Sif Group - Primavera also offers added value on the sea floor

As a member of the European Union, the Netherlands is obligated to generate twenty percent of its energy from sustainable sources by 2020. Wind energy plays a major part in this, so big investments are made in this area. Offshore windmill parks are an interesting growth market. The company from Roermond delivers the steel tubular constructions for the mills, which will then be anchored at the bottom of the sea. With the implementation of Primavera, Primaned made sure that Sif Group will be able to perform both the start-up phase and the execution with the precision needed with large-scale projects. 

Sif Group is specialized in the production of thick-walled steel tubes for the offshore industry. For a long time, the tubes were used mainly for steel constructions below drilling platforms. For the past fifteen years, the offshore windmill parks have been a huge new growth market for the innovative Roermond-based company. What started as a small machine factory in 1948 has grown to become a renowned market leader in the offshore oil- and gas extraction with clients from all over the world. At the moment, 197 of their own employees are active; furthermore, around 175 people are flexibly deployed. Since the Netherlands has been investing in sustainable energy for decades, Sif group’s field of operations has expanded to foundation columns for offshore windmills.

The Limburg-based company participated in multiple prestigious million-euro projects in the last few years, causing the core business of the drilling platforms to shift to the windmills. The factory in Roermond processed about 50.000 tons of steel in 2003; they processed 170.000 tons in 2013. In comparison: an Eiffel tower worth of steel is processed every three weeks. 

For manual planning to Primavera

Since Primaned came into view for Sif Group in 2008 and implemented Primavera, the possibilities for professional project planning immediately became visible, states Jean-Louis Janssen. As a planner, he can vividly remember messing around with manually coloring spaces. “In a short period of time, a lot has changed in the area of project planning. We started looking around after Excel no longer proved to be adequate. After researching various planning programs, Primavera proved to be the best package for multiple reasons. On the one hand, because big clients like Shell and BP already used Primavera, on the other hand, because of the program’s versatility.” Janssen also says the transparent way of working in Primavera is distinctive. “Information has to be entered once and can then be used and differentiated. For instance, clients can quickly and accessibly get information on certain facets, without revealing much of the production process and detailed information is quickly and accessibly available.”

Innovative technique

A million-euro project that Sif Group recently contributed to was the realization of wind park Eneco Luchterduinen. For this project, 43 windmills will be realized 23 kilometers off the shore near Noordwijk and Zandvoort. From the end of 2015 onward, the mills will generate green energy for 150.000 households. Jean-Louis Janssen elaborates: “The 43 ground piles were made in our factory in Roermond. The piles are seventy meters long, have a diameter of five meters and weigh 525 tons. Extraordinary is that the windmills are mounted directly onto the piles using a flanged joint, right after the foundation is driven into the sea floor. It used to be impossible to drive piles on the flange. This innovative technique is not used very often. Up until now, we always worked with a Transition Piece; a connecting piece between the ground pile, on which the pole and windmill will be placed. The part not being used anymore saves us a lot of time. We had previously invested in machines that could weld multiple seams at a time. Because of that, the ground piles’ construction time has been shortened: ten years ago, the very first Monopiles had a lead time of over a year, while the eighty Monopiles used for the latest project were made in just six months.” The fabrication of the 43 ground piles for Eneco Luchterduinen began in December 2013; the final two ground piles were delivered recently. “Meanwhile, the next project has already been announced: offshore windmill park Gemini, which will be realized 85 kilometers above the coast of Groningen. The 75 Monopiles and 150 Transition Pieces for this project will be supplied according to the standard construction. This park’s total sum is no less than 2,8 billion euros; the offshore windmill park is estimated to be finished in 2017.”

Planning at the highest level of quality 

Jean-Louis knows that the million-euro investments in windmill parks not only require the highest level of technique, they also require the highest level of quality. “Passing on the costs of the ground piles is by means of elements like currents and weather conditions. The diameter can vary from five to nine meters and the thickness can vary from four to twelve centimeters. All in all, it takes a couple of days to get all of the calculations to match.” Of course, this also applies to the foundation of oil platforms. Sif Group provides to large refineries all over the world, form Norway to the Gulf of Mexico. “As a part of these types of large-scale projects, a reliable and detailed planning is a requirement. It will cause big issues for other parties if our timeline is incorrect. Primavera can offer a solution for this, thanks to the database’s accuracy and amount of detail.”

Future links with Primavera

In order to remain an important (inter)national player and gain more insight in the internal business processes in the future, Sif Group is trying to link the entire ERP-system to Primavera. “Our new system is specifically designed for Sif Group and offers both European and world-wide support for our project planning. In the future, it will be possible to link material deliveries to Primavera; it also creates a flexible shell that can be turned on and off when needed, where the construction hours and man hours of various parts of a project can be entered accurately. The purpose is to gain detailed insight in the degree of occupation, time planning and budget monitoring of all of our running projects using Primavera. Access through the web interface makes project planning even more accessible.” Upgrading the Primavera package gives Sif Group support in many aspects of the complex planning of the windmill parks. “Many different parties are active in these large-scale projects, so we constantly have to consider changes in the area of design and adjustments in the budget.