Hans Gatzemeier, Managing Director at ELA Container Offshore GmbH, talks PES through the advantages of renting offshore containers, the option to buy and the possibility of liveable models complete with fitness studios, kitchen areas and even somewhere to do your laundry.
PES: Hello Hans, the last time we talked together was at the beginning of the year. How has the market been for you since then?
Hans Gatzemeier: It’s still going well for me and my team, thank you. At this time, the pandemic situation in Germany is relatively stable. However, we are observing the increasing number of cases in Europe and the global environment very critically and hope that we can go back to business as usual soon. Despite the tense global situation, we have had a successful year. We have been able to increase the number of containers rented in the North American market by more than 30 per cent, and we have also seen a doubledigit percentage increase in Europe. In order to be able to fulfil the increasing need, we are producing new containers in spite of greatly increasing material prices to hopefully cover the high demand. Thus, it can be said that we are very satisfied with this development.
PES: In the last edition, you explained the advantages of renting offshore containers. To remind our readers, what are the benefits for customers in renting containers?
HG: ELA rents mobile room solutions in container form. Often our customers receive a tender for the installation of wind turbines, foundation engineering, or the maintenance and installation of a platform, etc. They contact us if they need additional sleeping quarters, offices, meeting rooms, sanitary facilities, control rooms, or project-specific accommodations because of a temporarily increased number of staff. Our customers can rent our flexible room solutions as they are needed and increase expenses only for this time period. Because markets and needs are always changing, our customers can always react flexibly, wherever they are working in the world.
PES: A great advantage of renting is of course also the aspect of sustainability, would you say?
HG: Yes, of course, we are realizing very high productivity through the constant reuse of the containers for different purposes across a very long service life. The older the container, the more cost effective it is for us. They are thoroughly checked after each use and actually the quality of the containers is always very good, whether they are new or 20 years old.
PES: The topic of rent seems very exciting in any case – for you as well as for the customer in particular, but can ELA products also be bought?
HG: Our 20ft Allrounder containers, as the name itself suggests, are an all-round configuration, for short-term use by the customer. For longer rental terms of more than one year, we can also tailor to individual needs to a certain degree. But if something special is needed, we recommend buying the container.
In this respect, we are often talking about a long-term solution for which a rental doesn’t make financial sense anymore. But we can also offer the option of ‘sale and buy back’.
PES: For whom do you suggest the option to buy?
HG: We suggest renting for any period of time up to two and a half years, with the sale and buy back option being really useful if the container is needed from two and a half to four years. Anything over that and buying is likely to be the most cost effective option.
PES: Is there a certain type of container which is intended only for sale, or do you likewise sell standard containers?
HG: We sell all sorts and types of containers. From existing rental containers to custom-built products in all sizes, configurations, and particularities. Currently, we are planning a living container system including a kitchen, dining room, fitness studio, sanitary facilities, washing machine, dryer, and locker rooms with a floor plan of 15 x 15 metres and a height of approximately nine metres. This system is built twice, for the cargo area and on the hatch cover of a multi-purpose ship, to provide accommodation for up to 200 people.
PES: So, custom-built solutions are intended for sale. Could you perhaps briefly talk about an example project, and what the greatest challenges are with such a project?
HG: Yes, primarily custom-built solutions. The challenges are upholding the valid specifications and ensuring the safety of people offshore. The regulations for this are diverse and different globally, however, we know them very well by now and are able to adapt. As an example project, I would name the containers for various converter platforms. For this, we had to satisfy the safety requirements of the customer, adhere to the norm of the classification association while at the same time upholding the legal requirements of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) and the Trade Supervisory Board (GAA). We have already delivered and installed seven platforms to the satisfaction of the customer, with the option for more.
PES: Just one more topic before we close. We have heard that you are working on a new development, a so-called Type Offshore Light. What exactly does that mean?
HG: Yes, in the past, we have often heard from our customers that our offshore containers are overqualified for their planned use. For example, they correspond to requirements that are not absolutely necessary for the planned area of use. Because these containers are overwhelmingly used near-shore, on barges, pontoons, or even in harbours, we have brought the container type Offshore Light to life. This is a robust alternative to the offshore container, but it just has a CSC certificate.
PES: Thank you for a new and interesting glance into your business and we look forward to the next interview.