Interview with André Kik: data for the future
Photo Credit: André Kik
The global dredging market value is rising. Previously at $10.33 billion in 2021, it is expected to reach $12.73 billion by 2029. This rise can be attributed to increasing urbanisation and the growing need for coastal defence structures. As a result, more dredging vessels and equipment are entering the market to cater to this international demand.
General information about vessels in this sector is at a premium and tracking its sheer range can be challenging, particularly if the information is spread across a variety of global shipyards and dredging companies. As a result, a central source of data on the dredging equipment, vessel owners, and shipyards, can be very valuable.
André Kik, a CEDA board member and contact point for dredging intelligence network Dredgepoint, discusses the necessity of a database of current and historical dredging equipment and vessels, with information about the companies that own them and the shipyards that built them. He brought to CEDA's attention an opportunity to purchase the database from Dredge Vision Consultants & Engineering, and on André’s suggestion, CEDA became the owner of Dredgepoint in November 2021. Since then, CEDA has built on its legacy to provide a hub of information for anyone in the dredging sector or with an interest in dredging equipment.
A group of volunteers manage the website, collecting publicly available information to share with users of the website. "We cannot share information that is confidential, and that is also not the point of Dredgepoint. The goal is to provide a brief overview of equipment operating in the industry," André comments. "CEDA members have the ability to complete an advanced search on the website, which provides more information about the equipment; however, it is all still publicly sourced data."
When discussing the goal of Dredgepoint, André notes that they want to improve access to information. He explains that they are taking steps to do this by adding publications from senior members and also some information available from universities to provide a wider source of dredging equipment and industry information. In contrast to the CEDA website, Dredgepoint is focused on dredge equipment.
One way information can be improved is through collaboration within the industry. André says, “sometimes shipyards or owners provide us with extra data or more up-to-date information, which is very helpful.” Another way is for volunteers to join the team. “We are always looking for volunteers, so if there are people who are interested in the market and want to provide information or wish to update the website, they are always welcome.” Those interested in volunteering can send an email to Dredgepoint or contact CEDA.
Innovative design tool
As someone with shipbuilding experience, André understands how beneficial a vessel and equipment database can be. "If you have a question about something new and you don’t know how to approach it, Dredgepoint offers an opportunity to find reference vessels and use that information as a starting point for research." He noted that a lot of people make use of this information. For instance, shipyards or design bureaus use the database to find information about existing vessels when developing or making new designs, while other organisations may use it for commercial purposes as it provides information about what kinds of fleet and equipment a ship owner uses.” This information can also be found on the website of the dredging companies, but there is no similar website to Dredgepoint where all data is collected and presented.
He offers an example, "I recently spoke to someone who was working on a new design. He wanted to know what kind of fleet the owner he was designing for already had. Some owners have a preference for submerged pumps, or they may have a preference for a certain vessel layout, which is typically reflected in the type of vessels they own. Through Dredgepoint, he could access this information and adapt the design proposal accordingly."
One of CEDA’s goals is to build a network of connections with different stakeholders in the dredging industry. To do this, information on Dredgepoint needs to be up-to-date, which requires André and his team of volunteers to keep an eagle eye on how the industry evolves.
"In the past, companies often competed, but there was also cooperation in research and development. The design of dredge equipment happened between dredging firms, shipbuilders and equipment suppliers. The large dredging firms had a strong input in the design of new groundbreaking equipment. Larger shipbuilding companies had a strong input in the implementation and integration of technology.”
”The knowledge of equipment and techniques gained in previous projects was used by the shipbuilders in new developments” André reflects. He points out, "This isn’t really the case now. Currently, the larger contractors tend to stick to themselves, which tends to be beneficial for those companies and dredging markets. However, this means knowledge and experience are no longer exchanged and developments tend to progress more slowly. Especially now developments are focussed on sustainability this is not a good development for the dredging sector as a whole”
In light of these changes in the industry, Dredgepoint is looking to update the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University report ‘The Dutch and Belgian Dredging Industry: An Exploration of the Future’. The report offers insight into trends and innovation in the Dutch-Belgian dredging sector.
André notes that “The first report was made 30 years ago. Since then, the report was updated once five years ago, and now we want to add another update because we believe the industry has changed enough to warrant it. We want to ensure that all recent industry developments are shared with relevant stakeholders.”
“We as an industry need to come together and discuss how we can holistically develop the market to ensure continuous innovation and knowledge sharing. By doing this, it allows us to develop a strategy that can globally help with new developments such as the energy transition," he says.
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