Tyne Gangway Shore Gangway Under Construction

A Question of Safety

With a greater focus on safety at marine installations globally, the demand for safe and reliable access systems in ports and storage terminals is a growing concern. Jasmin McDermott reports on how UK-based Tyne Gangway is serving this industry-led safety mindset.

This article has been reproduced from Tank Storage Magazine August/September 2018 issue.

There is no doubt that the issue of health and safety at industrial installations is an increasingly growing concern. As the saying goes, ‘if you think safety is expensive, try an accident’ and the cost of an accident goes beyond physical plant damage and injury claims to include the loss of the company’s reputation.

At marine installations such as ports, access and safety between a vessel and the portside has historically been a low priority. However, as the industry moves towards making health and safety more of a priority, port executives are now focused more on giving safe access to ships.

‘Reputation is also a key consideration for companies,’ says Ken McDonald, managing director of Tyne Gangway.

‘Companies do not want to be seen to not be looking after safety on their installations. There definitely is a greater awareness.

‘Providing safe and reliable access to tankers is a growing market and it is a substantial one to be in.’

Established in 1934 Tyne Gangway (Structures) made a name for itself in manufacturing aluminium gangways and accommodation ladders at key ports worldwide. It was the biggest supplier of gangways in the world and, at one point in 1965, the company could boast sending gangways and accommodation ladders to 78% of the ships completed in the UK.

In 2011 the company was acquired by LiftRite Engineering Services – a specialist provider of lifting equipment, fall protection systems, on-site rigging, testing services and engineering solutions - and through the company’s enhanced industry offering, it could manufacture and supply more complex access systems such as crane deployed systems and hydraulic gangways.

A large proportion of its materials are supplied by its third division DDS Metals and Plastics, which supplies aluminium, stainless-steel and plastic, plates and extrusions.

Today, the company provides systems for ships, ports, wind turbines and oil rigs in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Asia, the Middle East and Antarctic. 50% of its equipment is produced for export.

Capitalising on its success, the company is keen to grow further into energy and marine markets, particularly into the port and storage terminal industries, which form a key part of the logistical supply chain.

TYNE Walk To Work Gangway

Supply Chain Synergies

Last October, the company was acquired by Benbecula Group, a privately funded group of companies based in Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Led by CEO Ally MacDonald, former CEO of Wellstream International and MD of Technip Umbilicals, the group’s aim is to target further growth in existing and complementary markets, namely offshore, marine and engineering sectors, an ethos that ideally suits Tyne Gangways future growth plans.

In March 2018, the company then acquired the Loadtec Group, which provides a design, supply, commissioning and service package for loading arms, tanker access and fall prevention systems.

The group comprises Loadtec Engineered Systems, In Control Projects and Loadtec Service.

McDonald explains: ‘This acquisition has definitely opened up new markets for us.

‘Two years ago, we had a solid and steady customer base, but our growth was slow. Since being acquired we have experienced substantial growth.

‘We are looking to use the synergies with Loadtec to get more experience with oil terminals.

‘There is definite potential for us to expand into the storage market. It is a highly competitive market, but we are very confident in the quality of our product and we see a really big growth opportunity there.’

And part of this growth includes further enhancements to its bespoke range of access systems, all of which are compliant with leading international standards, including Lloyds, BV, ABS, KR and DNV-GL.

‘Everything evolves from a simple gangway and there are so many different types of access systems available.

‘We design many bespoke products based on the customer’s needs and we continually invest in adding more products into our range. We recently completed an order for a bespoke, hydraulic  access gangway for an Antarctic research vessel and are currently  working on a system for an iron ore terminal in Trinidad and Tobago.’

Ken McDonald, MD, Tyne Gangways & Ally MacDonald, CEO, Benbecula Group

Creating Opportunities

Ally MacDonald, CEO of Benbecula Group, explains that the strategy of the group is to create more opportunities for its portfolio of eight complementary businesses, which includes The Cylinder Service Centre – a specialised hydraulic cylinder service centre and manufacturing business, and Tyne Tec Engineering – a detail design engineering company.

‘Tyne Gangway has a really good reputation and is very much focused on its customers. Our ‘buy and build strategy’ focuses on niche businesses with a focus on solving customer problems.

‘We bring a different perspective to each of the businesses by creating more opportunities for them with more focus on business development.

‘It is a synergistic package to ultimately help solve customer problems.’

Alec Keeler, managing director of Loadtec Engineered Systems, says that the acquisition has resulted in a highly targeted growth campaign for the company.

‘Being part of a larger and well-resourced group of companies came at the right time. Loadtec’s growth was being adversely affected by risk-adverse banking policies and threats posed by global tariffs.

‘Benbecula have worked with us to analyse and identify our short, medium and longterm needs and we have since developed ambitious strategies for growth.

‘The Tyne Gangway team have been a perfect fit for us. They have a huge experience in marine gangways that we can exploit through our global sales network and this adds another branch to our marine portfolio as we take their skills into the terminalling industries.

‘We are innovating, which is vital to the future development of the brand and securing the confidence from our customers.’