Case: cradle-to-cradle solutions in the supply chain
Boskalis wants its supply chain to be increasingly sustainable. To make our procurement processes even more sustainable, we have been working ever more closely with our suppliers in recent years. The collaboration with our supplier Vosta LMG (Vosta) for re-using pickpoints is a fine example.
Wear, tear and re-use
Boskalis uses cutter suction dredgers for dredging in hard conditions. These vessels have cutter heads with dozens of removable steel pickpoints. Arie Kamsteeg, Boskalis’ fleet manager, is one of the driving forces behind the pickpoints cradle-to-cradle program. ‘The harder the ground, the faster the pickpoints wear out, and the earlier they need replacing. Tens of thousands need to be replaced annually. Depending on the type used, a single pickpoint weighs approximately 20 kilos.
Approximately 60% of that is left after the pickpoint has been used and it can be recycled. In the past, worn pickpoints were sold locally as scrap. With the cradle-to-cradle thinking in mind, and given the increasing scarcity of raw materials, it started to make sense to think about re-using the material. To streamline the logistics of returning the worn pickpoints to the original foundries, we developed special steel “pickpoint bins”: square, extremely robust, steel containers. We designed them so that they can be stacked, are safe to lift and easy to move with forklift trucks.’ Boskalis now has more than 1,600 certified pickpoint bins in circulation.
This was the first time we had been asked to engage in recycling in this way’, says Vosta manager Components & Services Georges Teheux. ‘The hydraulic engineering sector has been talking about the ossibilities of cradle-to-cradle production for years, but Boskalis initiated this approach. And it is an initiative that we are happy to work on as a partner.’ Klaas Wijma, a senior product manager with Vosta: ‘The pickpoints are produced by a partner company, a steel foundry in Sweden. Working together with Boskalis really is a joint effort. For example, we worked out the dimensions of the bins in mutual discussions. Because they are easy to stack, exactly 24 empty bins fit in a container. In the meantime, we have developed a similar system for another major dredging company. It would obviously be fantastic if the entire sector were to switch to this approach using universal bins.’
The worn pickpoints are collected in the bins on the projects, and returned in sea containers to the foundry, where they are melted down. The new pickpoints are returned to the project from the foundry in the same way. Fred Dekker, a senior buyer with Boskalis: ‘This approach isn’t just much more sustainable, it is also safer: nobody needs to even touch the pickpoints anymore until they are actually going to be used, and that is fully in line with our
NINA safety program. The entire logistical process is also much more efficient and we no longer need to count the individual pickpoints: we weigh the bins and know exactly how many pickpoints they carry.’
Impact in the chain
Monique de Klein, a project manager with Vosta: ‘Since the start of this cradle-to-cradle program, we have already processed large numbers of worn pickpoints. This joint approach has had a major impact on various links in the chain because it also affects the operating processes at the foundry. We are helping them with this change and, gradually, everybody has started to pull in the same direction.’
150,000 pick points in Qatar
Arie: ‘On a project in Qatar, we are using pickpoints that are extra wear-resistant because the soil here is extremely hard. On that project alone, we have already used more than 85,000 pickpoints so far. Those numbers make it clear how important it is to re-use the material.’ Anne Jan Fokkema, the project manager on the Qatar project, explains: ‘We have to manage the ingoing and outgoing flows of the total of 150,000 pickpoints we need here without a hitch: that is the critical success factor on this project. Getting all the pickpoints we need into the country is a complex logistical puzzle. Vosta and the logistical departments at Boskalis have teamed up together excellently. However, local circumstances and regulations sometimes make it just as difficult to re-export the used pickpoints, pumps and pipelines for re-use.’ Arie concludes: ‘This cradle-to-cradle program has not only led to environmentally friendly procedures and considerable improvements in efficiency, it has also given a boost to safety. And that’s something you can’t state in money terms.’
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