Certainty is a scarce good in a continuously changing world. The speed with which new developments arise, seems to imply that knowledge is rapidly built from scratch. We seem to forget that it takes decades to build a sustainable industry.
The long history and diversity of the maritime industry contributes to its international standing; the knowledge institutes, suppliers, contractors and engineering firms together form a strong chain. Especially when faced with so many changes, it is of great interest to thrive on skills that have been there for quite some time.
The complex maritime projects of the near future – whether it concerns accessible waterways and ports or providing households with affordable wind energy – ask for industry players that are capable to do the job. Cooperation focused on combining expertise and knowledge is key.
Designing and building dredging vessels and equipment has long been the corner stone of Royal IHC. Over the last years the offshore sector gained relevance and marine mining became a market of its own. Now, being confronted with worldwide issues in the field of water and energy, we have a chance to reassess our own role. That includes new ways of working together with well known partners and taking on board new technology. Recent examples of new projects are smart maintenance and 3D printing.
Embracing new technologies enables the maritime industry to find solutions for difficult puzzles. To name a few: coping with the limited surface of the North Sea, cleaning up sea floors to make room for new installations and reducing emissions of NOx and SOx to levels that were unthinkable a few years ago. The combination between a strong knowledge base on one hand and creativity on the other hand helps the maritime industry face international competition. End of story?
Not quite. It takes two to tango. Seizing opportunities can only be done with a government that supports its key industries by opening doors with export facilities. A government that understands that regulation is not a national matter but affects the position of companies worldwide. A government that enables the industry to come up with innovative solutions to tackle environmental issues.
In a country where water is always on the agenda, it is easy to lose the characteristics and added value of the maritime industry out of sight. However, the broadness of the Dutch water sector is unique because of the various elements. A water policy that takes the maritime skills and knowledge into account, gives room for innovation and sees strengthening our export position as one of the main goals is the key to future successful international stories.
Marjolein van Noort
Royal IHC, Manager External Relations
This article was previously published in Maritime Holland edition #4 – 2016.