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Safety and service

Portrait

Rudi Roegiers, Head of Sales Survitec Group Benelux, is committed to improving safety at sea. The former Navy man turned IT professional has found his ideal role leading the sales department of the Benelux division.

This branch employs 45 people and has over twelve million EUR annual turnover. Like the rest of the Survitec Group, the Benelux business offers a wide range of products and services to its customers. This includes the production and maintenance of liferafts, lifejackets, general purpose rescue suits, not to mention the 30,000 aviation suits worn by F16 and F35 pilots.

“The Group also produces and services 1,000 customised rescue suits for the Dutch KNRM and 10,000 life jackets for the UK rescue services every year,” comments Mr. Roegiers. Survitec Group also places a heavy emphasis on the continued development of its marine evacuation systems (MES).

Currently, the Group’s range includes MES capable of evacuating as few as six and as many as 3,000 people in an emergency. The systems are installed on commercial ships, passenger ships and offshore oil rigs. “We can evacuate 250 people in less than half an hour,” states Mr. Roegiers.

While manufacture is a large part of the company’s offering, Survitec is also focused on service. The Group’s worldwide service station network is set up to service life rafts, inspect lifeboats and carry out fire safety checks on board vessels. The proper servicing of equipment is critical to maintaining safety standards but it can be a challenge in today’s fast moving shipping industry.

“We are confronted with difficult circumstances to do our job. Antwerp and Rotterdam are very fast ports. At times ships are in the harbour for only six hours, unloading and loading. Our window of opportunity is very small,” says Mr. Roegiers.

This short service window is one of the reasons the company developed its 30-month Extended Service Raft (ESR). These life rafts only need to be checked every 30 months because they are equipped with technology that allows a ship’s crew to monitor the condition of the equipment between services, in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) guidelines (IMO MSC.1/Circ.1328).

“We rent them out on an exchange basis, so we can just swap out the expired rafts with new or inspected ones. It is a huge relief logistically,” adds Mr. Roegiers.

Survitec has a network of 580 distributors and service stations. This ensures worldwide coverage for the Group’s clients and a fast response time should problems arise. The Benelux stations focus on commercial shipping fleets and offshore business, such as oil rigs and wind mill farms.

In Antwerp, the focus remains mainly on service, while in the Netherlands (Rotterdam), the majority of the focus is more on the combination of new products sales and service.

The Benelux offices are comprised mostly of engineers and service technicians with a small sales and marketing team. Three members of the 6-strong team actively go out and visit clients, Mr. Roegiers included. The three remaining team members stay in the office and work on sending out quotes to existing and potential clients.

“A small team makes us very flexible. If we are asked to do something in the morning, we have to answer by the evening or else we miss the opportunity,” explains Mr. Roegiers. Survitec Group’s competitive advantage lies in its flexibility and capability to operate 24/7.

“We have well-trained employees with a ‘yes, I can’ attitude,” says Mr. Roegiers. “Innovation is also very important to us. Our name Survitec, which is derived from ‘Survival Technology’ says it all.

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