Building quality

Published : Apr 09, 2004 00:00 IST

Cochin Shipyard Limited, India's most modern ship-building facility with capabilities to handle sophisticated repair jobs, is poised to emerge as the leading shipyard in South-East Asia.

THE shipbuilding and repair industry has always been a key sector in all developed and fast-growing economies as it is highly labour-intensive. Ship construction and repair requires a vast array of inputs so the growth of this industry leads to a broad-based development of the economy.

Realising this, Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) was set up as a greenfield shipyard in 1972. Today, in spite of intense competition and the lack of a level playing field, this shipyard, considered the most-modern in the country, has secured three shipbuilding orders in the international market in the past three years, the latest being a series order in large ship construction.

Cochin Shipyard has the capacity to build up to 1,10,000 deadweight tonnage (dwt) and repair up to 1,25,000 dwt. It has constructed all types of ships, including bulk carriers, double hull tankers, passenger ships and port craft. CSL has undertaken the repairs of defence and merchant ships, including aircraft carriers, oil rigs, offshore supply vessels, tankers and product carriers. This is the first shipyard to get ISO 9001-200 quality certification from Lloyd's Register of Quality Assurance.

Until the early 1990s, CSL was satisfied with securing orders on nomination from other government undertakings at what was called derived price. However, with liberalisation, public sector shipyards were forced to compete with the leading shipyards of the world and match their price and delivery schedules, in order to secure orders.

Cochin Shipyard was the first Indian yard to adapt to the changing business environment. Realising the demands of the competitive market, it embarked on measures to become commercially viable.

The yard's ship design department was upgraded with the installation of Autocad licences and Tribon software in order to enhance its capacity to generate quality drawings.

Logistics management being a key area, especially in shipbuilding and repairs, purchase procedures were streamlined to reduce lead times. Regular grading and rating of suppliers was introduced for sound logistics management.

Yard facilities were improved by installing key equipment in order to speed up the production process and improve the quality of work. The yard has a self-elevating transporter, ultra high-pressure water jet blasting equipment, CNC plasma cutting machines, CO{-2} welding machines and pipe benders.

As a result of these efforts, CSL is today capable of building ships for international customers. In a major breakthrough in its effort to participate in international projects, the shipyard concluded a contract for building 30,000 dwt bulk carriers for the Clipper Group of Denmark in January. It is also constructing nine tugs for the Jeddah Port Authority, Saudi Arabia, the contract for which was signed in June 2003. In February 2003 the shipyard delivered a 15,000 t jacket launch barge to the National Petroleum Construction Company, Abu Dhabi.

The shipyard commenced ship repair operations in 1982 and has undertaken repairs of all types of vessels . The shipyard has, over the years, developed adequate capabilities to handle complex and sophisticated repair jobs. CSL is the authorised service centre for Sulzer engines. It has so far repaired more than 1,000 vessels. In 2002-03, the yard repaired 50 vessels, of which 80 per cent were delivered on schedule. CSL even wins ship repair contracts in international competition with the yards of Colombo, Singapore, Bahrain and Dubai Drydocks, among others. Besides the natural advantage of good location, CSL has the following strengths:

It has highly skilled naval architects and design engineers, who are well versed in the latest ship design software.

Its engineers are capable of undertaking any complex repair job.

It has a skilled workforce experienced in the construction of a variety of ships.

It has a good system of rating and grading of suppliers, which ensures reliability.

It has a proactive, forward-looking corporate culture.

Apart from the core activities of shipbuilding and repair, CSL has been operating a Marine Engineering Training Institute since 1993. The institute implemented IMO-STCW-95 code of training scheme in February 1997 and received ISO 9001 accreditation exclusively for its marine engineering training in 1999. Recently the yard received the ISO 9001-200 accreditation in conducting marine engineering training.

It has a lot of firsts to its credit. It is the first shipyard to get excellent rating from the Government of India (GOI) three years in a row. With the excellent opportunity promised by the Sagar Mala project, CSL could emerge as a leading shipyard in South-East Asia.

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