comments: “At Suzhou we could not expand anymore so we decided to seek out another production plant. Jiangyin gives us expansion possibilities and it is also very close to our major customers, which have facilities in this area. This makes it very cost effective as we can deliver right on their doorstep.
“The new site will of course, be the usual Damen high quality and have quick delivery times. The new facility also allows us to broaden our offering with other products such as winches and thruster tunnels.
“Just as we did 10 years ago, Damen has again invested millions in China. This is not the easiest time here and I think this move shows the courage of Damen and how it takes the long-term view.”
China is not the only Damen location seeing substantial investments. Sławomir Gieroń, Managing Director, Damen Marine Components Gdańsk, explains that he has seen the original former GEW plant expand and modernise over the decades. Damen Marine Components Gdańsk now stands at 11,120 sq m. Three years ago Gdańsk was joined by another 6,000 sq m facility in Elblag, Poland, due to increasing demand for heavier constructions such as offshore cranes, large thruster tunnels and huge rudders.
Over the next few years, the Gdańsk site is also set to see a further 4,000 sq m added. In October, another, larger spinning machine is set to be operational. DMC Gdańsk already has a spinning machine able to manufacture nozzles of a diameter of 4.3 m, but the new one can handle nozzles up to 7.5 m. “Based on numerical data, we can programme any shape or profile required. Clients have found that such quality nozzles are not possible through traditional building methods. This is unique technology and I think it is reflective of Damen – the best ideas to get the quality required and the best technical solution.”
Steef concludes: “Jiangyin and the new, larger spinning machine in Gdańsk are just some of the latest investments of Damen, but DMC is continuously developing new equipment and fine-tuning its production methods. We continually aim to lower the number of labour hours and make processes as efficient as possible. We are making sure we are ready for the future.
“In the meantime on this very special occasion, I would like to thank all our customers, suppliers, partners and all our other relations for their cooperation, loyalty, faith and adherence during all these years. Without the fantastic colleagues in Jiangyin and Suzhou, Gdansk and Elblag and of course, Hardinxveld and Gorinchem, life would be dull and DMC unknown to you all. They are the spirit of our company. Together with our customers and suppliers we form one big Damen family!”