Ampelmann’s Offshore Training Programs of the Future

27 November 2023

In an ever-evolving industry landscape, the significance of Ampelmann’s training programs cannot be understated. They serve as the vital bridge, allowing fresh talent to seamlessly integrate into a highly proficient workforce and Ampelmann recognizes the paramount importance of this transition. In this interview, Rob Willemse, Continuous Improvement Manager, sheds light on Ampelmann's pivotal role in ensuring the availability of the right talent, in the right place, and at the right time within the dynamic Offshore industry.

Ampelmann Operations B.V. (Ampelmann) is a Dutch company that was founded in 2007. The company develops, manufactures, sells and leases motion compensated systems for offshore access. The Ampelmann system is a stabilized platform that allows personnel to safely transfer between a moving vessel and an offshore structure. Today, Ampelmann is the global leader in Walk to Work solutions by operating motion compensated offshore access systems and services all over the world, and according to Rob, there is never a dull moment in the company’s bid to ensure they provide the best services.

Rob’s personal journey also mirrors what Ampelmann wants to achieve with their professionals – a transition into a career that fits their skills and mindset. “My professional life has been a bit of an odd journey. I started my career in the military, but after a few years, I decided to pursue a degree in either business or engineering – in the end I decided to go for a Business Administration program, but I always had a serious interest in engineering, and that is why Ampelmann is an amazing place for me to be. It is the best of both worlds,” Rob adds with a smile. 

The Manta Ray

Rob is part of the continuous improvement program, called Manta Ray, within Ampelmann. Promptly named after the manta rays that scour the ocean floor to tidy the place up, the program also aims to identify and fix avenues that can be improved within the company itself: “Manta Ray is something we are proud of, and we also like the name – we are big on codenames in Ampelmann. With Manta Ray, we are able to focus on delivering the best possible result as a company by focusing on how we do things. We tackle the big bottlenecks of our company’s performance and together with the teams figure out how to improve them. This includes identifying root causes, solving problems, running improvement projects, and implementing new processes, thus improving overall efficiency. By doing so, we avoid just blindly adding people to improve the output and performance when things get tough – we aim to make things work better.”

These days, Rob and the team are focused on a significant challenge: robust growth. “Right now, we're facing an exciting challenge – our rapid growth has led to a shortage of operators. There is a lot of demand for the solutions we provide, and our dedicated training team has done everything they can with their motivated and competent members, but the market just kept growing! So, I was tasked with organizing a solution because our current processes couldn't keep up. That is why we revamped our Operator Training process provided by Walk 2 Work Academy – our unique training program – by leveraging our existing resources to create a faster and more efficient way to provide what Professionals need. Now, we've proven the concept and transformed the program into a well-oiled training machine. This reduction in training time has been remarkable: we can now have a fully trained operator in just 8 weeks instead of 8 months.” 

Ensuring Sustainable Access to Talent

Of course, not every challenge is of operational nature, as there are sustainability, planning and legal avenues one has to consider as well, with one of the most significant ones being the demand to have local talent involved: “Working with local talent becomes increasingly important for two simple reasons: meeting legal requirements for local content and ensuring sustainable growth in the countries where we operate,” Rob mentions. “Sure, it is easier for us to introduce international talent to a new country, but most countries want to have professionals who can pick up these skills and operate on an individual basis. We also would enjoy having access to local professionals with previous experience. So, while it indeed requires quite a bit of an effort to set things up in the beginning, focusing on local talent is really beneficial for us and the communities we work in too in the long run.”

Rob also gives an example where emphasis on local talent is becoming increasingly important: "Recently, we have seen this in the United States, and that is where our cooperation with Atlas Professionals came into play. We know your US expansion aligned with ours, and you have a dynamic, active team in the US that wants to show what Atlas Professionals can do," Rob adds with a smile. "We have a similar mindset, and we too are trying to understand the Jones Act and collaborate with the USCG (United States Coastal Guard), where you have to move forward with American professionals especially in the east coast region. It is great to be working with the dynamic Atlas Professionals team who have the same mindset as ours and can support our operations locally in many regions such as Latvia, the Netherlands and more by pointing the way for local talent and offering tax, insurance and legal support when needed."

All in all, Rob is looking forward to ensuring the developments of today can lead to better results tomorrow: "We hope to revamp and rebuild our training modules and Walk 2 Work Academy to sustain this accelerated pace so we can always secure the best solution for our industries.” 

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