Bahrain-based Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard Company (Asry) this year added a major accolade to its strong reputation as the Arabian Gulf’s leading maritime and industrial optimisation yard by surpassing 10 million manhours without a lost time injury (LTI), a record achievement since its inception 45 years ago.
This milestone, which follows a modernisation drive across the company, is the result of a well-thought-out strategy to reinforce its commitment to health, safety and environment (HSE). This inclusive strategy demands that each employee as well as subcontractor personnel plays an active role in driving its HSE goals.
So what are some of the key aspects of this strategy?
In an exclusive interview with Gulf Construction, Asry’s Managing Director Mazen Matar elaborates on the company’s multi-pronged strategy.
“Continuous Safety Awareness Briefings known as Toolbox Talk were conducted across Asry and subcontractor personnel in order to raise awareness among employees with regard to safe work practices, machinery, tools, equipment, materials, attitude, or other topics that may cause or contribute to a work-related incident or illness. These briefings informed them of the control measures put in place to prevent work-related accidents and illness from recurring. Apart from the HSE team, production supervisors were also involved in the safety briefings, which also contributed to achieving this milestone,” Matar says.
“Asry has adopted the Observation Card System wherein all employees are encouraged to participate in improving the safety culture. All levels of leadership across Asry are responsible for implementation of the safety observation process, which all employees and contractors’ staff are obliged to support. Participating in this process is reflected in each department’s key performance indicators (KPIs), thus motivating employees.
“This apart, the work supervisor, HSE personnel, and workers are assigned to carry out Risk Assessment/Job Safety Analysis (JSA) to verify the suitability of the control measures recommended.
“Asry also actively monitors health and safety through proactive statistics like daily inspection of the project, workshop, lifting gear safety, sub-contractors workshop, environment, drills, housekeeping and fire safety,” he says.
Asry has established an Occupational Health & Safety Committee (OHSC), which aims to ensure maximum attention is given to the health, safety and well-being of employees and supply chain members. This committee meets at least once a month.
In addition, the company maintains good relations and close communication with government entities like the Supreme Council of Environment (SCE), Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health, Port Marine Authorities (PMA), and the Ministry of Interior to ensure a good level of compliance.
To back its well-placed strategies, Asry has also focused on ensuring a safe working environment that is also energy-efficient. In line with this, in 2019 the company embarked on its journey towards modernisation and digital transformation.
“By providing the best working conditions, we ensure we can achieve the highest production levels under a safe environment, thus reinforcing Asry’s enviable standing in the international market,” Sahar Ataaei, Asry’s Chief Financial Officer, remarks.
She continues: “The modernisation programme included the acquisition of new equipment and construction of infrastructure and has led to the speedy completion of projects and contributed to raising the quality of services.
“The upgrades included a new fleet of mobile cranes, advanced turning machines, modern welding machines, and new LED lights in the docks to ensure the company’s uninterrupted operations, day and night.”
Asry has upgraded its yard’s machinery by importing and installing modern lathe machines, radial drilling machines and milling machines from Europe with modern technology and low power consumption features, in addition to acquiring water blasting jet stream pumps. These pumps are distinguished for their speed and flexibility, apart from their high level of performance and reduced maintenance time.
“The investment in this machinery is aimed at saving costs, increasing productivity and improving the quality of services provided to our customers,” Ataaei says.
“Asry shifted to LED lighting technology which helps keep our production running 24/7 and enhances the work space all over the shipyard facilities and onboard the vessels and rigs. It provides a high safety level during the night operations, like the docking/undocking of the vessel berthing operations,” she says.
The new marine LED lights were imported from Europe.
According to Ataaei, LED technology has also reduced Asry’s lighting electricity consumption by more than 80 per cent, matching Bahrain’s energy-saving and environment protection targets.
About 400 new specialised portable dock lights were acquired by the company, in addition to 1,060 confined space lighting units, including explosion-proof lights for hazardous environments.
In addition, the company benefited from its initiative by rationalising electrical energy through the deployment of the electrical energy capacitors system.
