copyright@Hydro Group plc.
Aberdeen based Hydro Bond Engineering is marking 25 years in business on the crest of a wave, with turnover increasing by almost half over the past two years. The company is a market leader in subsea connectivity, and encapsulation, and is flourishing particularly in the oil & gas and defence arenas.
Hydro Bond designs and manufactures underwater and harsh-environment electrical and optical connectors, penetrators and cable assemblies to provide power and data into a wide range of applications.
Customers are national and international, and in addition to defence and oil & gas can be found in the energy, marine, research, geological survey and aerospace fields. Managing Director Doug Whyte said growth had been consistent, but increased sharply since 2005.
“In the last two years, the company has grown by over 45% with turnover currently around £ 5million and this is something we want to continue with and build on. We currently have 65 staff but are looking to take on more people as we expand the business.
We are looking to build a new facility at the Science and Energy Park at the Bridge of Don – moving to a new purpose built building which will enable the company to better fulfill its manufacturing role – by the end of 2008. At the moment, 43% of our business is overseas and we predict that, in the next three to five years, our overseas business will double.”
My Whyte founded Hydro Bond in 1982 with a small team of engineers, and initially work was concentrated in oil & gas sectors producing subsea mateable connectors. The company was based in Aberdeen to enhance its customer base through subsea technology because of the presence of offshore oil exploration in the North Sea.
The company further increased its capabilities over the coming years by becoming heavily involved in Ministry of Defence projects and is now preferred supplier of electrical and optical connectors and penetrators to many defence-related companies.
Pressure hull glands with optical fibre, coaxial and electrical paths are now installed on all the Ministry of Defence Swfitsure, Trafalgar, Vanguard and Astute Class submarines was launched at Barrow-in-Furness with Hydro Bond connectors and cable assemblies on board. Staff numbers have grown over the years from just five in 1982 to 65 at the premises in Bridge of Don, with addition of its sister company Hydrocable Systems manufacturing customer specified bespoke cables for the same industries.
The company has also business partners in a network of regional offices worldwide – including the US, Norway, Italy, Poland and Australia – who are regarded as, and treated like, staff members. They have contributed to the increase in exports of 9% of turnover four years ago to 43% last year.
Mr Whyte said “Growth and employment have been unlike many companies in the North Sea oil&gas industry where some work is cyclical.
“There has been considerable growth overseas in the defence market in the US, Australia, France and Japan, predominantly on submarine platforms basically entailing anything connected to equipment on submarines”
The increase in this side of the operations is the result of a shrewd strategy formed in 1990s.
“We have been building the defence business over the past 10 years and there are big changes in the industry” said Mr Whyte.
“It is so different from when the MoD controlled everything. Defence companies are becoming more commercially aware and are cherry-picking goods and services off the shelf. Technology is moving so fast.”
Mr Whyte said the company was operating in a niche market – with competitors internationally rather than locally – but a key part of the firm’s success had been its staff. “We tend to have a strong long-term work force with experienced staff who have seen it all – boom and bust – but our business is steady. As we develop, we are looking for some engineers and technicians. We are trying to recruit graduates and build for the future.”
A yellow submarine dives into the depths of the bay of Naples.
Finns are world-leaders in the construction of tourist and research submarines. The latest example of this special expertise is the small research submarine built by Tarw-Trading, a vessel that can dive to a depth of 300m.
It naturally sounds odd that Finland builds submarines, although the country is not one that operates them. But it's actually true that, of all the world's research and tourist submarines, almost half are designed or built in Finland. Most of the others are manufactured in Canada, says Tapio Malmgren, Managing Director of Tarw-Trading Ltd.
Finnish know-how in submarine building was acquired in the 1980's when Laivateollisuus or LATE set up a submarine department. In the great turmoil of the ship-building industry, the department was wound up, and activities were split up into new companies founded by engineers who had been trained at LATE.
"In 1990, we set up Tarwell Oy, and then Tarw-Trading in 1994. Tarwell specialises in oil spill recovery equipment and professional diving technology and Tarw-Trading in submarines" says Mr Malmgren.
New maintenance and transport solution.
In June a yellow 3-person SM 300-3 submarine was completed in Tarw-Trading's assembly shop in Raisio. It is capable of diving to a depth of 300m and being submerged for four days. The customer for the SM 300-3 was the Italian shipyard, Cantieri Megaride, which built the support stand for the vessel. The Finnish-built submarine, which is equipped with a robotic hand, is intended to be used in looking for treasures on the seabed of the deep bay of Naples.
