What we learned at the International WorkBoat Show

January 21, 2015

Mike Guggenheimer, President & CEO

As I prepare for my next trip to New Orleans for the Biobased Chemicals Summit, I am reflecting on my last trip there. The International WorkBoat Show in December was another great event. RSC Bio Solutions had our largest presence ever, with a booth and a significant technical presence. We even sponsored the keynote speaker, Captain Phillips, which was a highlight of the show for many attendees. I look for learning opportunities wherever I can, so here are a collection of insights from the show.

• Recent regulations are top of mind. Many operators are still seeking to understand how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit (VGP) regulation impacts them. The VGP requires the use of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants in a wide range of oil-to-water interfaces for commercial, non-military and non-recreational vessels over 79 feet. The focus up to this point has been on the obvious applications, like stern tubes. Work boat operators, who rely less on stern tubes than other systems but also have a wide range of hydraulics and gears than interface with water, are seeking to understand what systems they have that are covered by VGP. Where the regulatory or enforcement protocols are hazy, we still are seeing industry leaders making decisions to get ahead of this regulation. For example, we suspected at the show that the sVGP—which applies to vessels under 79 feet—would be delayed, yet still clients in this space are making fleet-wide decisions to move to Environmentally Acceptable (EA) solutions to be proactive and simplify procurement.

• There is an interest in making the business case for EA solutions. Simplifying procurement is one of many ways work boat operators are looking to justify the effort to switch to a new product. I see more and more players in this space looking to quantify the incremental costs and benefits, which is a very positive development from my perspective. Historically, fleet operators might have brushed aside EA solutions—making assumptions about inferior performance and higher costs. There is now a real willingness to open a dialogue about value. EA solution providers must demonstrate value through improvements in performance, reductions in operating costs, mitigation of risk or a combination of these benefits. EA solutions can reduce clean up costs, mitigate the potential for a bad PR event, extend equipment life and lower operating temperatures, but work boat operators want to do the math. The early adopters have already moved into the EA solutions space, so for those following fast, even if the math works on paper, operators want to see that the technology is proven by others that have used it or by OEMs who have provided a validation of performance.

• Companies are looking for ways to expand their environmental efforts. While some operators are simply trying to understand the regulatory requirements so they can strictly comply, we are seeing work boat operators that have a strategic imperative to move to more sustainable solutions. For us this was made clear in the increasing interest in RSC Bio Solutions’ SAFECARE series of readily biodegradable* industrial cleaners and solvents. Cleaners are seen as an option that combines a quick win from a sustainability standpoint with benefits similar to other EA solutions in reducing cleanup costs and mitigating risk. Also, unlike some hydraulic applications, the risks of switching are almost nonexistent. There are a number of cleaning applications covered by the VGP, but the industry leaders who are recognizing that they can use sustainability as a differentiator look at cleaners as part of a broad-based approach rather than a one-off solution.

• You are stronger than you think. Many of us at RSC Bio Solutions were inspired by Captain Phillips’ story. I have long believed that a team who believes in itself can do anything. We are ready to take on 2015 with Captain Phillips’ attitude: it’s not done until you quit. With the right attitude and effort, there is no limit to what a team can accomplish.

Best wishes for a winning 2015!

*As per OECD 301B or ASTM D5864

Back to Discover