Drydocks World Dubai’s chief executive tells CST how the company is diversifying – and unveils its long-term strategic plan, reports Riviera.
Drydocks World Dubai
Drydocks World Dubai has turned a corner since it was acquired by DP World five years ago – with the implementation of a long-term strategic plan that is crucial to its future.
Drydocks World Dubai chief executive Captain Rado Antolovic was appointed to restructure the company. His exposure to the marine industry began at an early age, as his father was a Vice Admiral for the Yugoslav Navy.
Capt Antolovic was well equipped to restructure Drydocks World Dubai: he joined DP World in 2005 as chief executive of ACT Hong Kong, where he was responsible for developing the business in the region to ensure business continuity during the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. In 2013, he became managing director of P&O Maritime, where he successfully turned around the company by securing numerous long-term contracts and substantially improving the reliability of vessels’ operations and engineering.
Explaining how he faced the challenge of turning Drydocks World Dubai around, Capt Antolovic tells CST, “The first part of the restructure was to understand the business in all its elements, including structural, commercial, equipment, market, sustainability and technology.”
On the back of this, the company created a master plan for the next 30 years which has five pillars which are being implemented.
Capt Antolovic says, “My main objective is to ensure all five pillars are fully delivered and provide a return on investment to our shareholders.”
He explains the background, “The shipyard was not functioning well when we took it over, it had serious financial issues. We have turned a corner and managed to build a long-term strategy and profitability. We have adapted to market needs, introduced new technologies, upgraded our structure, and were able to prove to the industry that even during Covid-19, we did not stop for one hour, we had operations going 24/7.”
He lays out the strategic pillars, “We needed to understand what we needed to do to grow the business going forward – what kind of infrastructure we needed. This forms one of our pillars – we have a substantially improved capex to invest and we are ordering equipment and technologies which are environmentally friendly, and which will help us meet 2050 zero-emissions targets.”
Other pillars include business transformation: successfully implementing a platform for finance and a new operating management platform.
Another pillar is how to grow globally, and to this end, Drydocks World Dubai opened Adriatic42 – a joint venture company with PM Holdings, an investment corporation of Dubai company, in November last year. The government of Montenegro granted a 30-year concession for the former Bijela shipyard and under Adriatic42, it has been transformed into a superyacht refit and maintenance facility.
Regarding global growth, Capt Antolovic says, “We are selective and not in a rush, although there are several projects that we are looking at.”
Underpinning the five pillars are the company’s people. “Our people are critical, and we want to retain them, have the highest safety record and train them in new technologies, especially as these are becoming more and more complex,” says Capt Antolovic.
As part of its strategic plan, Drydocks World Dubai is growing its capacity on the same footprint. Capt Antolovic expands, “For the last two years, we have been 100% occupied, and have been growing our capacity on the same footprint.”
The shipyard currently manages 300 projects annually but plans to boost this by 20%. Its current man hours are 24M and the goal is to increase this to 30M.
As part of this focus, Drydocks World Dubai is installing robotic systems in the south part of the yard. These will provide the frames on designs, paint and align pipes without losing manpower.
About the services
The company provides services including repair, conversion and newbuild projects. Highlighting the growing importance of its clients’ sustainability commitments, Capt Antolovic says Drydocks World has seen a substantial uptick in requests for FSO and FPSO conversions and upgrades in the past year. This year, the drydocks will be tackling conversions and upgrades for about 20 offshore rigs, converting tankers to FPSO units, and retrofitting and upgrading vessels with various sustainable technologies.
He singles out major container ship clients including Hapag-Lloyd, one of its biggest customers, as well as MSC and NYK.
Capt Antolovic comments, “We have diversified to be more adaptable. That has brought on board more new technology requirements for different types of vessels.”
Indeed, major repair work focuses include scrubber installations (the company can fit any scrubber and has installed 60/70) and ballast water treatment tank installations. Recent work includes changing or upgrading from standard propulsion to LNG, and repairing these vessels. Drydocks World Dubai is also changing vessels’ bulbs to be more energy efficient.
As part of its focus on new green and energy efficient technology, last year it signed a strategic agreement with Silverstream Technologies to promote the use of air lubrication technology for vessels that enter the shipyard, sharing knowledge on both the technical and commercial aspects of its installation procedures.
Air lubrication is an approved technology under the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for newbuilds, as well as the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) requirements, which come into effect in 2023.
Speaking about the use of alternative energy, Capt Antolovic opines, “I see a necessity to speed up and use new technology – it has never moved at such a fast pace as today. I see LNG, methanol and hydrogen being used going forward. Today, the technologies are there but are still evolving, although at a much faster pace than before.”
His final message is new and older generations must work together as business transformation happens faster than ever. “New generations adapt and learn; my generation must share knowledge and align with the new generation. It is very important the old and new generation work hand-in-hand. It is this that will produce results.”
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