Other initiatives saw the Engineering Department deploy 3D scanning capabilities to create 3D isometric models of components which significantly reduced turnaround times and rework requirements.
The digital transformation journey went full throttle in 2020 and encompassed the digital overhaul of complete business processes and systems. Despite unforeseen events like the Covid-19 pandemic, Asry’s management decided to go ahead with the investments planned for the digital transformation with a firm belief that these would better equip the company to handle any unforeseen events going forward.
“The digitisation of operations has been enhanced by introducing a new system for managing enterprise resources, the Infor Cloud Suite system for industrial enterprises, which is intended to simplify and automate operations in all areas of the company and upgrade the digital integration to best practice levels in the industry. This development is the largest automation shift in the yard’s 46-year history,” Ataaei says.
The state-of-the-art cloud-based Infor ERP solution is hosted on Amazon Web Services, delivering high performance, scalability, and security. The new system will help Asry to improve the quality of service for its worldwide customer base and enhance its reach in the global marine port and service market.
This apart, the company has built a state-of-the-art centralised command and control centre, by replacing all surveillance cameras with high-end systems connected to the dedicated network infrastructure to ensure high availability and scalability of the system. The centre will enable Asry’s security team to monitor yard activities in real-time, safeguard the premises, ensure the safety of staff, and fulfil regulatory requirements.
Asry is currently engaged with one of the leading institutes of Bahrain working in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), to identify business opportunities for leveraging AI technology and machine learning for enhancing business operations and productivity.
Asry has embarked on a number of environmental initiatives, including becoming the first shipyard to achieve global standards in green steel recycling of vessels, a yard-wide solar panel project which is under development, in addition to improvements, such as LED lighting for rigs and power capacitor banks.
The company is already seeing benefits from this Energy Efficiency initiative, as the newly deployed power capacitor bank has reduced the yard’s power consumption without affecting productivity and resulted in savings of more than $50,000 in the first six operational months.
“By deploying these capacitor banks, the power factor required for the yard equipment – for example welding transformers, compressors, pumps, machines, dehumidifiers and cranes – can be efficiently stepped down, wasting less energy,” Sauvir Sarkar, Asry’s new Construction & Engineering Senior Manager, explains.
Asry became the first shipyard in the region to achieve compliance with the three highest global environmentally conscious ship recycling certifications: the Hong Kong Convention, European Union Ship Recycling Regulation and IS0 30000.
The company this year marks 45 years since its inception, and has celebrated key milestones along the way such as the opening of its graving dock in 1976 and the introduction of floating docks in 1992 and of new slipways in 2008. The shipyard was also expanded with a new quay wall in 2011.
“Our vision for Asry is twofold; first, modernising the company in all aspects, whether infrastructure, the way we do business, corporate culture, manpower development, and more; and secondly, diversifying our businesses by capitalising on the assets of Asry to offer the market more choices in ways of doing business with us, and therefore, create different revenue streams for the future,” Matar says.
Being the engineering facility of choice in the Arabian Gulf, along with its long experience and skilled workforce, Asry was able to attract more pressure vessel manufacturing and repair projects through committing to the delivery of good quality work, safely and on schedule.
Being an approved U and R stamp pressure vessel maker has allowed the company to enter the oil and gas market as well as to manufacture components for its rig and ship repair customers. Asry has already produced U-stamped pressure vessels and installed them on two jack-up rigs.
The shipbuilding and repair yard has about a 20,000-sq-m area available for construction and fabrication activities. These are used to supplement various retrofits being undertaken by Asry, such as manufacture of steel houses for scrubber and Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) installations, accommodation modules and other structures for jack-up rig upgrades. In addition, fabrication capabilities include building of various marine assets.
Asry recently celebrated International Day for Women in Maritime at the company’s headquarters in Hidd, in appreciation of women’s distinguished role and remarkable contributions to the maritime industry, during which Matar expressed his appreciation for all the efforts of the company’s female employees.