BoB stands for ‘SEA-Mate Blending-on-Board’ and is the brainchild of Maersk Fluid Technology. The core product is a small machine that can reduce the cost of lubricant for the Maersk fleet. Usage of this product has resulted in high vessel maintenance, fuel efficiency and a profitability.
BoB stands for ‘SEA-Mate Blending-on-Board’ promises the operational performance at a lower cost to the most commercial vessels, regardless of their size. It is a small machine and not an engineer, resulted from the innovation within the many business units. The need for this innovation initiated in the year 2005 with a market observation of Maersk Line. They were paying USD 60-80 million per year for the 45-55 million litres of engine lubricant for their fleet of 250 ships. But the quality of engine lubricant was inconsistent as it was procured from several manufacturers. Niels Henrik Lindegaard said, “We realised that we were dependent on this handful of good manufacturers and that the others had no interest in improving their product to make the market more cost competitive for buyers like us”.
Therefore, Maersk Oil Trading, Maersk Maritime Technology and Maersk Line decided to find a solution to this problem. They invested sufficient hours of research and testing for meeting the safety and operational requirements of the engine manufacturers. This research led to the innovation of BOB, which is the reflection of company’s long and difficult path to success and holds many valuable lessons for the Group. The research and testing of ‘BoB’ were slow by design but the rest of the process was not. As the viable product moved closer to production the important questions with respect to the governance of Maersk Fluid Technology, the intellectual property strategy, funding and other legal and tax related issues proved time-consuming to resolve. T he paperwork was lengthy along with the product trials and gave the costly lesson about the timing of patent filings.
Maersk Line became the first customer by ordering 21 units in 2007. But with the global economy crashing, Maersk Line had to cancel all non-business-critical projects. At that time, Jens Byrgesen joined as Managing Director and tried his level best to keep the company running with Technical Manager, Henrik Weimar, and the company’s former partner, Maersk Line. At the same time, a course of new tests highlighted the BoB’s other benefits. These benefits related to the reduced engine wear and improved fuel efficiency. This added significantly to the market value of the product and the overall value of the project in the process. Lindegaard said, “If we take the technical knowledge we gained from the journey we have been on with Maersk Fluid Technology, it is quite impressive; the process was not. With the innovation Board, good ideas will get the structure, funding and commitment they need if they are to succeed in creating results”.
After struggling for almost ten years, BoB is enjoying success with its other products. This is why more than 169 Maersk Line vessels have BoB on board and many external shipping lines have placed orders. “The last 12 months, or so, have been a commercial breakthrough for us, which has been exciting. It has been a long journey to get here”, says Jens Byrgesen, Managing Director of Maersk Fluid Technology. “Much of that time was necessary, of course, for the research and testing we conducted in collaboration with Maersk Line. But some of our growing pains can be instructive for similar ventures within Maersk”.