In Dubai, iPS is doing business with MAC Offshore (Marine Assets Corporation), a shipbuilder/shipping company owning six ships, which in recent years has increased its focus on facilitating offshore projects in the Middle East. Boudewijn Blatter, iPS Manager Middle East, directs the office in Dubai and tells us how a small assignment grew bigger.
Boudewijn: ‘For MAC, we provide complete crew management: we supply the entire HR track, from crew recruitment and payrolling to coordinating the logistics of the crew. MAC contracted us because it wanted to organise the crewing more professionally and according to European standards. It started with a few crew members on one ship but now we are responsible for organising this for all six ships. At iPS, we have an advanced IT system that gives all colleagues around the world access to the same candidates and enables us to act quickly.
There are always about fifteen men on board of each ship. For MAC, we were looking for engineers, captains, deck staff and sailors. The variety of positions was and is great. The officers are mainly from Eastern Europe and the ratings from Asia, which brings a mix of cultures on board. The pressure to get everyone on board in time, with the right experience and papers, is often great’, says Boudewijn. The ships have a ‘minimum safe manning’ to ensure safe working conditions. Boudewijn: ‘MAC specialises in offshore projects. They sail with DP2 Platform Supply Vessels, for a variety of clients in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. MAC offers technical support for drilling and diving operations, as well as logistical support when it comes to supplying drilling rigs.’
Boudewijn tells us how business in the Middle East differs from the European market and that it’s very price-driven. ‘It is up to you as a supplier to decide how far you want to go. Then it turns out that we’re not the cheapest.
However, if a company wants to go for quality and transparent payrolling, they will come to us. We are rather stubborn, and stick to our vision of good employment practices and European values. Many companies inquire and go for the cheapest supplier. We do things in a different way, we act as partner. We want to help companies by focussing on the issue instead of just delivering. We investigate the problem a company faces and we offer possible solutions based on that. That’s why we keep a close eye on how the market develops, so we can deliver the right people quickly.