Ove Ronny Haraldsen
+47 99 15 59 20
As the day dawns over the statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado and the Pão de Açúcar peak, and joggers prepare for their morning run along Copa Cabana or Ipanema, the centre of Rio de Janeiro comes to life. Between the towering skyscrapers, the sun rays barely filter through and the streets are overflowing with people who are most probably on their way to work.
Here, in the business district, it is hard to believe that you are in the most popular tourist destination in the southern hemisphere. This is where many of Brazil’s leading companies have their offices. In the midst of the offices, squeezed in between the towering buildings, in the small and quiet side street of Rua Teófilo Otoni, is a narrow, distinctive building which is not that easy to find if you don’t know where to look, but which in return is pretty eye-catching when you first know where to find it.
The building stretches up over seven storeys and is topped by a roof top terrace. The entrance is lit up by the logo, which proves that Kongsberg Maritime do Brasil has got its own offices in Rio de Janeiro.
Inside the building, the pace is hectic. When the K-Magazine arrives for a visit, the department has barely opened its doors and has yet to install simulators, decorate several classrooms and complete office spaces. Despite this, the company is already providing courses and during breaks you can hear enthusiastic discussions between instructors and participants. Amongst reels of cables and sanding dust, we meet Tom Willy Wilhelmsen, who is in charge of training for Kongsberg Maritime in Rio de Janeiro.
“As you can see, we’re not quite finished,” says Tom Willy, who for the time being uses what will become a classroom as a temporary office, shared with instructors, while waiting for the permanent offices to be completed. Kongsberg Maritime do Brasil’s first training centre was located in Macae, some 160 km north east of Rio. This was a much less practical location for both participants and employees, partly due to the long and difficult journey.
A few years ago, the training department decided to move to Rio for various reasons, but the journey from Macae has been long and time consuming. “We’ve considered many different alternatives and searched for such a long time before we decided to purchase and renovate this building. It’s really been a challenge to find a building which could meet all our needs, but we’ve finally found it and the location is great,” says Tom Willy.
“Although this has been a comprehensive process , it was important for us to move our course centre to Rio. When we first opened in Macae, this was a good location because a number of the major companies had offices there. But things changed with time. Many of our course participants live in Rio, so it is much easier to get here both for those who live here and for people travelling by plane from abroad. It’s also easier to find qualified personnel when you are located in Rio,” continues Tom Willy.
The training department currently has 12 employees, eight of which are instructors who will offer courses in the new building. While the top floor is set aside for Kongsberg Maritime’s administration and sales departments, the other floors are dedicated to classrooms and simulators in addition to office spaces for the instructors. In total, the building will house six classrooms, three labs and three simulators for practical exercises.
“The training market is constantly growing. This is mainly due to the high number of new rigs carrying our systems in Brazil. Another reason is the stricter certification requirements for crew. Operators onboard vessels need to display much more specific knowledge now than before. Some time ago, all you had to do was say that you’d been on a course. Now, the Nautical Institute has implemented specific requirements for instance to our basic course in dynamic positioning. The course participants have to pass an online test once they have finished the week-long course,” explains Tom Willy.
“In addition, there is the law which states that a certain number of employees onboard Brazilian vessels have to be local. To achieve this, the Brazilian applicants have to gain more expertise and this is where our services come in. We provide open courses on general software and courses that are tailor-made to specific installations. There is a particularly high demand for training in dynamic positioning.”
“Now that we have increased our capacity, have a better location and more classrooms, we will be able to offer more courses. In 2013, we had 750 course participants and we expect this figure to increase to 1,000 in 2014. We’ve also been able to provide simulator training for pilots in Brazil, thanks to the hard work of our simulator department in Horten,” he confirms.
Kongsberg Maritime has had its own sales and service office in Rio since 1 December 2009 but has a much longer history of business in Brazil. The office was opened to cater for the number of ships and rigs with dynamic positioning or integrated control systems from Kongsberg Maritime, which had increased from 100 to 250 in five years.
What’s more, the Brazilian authorities had begun to give priority to suppliers willing to invest in the country and made new requirements regarding a minimum of local content.
When the training department decided to move from Macae, part of the purpose was to co-locate with the rest of Kongsberg Maritime in Rio. However, it proved difficult to find a building which could house the 100 KM employees in Brazil. The result became a compromise, placing the training department in the new building along with sales and administration, while the service department remain in its original offices in the centre of Rio, on Avenida Rio Branco 173, only a few blocks from the training centre.
The 58 service engineers now share the entire twelfth floor of the office complex, which has a strategic location close to many of Kongsberg Maritime’s major customers.
“Being close to the customer is an important principle for Kongsberg Maritime,” explains Managing Director of Kongsberg Maritime do Brasil, Gustavo Pedreira.
“Not only do many of our major customers have their headquarters in this area, our location allows us to reach large parts of the region quickly for service assignments. This saves our customers both time and costs. There is an increasing number of vessels in this area with our systems onboard. Many of them come to Rio for service and maintenance,” explains Gustavo.
Kongsberg Maritime is not the only company to move recently in Rio. Kongsberg Oil & Gas Technologies do Brasil (Oil & Gas) also found they needed more space in 2013. They are now located on the fourteenth floor of an office complex in the centre of Rio, not far from Kongsberg Maritime’s locations.
Oil & Gas has been established in Rio since 2011, with only two employees in their initial year. During 2012 and 2013, this number had increased to 15.
When the K-Magazine came to visit, the office was still lacking furniture. The spacious office landscape in its elevated position looks brand new and has vast, empty spaces. It’s very much evident that there is room for expansion. In the midst of the vast, practically empty premises, we meet a small group gathered in an open office landscape. One of them is Lauro Massao Yamada da Silveira, Engineering Manager.
“Our office has two departments. One is Software & Services with seven employees. The other is dedicated to Subsea and has six employees. When we first opened in Rio, we shared offices with Kongsberg Maritime. Since we have grown so much and expect further expansion of about 10-20%, we needed more space and are very happy to have a whole floor to ourselves in this building,” explains Lauro.
After the K-Magazine’s visit, Kongsberg Maritime do Brasil has completed the building on Rua Teófilo Otoni N° 44 and Oil & Gas has moved to their new premises at Praca Floriano 19. With two business areas in the process of putting extensive moving processes behind them, KONGSBERG is well positioned in Rio de Janeiro, well-equipped to cater for the projected growth within maritime and oil & gas activities and to provide for market demand for new products, services and training for many years to come.