During marine transfers, it is essential to achieve a maximum level of control. With the bollard step, Jan De Nul has designed a simple solution to enhance safety during transfers of crew and visitors. This innovative idea came from the crew of the multicat DN46 and was picked up during an Operational Control meeting, where an advisory board discusses suggestions that improve the safety and efficiency of the company’s operations. ‘We stimulate all possible innovative ideas within our company’, says Quinten Schaumont, Area QHSSE advisor. ‘At all levels, at all times.’

Jan De Nul’s bollard step has created a solution that is both easy and quick to use, as well as being low on maintenance. Designed by crew members, the bollard step transforms mooring equipment into a safe and secure step on which to make marine transfers. The main materials used are steel and anti-skid grating. The latter creates a safe surface from which one can make a safe transfer either between two vessels or from a vessel to the shore. The fact that the bollard step is quick and easy to use is reflected in the way it is mounted: two persons can effortlessly carry the two parts of the step and put it in place without the need for extra securing measures.

Operational advantage

A major plus of the bollard step not being a fixed structure is the operational advantage it provides. When in use, the deck space is not restricted as the step can be dismounted at any time (e.g. when cargo needs to be lifted on deck), nor does it interfere with mooring operations. If mooring operations would be hindered, the bollard step can simply be removed or placed on an alternative bollard. The design is adjustable to different sizes of bollards and could be extended with a longer surface to step on or made adjustable in length, in the case the width between two vessels is larger than usual. A simple and clever solution, the bollard step creates a safe and steady platform where there could never be a safe step-over zone. Thanks to a straightforward design, local workshops can easily manufacture the bollard step to match the specifications of locally hired vessels. The costs of the prototype were considerably low at around EUR 850 making it a cost effective solution.

Designed by crew members, the bollard step transforms mooring equipment into a safe and secure step on which to make marine transfers.

There are several step designs that can be used on a variety of vessels. The innovation will also increase safety of crew transfers on small Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) where designated means of transfer such as built-in steps are temporarily out of use. Future enhancements of the design could include an adjustable platform at the end to cope with different project locations. One benefit is that CTVs that otherwise might not be suitable during a project could therefore be used thanks to the bollard step. Depending on the cost of the CTV, this could result in considerable savings.

Design and engineering

Normally, the Marine Design and Engineering Department of Jan De Nul first designs the equipment, after which it is manufactured. ‘For the bollard step it was somewhat different’, explains Wouter Tollet, coordinator of the Marine Design and Engineering Department. ‘The crew members first created it for the use on their vessel. We then took over that design and improved it for fabrication so it can be used on all workboats and possibly other crafts as well.’

The Marine Design and Engineering department provides engineering assistance resulting in successful, efficient and safe execution of projects. ‘Our designers are responsible for the design of equipment and components for vessels and offshore structures in 2D and 3D’, says Wouter. ‘From the initial concept design to detailed drawings and related part lists, we provide a complete package for logistics, maintenance and production. In a second phase, our structural and marine engineers check the design against their calculations, ensuring safety and efficiency.’

Figure 1

The Marine Design and Engineering Department took the crew’s initial design of the bollard step and improved it for fabrication.

Besides that, the designers and engineers also support the new building department: getting the preliminary design for new build vessels on paper, implementing design modifications and improvements, and keeping the design data up to date. ‘We always consult our internal departments to determine the design constraints’, Wouter concludes. ‘Helping out with the bollard step fitted perfectly within our scope.’

Operational control meetings

‘Operational control and the drive for improvement are embedded at all levels within Jan De Nul’, explains Quinten Schaumont, Area QHSSE advisor. ‘It is founded on our Imagine, Think, Act (ITA) philosophy. To achieve maximum operational control, the QHSSE department has defined seven critical risks, one of which is marine transfer. The bollard step is the result of this way of working.’

The ingenious idea of the bollard step is now ready to be rolled out to various departments within Jan De Nul. ‘It’s the result of years of hard work to implement a platform where such ideas reach us more easily’, explains Christophe Leroy, Head of QHSSE Department. ‘As such, the bollard step found its way to our Operational Control meeting, an advisory board to discuss suggestions that improve the safety and efficiency our operations. These monthly meetings are set up as a synergy between the technical, operational and QHSSE departments, with the cooperation of other departments if necessary. Together, we discuss inspections, incidents and propositions of employees and other stakeholders. The goal is to define and identify lessons learned, but also to work out promising initiatives for the benefit of the entire company. Since the start of these meetings in 2015, we have been able to transform a number of ideas of our employees into initiatives that are supported throughout the entire company.’

Code Zero programme

The Operational Control meetings are firmly anchored within the organisational structure of Jan De Nul Group. More so, they have supported the birth of the company-wide Code Zero programme. ‘In 2015, we launched our Imagine, Think, Act (ITA) campaign in which we focus on operational control’, says Christophe. ‘Now that ITA is well integrated, we have taken the next step with Code Zero. This sustainability programme defines clear ambitions that go way beyond safety: Zero breaches, Zero waste, Zero accidents and Zero emissions.’

The focus of Code Zero is not so much on the individual goal but rather on the common road towards them. An important role is laid out for the employees of Jan De Nul. ‘Colleagues who do their jobs well and continuously want to improve themselves, automatically contribute to these ambitions’, explains Christophe. ‘The bollard step is a beautiful example of this approach. And this is just one of the ideas that came forward. In total, we submitted six initiatives for the IADC Safety Award. We are glad that the bollard step gets the credit it deserves.’