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Teamwork and ingenuity during a major construction project

March 8, 2016

Location: Damen Shipyards, Netherlands

Challenge: How to build another roof on top of an existing one and install cranes inside this new infrastructure?

Solution: Build a steel layer with new cranes in order to remove the old roof.


Cooperation is invaluable to the successful completion of any project. Without coordination and flexibility, working as a team can become quite a challenge.

A new roof needed to be constructed on top of an existing building at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem, in the western Netherlands, and cranes had to be installed within it. While Gorinchem still functions as a yard, it acts as the headquarters of the Damen Shipyards Group so it was essential that business carried on as usual during the construction phase.

“This was not a difficult project in the sense of the type of crane we used – a pretty standard under-running crane with a lifting capacity of 7.5 tons and an eight-meter span,” says Paul van der Sande, Specialist Industrial Cranes at Konecranes. “It was more that we started a few years ago with discussing how to place new cranes in the old building.”

An unusual decision

From the initial meeting between Damen Shipyards and Konecranes in 2011 to discuss the budget plan, the scheme evolved one step at a time. It eventually grew to include the decision to build a steel layer with new cranes from which to remove the old roof with the old cranes.

Service platforms were then attached to these new cranes, providing a safe structure for Damen Shipyards’ technicians to conduct maintenance checks. Van der Sande adds that Konecranes engineered these raised level surfaces to suit their customer’s needs. “The end result is a combination of the best options,” he shares.

The most unique part of the undertaking was that the project team, comprising members from several companies, worked as a seamless whole. Albert Boersma, Project Manager for Damen Shipyards, and Leen van der Kolk, Project Manager Steel Structure at Van der Kolk en Vos Staalbouw, were crucial to the success.

“I contacted Leen van de Kolk quite a few times to talk about the technical details. We spent several evenings on the phone discussing the more crucial aspects of the project,” says van der Sande. The Konecranes specialist was also pleased to discover that Albert Boersma was able to gather such a dedicated group of people to work alongside him.

Mutual journey

For his part, Boersma believes that Damen Shipyards’ longstanding relationship with Konecranes allowed them to meet their goal. “We have worked together for years in the maintenance and also in the delivery of new cranes. These past projects were crucial in choosing Konecranes,” he says.

“In this project, given that we worked together very closely, how they listened to our needs and how they advised us was very important. There were almost no setbacks and the end result was that we finished two weeks earlier than planned,” Boersma continues. “The expertise and enthusiasm of everyone involved led this project to a successful end.”

Apart from exceptional teamwork and ingenuity, respect for a diverse range of opinions and open communication lines also contributed to the winning formula. “We learned that detailed planning is everything for a smooth process,” concludes van der Sande. “For me this was a perfect journey.”


Text: Gino de la Paz
Photos: Konecranes

Learning from the process

  • The key to success in the preliminary stage was the discussion with every involved party. Talking about the details eliminated all possible bottlenecks before starting with the project.
  • Safety, hand in hand with business continuity, was the client’s foremost concern. That the project was completed ahead of schedule and well within budget was a bonus.
  • Konecranes’ conductor bar system for crane power supply also played a vital role throughout the installation.