External service people “oils” the wheels at Aker Stord

At Aker Stord the world’s largest and most advanced drilling rig designed for extreme climatic conditions is built. Scaffolding, riggers, flagmen, rope access personnel and truck drivers from StS contribute to efficient logistics management.

“Flags and rigs are surface disciplines that have gained new status in recent years. Comprehensive training of employees, in accordance with new certification requirements, has helped to strengthen the demand for personnel with this unique expertise. StS now consider different sponsorship schemes, in the hope that more young people will find the professions attractive. ” -Trond Vestby, Project Manager StS.

At Aker Stord (AKST) there is a hectic activity. Before the summer is over, the drilling rig “Aker Spitsbergen” will be prepared for extreme missions in Arctic with sea depths down to 3,000 meters.

The hulls are 120 meters long and comes from Dubai. The topsides and living quarters with 150 single cabins are each built on Stord. The assembly and completion of the two rigs are among the biggest and most demanding jobs ever done by AKST, according to project manager Jan-Tore Elverhaug.

‘Aker Spitsbergen’ is the first rig of the type Aker H-5e, built on behalf of Aker Drilling.1 May it is joined at the dock by the ‘Aker Barents’ twin rig. A large part of the total contract value of NOK 7.5 billion is attributable to the business community in the region in the form of supplies of goods and services. Together with the construction of StatoilHydro’s semi-submersible “Gjøa” platform, the assignments for Aker Drilling provide a new and hectic age of activity in Sunnhordland.

New competition situation

-To carry out the assignments according to deadline, AKST has hired 1,700 people in addition to the 1,170 permanent employees throughout the autumn and winter. More than every fourth hired person belongs to the group “service personnel”, says resource coordinator Kjersti Fjeldsbø in AKST.

Information materials in four languages; Norwegian, English, Russian and Polish witnesses of an international cooperation project. Neither StS nor competing Norwegian suppliers have enough capacity to meet the need for this kind of expertise.

-A new competitive situation, says project manager Trond Vestby in the StS. The company has long traditions as the main supplier and partner of Aker Kværner Stord in terms of services.

-If StS or another supplier had been large enough for us to have assessed a partner for this type of mission, it would have represented a clear simplification of our logistics,” says Co-Ordinator for the two rigs, Rune Slettemark at AKST.

StS is the largest single supplier

“Service personnel” in the shipbuilding industry include professions such as scaffolding, riggers, flagmen and truck drivers – subjects that form the cornerstones of StS’s business. During the construction of ‘Aker Spitsbergen’, the Bergen based company is the largest single supplier of this type of service. More than 130 people with STS on the back of their coveralls have this spring worked shifts at AKST.

“Service people oil the system, says Slettemark.”

StS delivers well-qualified personnel who work safely and well, he continues, praising the long-standing cooperation with StS and the way the company has handled various assignments.

“Suppliers like StS are very important partners, AKST should be able to provide sufficient personnel with the right expertise at the right time. StS has shown that they are good at seeing our needs and suggesting solutions. They have also shown great willingness to be proactive and seek information so that they meet well prepared, adds Fjeldsbø. ”

A discipline with new status

The agreement with StS includes as many as 30 flagmen, and more than twice as many riggers. It is relatively rare that so many flagmen are required for a single project.

-The flagmen are important for fast material handling. A limited outdoor area on the yard increases the requirements. The building elements must be lifted in place or cleared away as soon as they arrive, they can`t fill up the dock area. If the parts are to be stored in storage, they must be able to be found as soon as the need indicates, without the staff having to waste valuable time searching, says Slettemark.

Flagmen and riggers are occupational groups that have gained new status in recent years. Comprehensive training of employees, in accordance with new certification requirements, has helped to strengthen the demand for personnel with this unique expertise. StS is now considering various sponsorship schemes, hoping that more young people will find the professions attractive.

The StS team

Scaffolders, rope access personnel and forklift operators make up the rest of the StS team. Everybody plays important roles during the construction of the giant puzzle, which together will make ‘Aker Spitsbergen’.

The tight schedule of AKST entails long days for the StS employees.

-The transition to 12 – 15 rotation for transport people gave noticeable impact on the mood. Now they are looking forward to spending at least one weekend at home. We also see a change regarding recruitment. It has become much easier to employ people now, says Vestby. What we need to keep in mind is that there are people in the workshops and out in the field of practice that do the physical job. We do what we can to make them feel comfortable and feel welcome, says Kjersti Fjeldsbø.

To facilitate the process, StS has also established a system of permanent information meetings with employees who meet for shifts. Here they will get information about notable events since last shift and other conditions they should be prepared to deal with.

Ready for “Gjøa”

To handle the assignment to AKST during the assembly of ‘Aker Spitsbergen’, StS has made use of all subsidiaries. 30 of the members of the StS team are from the UK subsidiary.

-The mission has been an ordeal for StS’s UK department. So far, they’ve done a good job, says Vestby.

The overlap between ‘Aker Spitsbergen’, ‘Aker Barents’ and ‘Gjøa’ will probably only increase the need for service personnel at AKST during the spring and summer.

-We are prepared to increase the crew at Stord, as the need indicates, says Vestby. He envisions that the StS Group has a stable staff of around 150 people at Stord towards the turn of the year.