PES caught up with Hans Gatzemeier, CEO of ELA Container Offshore, Germany, to find out what is being done to cater for the need for nearshore accommodation in a flexible, cost-saving way.
PES: Hello Hans, I am very pleased to be talking to you again for the last edition of PES Wind in 2021. With the year now drawing to a close, how have you found it in terms of the developments in the offshore industry?
Hans Gatzemeier: We have achieved the goals we set ourselves and are therefore very pleased with how the year has gone. During the pandemic, we did our best to meet our customers’ demands. We can now look forward to full order books for the next few years. They involve interesting European and worldwide projects in the field of renewables and show us which markets we should pay more attention to.
PES: On the subject of developments, when we last spoke you mentioned that ELA has developed Offshore Light as a new container type. What prompted the development of this product?
HG: We have gradually built up and expanded our business by renting and selling offshore containers and their accessories. Our rental fleet now comprises more than 750 units, which are available for short-term use. The advantage of this is that the customer only uses and pays for the solution when there is an exact need for it, which is what makes this such a popular option in a market where flexibility is so very important. However, we were often asked whether we could also provide containers for the nearshore sector, or even for use in ports. We could, of course, use our offshore containers, but they are somewhat overqualified for this job. We have therefore developed a product that is specifically designed to meet these requirements. The key, as always, is to provide a flexible solution to meet the needs of the individual client. Time-saving, space-saving and cost-saving are all important too.
PES: That sounds very logical. Can you explain how the Offshore Light container differs from the other offshore containers in your product range?
HG: Our 20ft ELA Offshore containers are exclusively for offshore use and are built from scratch in our factory in Haren. Their solid structures and their pad eyes allow them to be certified in accordance with ISO10855 / DNV 2.7-1 / EN 12079-1 and the CSC. They can therefore be lifted and loaded offshore. They are equipped with A60 insulation in their walls and ceilings to meet further offshore requirements. With their solid structure and compact insulation, they have an empty weight of 7.7 tonnes.
Our new product, the 20ft ELA Offshore Light container, is a modified transport container. After modification, it receives a new CSC certificate and is equipped with thermal insulation and B15-certified wall and ceiling panels.
Its empty weight is about four tonnes, depending on its equipment. This makes it ideal for use on pontoons that have been moored alongside quays or for use on barges operating in inland waters or in harbours.
PES: Who are your Offshore Light containers particularly suitable for?
HG: We expect them to be used in coastal and inland waters. However, they are also ideally suited to the onshore sector, perhaps for use in harbours and coastal areas where harsh weather conditions prevail, and a solid and weatherproof solution is required. They have a high insulation value, which makes it comfortable to work or sleep in them.
Of course, the containers are designed to the health and safety standards for the offshore wind industry, as well as to meet the comfort needs of those using them.
And in an industry where reducing costs and adhering to tight budgets and strict timelines is so important, the Light Containers are a suitable all-round solution.
PES: What advantages does this new product offer your customers?
HG: With the Offshore Light container, ELA has another container type in its product range that can be used in diverse ways depending on the customer’s purpose. The pricing model is attractive, reflecting our savings in materials. Customers can rent or purchase this new product and can combine it freely with our offshore containers and accessories.
PES: This has made your product range even more varied than it was. Does it come with as many different choices of equipment as your other containers? If so, what equipment comes as standard?
HG: All choices of equipment are of course available, as with our standard Offshore container. It can therefore be used for living quarters, offices, meeting and changing rooms, kitchens and even fitness rooms. We also offer double rooms. These have a floor space of about 30 square metres and are ideal for meeting or recreation rooms.
PES: Can you also build and equip the Offshore Light container in accordance with the customer’s individual requirements?
HG: Yes, of course. We have recently completed a two-storey unit in accordance with a customer’s requirements. These included extra windows with blinds, a side door and smaller toilet windows. In principle, anything is possible. We are flexible and follow the customer’s requirements to the letter with respect to the interior.
PES: You can use accessories, such as gangways and stairs, to assemble the containers as complex systems. Is this also possible with the Offshore Light container and are the accessories from your product range compatible with this new container type?
HG: We can, if necessary, quickly and easily combine this container type with any of our others. This also applies to our accessories, including gangways, stairways and stairway containers. Our containers can be stacked four high and are declared as CSC containers when customers transport them by ship. This makes it much more attractive to transport them worldwide. Our customers can assemble the containers themselves on site, because we have pre-installed our ELA Plug & Play system in them. This means they can be immediately ready for use, with all the necessary power connections, water pipes if the container has a sanitary unit inside and air-conditioning unit integrated in a space-saving way and centrally accessible. This is important because the nature of the industry dictates that such accommodation is often required at short notice, and this makes it quick to respond and cater to changing requirements.
PES: Before we conclude, it would be interesting to hear what your goals are for 2022?
HG: Our goals for 2022 are to continue to improve our know-how and to offer our customers added value, not only with our standard products but also with special containers in all sizes and dimensions. Our containers are extremely versatile, and I think people will hear a lot about ELA during the next few years.