What's special about this is the it isn't only a submarine. It's also equipped with a service container, in which the vessel can be quickly air-freighted to anywhere in the world, explains Mr Malmgren.
A turnkey solution for classification Mr Malmgren says that the Italian shipyard wanted the Vessel delivered on a turnkey principle for purposes of classification.
"We requested bids from several classification societies and selected Germanischer Lloyd. Price was less of a decisive factor than the total solution that they were able to offer.
Our decision was also influenced by the fact that they have an office in our neighbouring town of Turku. Construction demands that an inspector pays a visit once a week." Mr Malmgren says that the co-operation with the classification society was trouble-free. Generally speaking it can be said that the rules made for submarines by the classification societies are starting to be at quite a good level.
There is nonetheless one cause for concern. Submarines are such a specialised area that there are not enough qualified inspectors in the world.
Aberdeen based Hydro Bond Engineering celebrates 25 years as a market leader in subsea connectivity and encapsulation.
Hydro Bond designs and manufactures underwater and harsh environment electrical and optical connectors, penetrators and cable assemblies to provide power and data into a wide range of applications. Customers are national and international, in industries such as defence, oil & gas, energy, marine research, geological survey and aerospace.
Doug Whyte, Managing Director, founded Hydro Bond in 1982 with a small team of engineers and initially work was concentrated in oil and gas sectors producing subsea mate-able connectors. Quality was the priority for the company; in record time approval to what is today BSEN I.S.O. 9001/2000 was achieved and has remained in place for 23 successful years.
Throughout the 80’s, 90’s and into the new millennium Hydro Bond has continued to grow, developing both its products and its people. Each of the last two years has seen an increase in turnover of 23% and products have a much higher profile than ever before. Pressure hull glands with optical fibre, coaxial and electrical paths are now installed on all the M.O.D.’s Swiftsure, Trafalgar and Vanguard submarines. On June 8th the first Astute Class submarine was launched at Barrow-in-Furness with Hydro Bond connectors and cable assemblies on board!
Staff numbers have grown over the years from just 5 in 1982 to 65 at the premises in the Bridge of Don with the addition of sister company Hydrocable Sysytems, manufacturing customer specified bespoke cables for the same industries. Hydro Group is proud to have achieved the Investors In People award, and the company continues to succeed by valuing its staff. The company also has Business Partners in a network of regional offices world-wide who are regarded as, and, treated like staff members. They have contributed to the increase in exports of 9% of turnover four years ago to 43 % last year.
Hydro Bond will be celebrating 25 years of excellence during the week of the Oceans 07 Exhibition in Aberdeen and with a BBQ at their premises on Thursday 21st June.
Doug Whyte would like to take this opportunity to thank all Staff, customers, suppliers and associates for their invaluable support over the last 25 years and to look forward to continued success in the future.
Hydro Bond Engineering (part of Hydro Group Plc), based in Aberdeen, has completed the first of two projects for Ocean Power Delivery (OPD). OPD is an Edinburgh based company which has developed Pelamis, a wave energy converter. Each Pelamis machine is capable of producing 750kW of power and an annual output of 2.7GWh
Hydro Bond has been working closely with OPD for the past year to design a new umbilical cable, subsea junction box and umbilical connection to the Pelamis. The umbilical contains 3 high voltage power cores, 3 low voltage signal cores and 16 fibre optic cores, armoured and self flooding to control its dynamic behaviour. The umbilical is connected to the subsea cable via a subsea junction box which houses the electrical and fibre optic splices. The junction box is designed to accept 2 umbilical cables. These cables can be spliced to one seabed cable which sends the generated power to a substation back onshore.
Photograph courtesy of Ocean Power Delivery Ltd This first project was to attach the new umbilical to an existing junction box 2km off the coast of Orkney. This was part off the upgrade of OPD''s Pelamis based at EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre), Orkney.
The Project Engineer for Hydro Bond was Ian Ogle, who is also controlling Hydro Bond's involvement in the second project: OPD's first commercial wave farm, which is to be installed off the coast of Portugal and initially consists of 3 Pelamis machines.
After the success with OPD, Hydro Bond is currently working on two new enquires from offshore renewable energy companies for the supply of their subsea junction boxes, umbilicals and connectors.
Photograph above courtesy of Ocean Power Delivery Ltd