Thousands of people from all over the world generously handed out their business cards as they were walking around Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore, meeting fellow people from the maritime industry who were gathered to make new contacts and promote their maritime business.
In the last week of April all things maritime was in focus as Singapore held their yearly Maritime Week, which this year included the three day event from 25 to 27 April 2017, Sea Asia.
Sea Asia is the premier maritime and offshore conference and exhibition in Asia, this year being the 6th edition. Co-organised by Seatrade and the Singapore Maritime Foundation, Sea Asia is well-attended by trade professionals and some of the most influential and respected leaders in the industry, delivering an unparalleled reach of key decision-makers.
This year’s exhibition welcomed more than 16000 visitors to check out the more than 420 exhibitors with exhibitions spread over two floors at Marina Bay Sands. The exhibitions also included 10 country pavilions, which both Norway and Denmark were among, bringing local companies to share their products and knowledge.
The Danish pavilion happily offered visitors Danish beer and chocolates brought from Denmark. They also had a competition with a Maersk LEGO container ship as price.
Danish Marine Group, from Danish Export Association, were behind the competition and handing out beer, trying to create a focus on the Danish companies present. This is their first time at Sea Asia, but Mark Lerche, Head of Danish Marine Group, says that they usually have a Danish pavilion at Asia Pacific Maritime, another maritime exhibition and trade fair held every other year in Singapore. Since that has been such as success for the Danish maritime business, they have made the decision to also be a part of Sea Asia.
“Singapore is one of the biggest shipping ports, that is why it is important for us to come here,” says Lerche.
Either because of it being the first time for the Danish pavilion at Sea Asia, or because they are not being supported by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs this year, there were only a small amount of Danish companies at the exhibition. The companies present, BAY Valves, Den-Jet Marine, Iver C. Weilbach & Co.,Logimatic A/S and Sertica Seasolutions, had chosen to fund the pavilion themselves.
Logimatic, a company with more than 30 years of experience with maritime and industrial customers, were one of the companies from Denmark who had made their way to Singapore. Their product Sertica, is a flexible software solution for maintenance, performance, procurement and HSQE to streamline your workflows and reduce total cost of ownership.
Hans Chr. Jensen, Head of Sales at Logimatic, was one of Logimatic’s representatives at the Danish Pavilion. For him, there is no question on whether they should be present at Sea Asia in Singapore or not.
“There are only a limited number of customers in Denmark. Singapore opens up for a big market, and many things can unfold from here. The networking is essential,” he said.
Leif Nielsen, Managing Director at SeaSolutions, provider of specialized and sophisticated high end IT solutions for the maritime industry, agrees that although not getting the same support as usual, Sea Asia is important for business.
“It is hard to tell if these things are a success. Many of the success takes time. In a year or two, someone might need our product, and then they’ll need to know about us. Maybe then, they’ll remember meeting us here,” he said.
Visiting Norway’s pavilion, it is not unusual to be offered a nice drink of Norwegian aquavit served in a plastic cup first thing. With the air condition being on full blast at the convention center, it can be tempting to have a drink to heat you up.
Besides aquavit, you could also find six Norwegian companies at the pavilion at Sea Asia; Auto-Maskin, Autronica Fire & Security, Navtor, Saint-Gobain Weber, Ulstein and Vard.
The drop in oil prices has affected many Norwegian business, and challenged some of them to come up with new ideas and strategies.
Ulstein designs and builds offshore ships for customers worldwide, and provides technical support and consultancy. The Norwegian family owned company is celebrating their 100 years jubilee this year, and is focusing more and more and building cruise ships, but also wind farm support vessels.
Since renewable energy is a constantly growing interest all around the world, Gunnar Haug, Managing Director at Ulstein, believes that wind farm support vessels will continue being a focus point for Ulstein in the future.
“Wind farms, renewable energy, are coming up as a new market, not only in the North Sea, but we also see this market growing in Asia. There will be lots of wind turbines installed on the ocean, and these vessels will support the windfarms in terms of maintenance. So I think that’s a really growing market. We have also recently developed a jack up vessel that is meant for installation of wind turbines,” said Haug.
Some Norwegian companies, who because of economical reason had chosen not to be a part of the Norwegian Pavilion at Sea Asia, still came around to visit the pavilion for an opportunity to show that they are still in the game.
One of them was Roger Kristensen, CEO of Restech Norway, who manufactures and distributes pneumatic line throwers world wide. Restech’s line throwers do not use gunpowder or any form of explosives and all of the parts are reusable, making them ideal for daily operations at sea or land.
“Our company is not exhibiting this year. We have experienced some hard times due to the drop in oil prices, but we are still here, and that is what I am here today to show,” said Kristensen.
Norway also had a rather young company with them. Only just established in 2011, Navtor has quickly expanded with 20 offices around the world and supplying to 50 countries, Singapore being the first country the company expanded to.
The young company provides solutions for e-navigation, with the goal to simplify tasks, increase efficiency and improve operations to make life easier and safer, clearer and more efficient for navigators and shipowners.
Andreas Gundersen, Marketing Coordinator at Navtor, believes that being younger than most of the other companies in the field, Navtor has an advantage.
“Our specialty is the digital product. We are fully committed to using the digital technology, because we do not have to protect revenue from other products from before the digital age,” he explains.
A company that is far from young is Iver C. Weilbach & Co., or just Weilbach, which started out by selling sails and compasses in Copenhagen in 1755, and have been in the maritime business for 262 years.
Today, Weilbach is selling digital solutions for safe planning and navigation, such as Nautical charts and publications. Martin N. Mikkelsen, Director of Business Development at Weilbach, was the man who started the first Weilbach office in Singapore.
“Many Danish shipowners, which we were working with in Denmark opened offices in Singapore, and then it was a natural decision for us to come here and also offer the same service to the companies here as in Denmark,” says Mikkelsen.
He explains that one thing that for Weilbach is very attractive about Singapore is the many Singaporean shipowners who are focusing on high quality shipping, which is exactly what Weilbach’s products are made for.
“Compared to other solutions, ours might not be the cheapest, but it is very high quality,” he says.
Although Denmark and Norway stood out with their country pavilions at Sea Asia, there were not many other companies from Nordic companies present.
Jukka-Pekka Hakkarainen is representing the only Finnish company who is part of the exhibition. He is Export Manager for Champion Door that produces tailor made hangar doors and large industrial doors.
This is also the first time for Champion Door at Sea Asia. Previously, the company has focused mostly the aviation doors and have been exhibiting in Changi airport in Singapore where they have made good contacts in the Asian market and have provided doors for airports in Seoul and Ho Chi Minh City.
“Shipyards is one of our segments that is getting more and more important. We see a lot of potential in the Asian markets,” says Hakkarainen.