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Through the acquisition, the innovative fire extinguishing system for container fires is fully integrated into VIKING's one-stop product range of maritime security solutions. VIKING Life-Saving Equipment has acquired HydroPen, the company behind the unique HydroPen fire-fighting equipment for container fires, which has been delivered to hundreds of ships. Hydropen HydroPen's rapid spread is due to the system's combination of innovation, efficiency, and ease of use. The system is mounted on one of the ship's fire hoses and hoisted up by means of a telescopic arm by just a single crew member. The water pressure alone drives the system's drilling and spray nozzle, which pierces the container door, after which it switches to spray function and extinguishes the fire with water, foam, or CO2 directly at the source. HydroPen was founded in 2016 by Martin Winkel, CEO, and Jesper Rosenfeldt Hansen, CTO and system inventor. The goal was to revolutionize firefighting work on board container ships using innovative, safe, and user-friendly technology. Acquisition HydroPen has aroused interest among land-based firefighters who have been quick to see the value of the system Around the same time, there was a growing need for solutions in the industry. In 2019, nine major container ship fires were reported, followed by 10 incidents in 2020, and the foremost insurance company in transport and logistics, TT Club, estimates that, on average, a container fire occurs every 60 days. The International Union of Marine Insurance has called for improvements in ship design and firefighting equipment on board ULC ships. The acquisition also follows in the wake of a fire aboard a 4,200 TEU container ship off Malaysia in April, in which 50 local firefighters were deployed after the ship returned to the port of departure and anchored. Hydropen's worth in firefighting situation "This is an important acquisition for VIKING and for the safety of the container ship industry," says Lasse Boesen, Senior Product Manager at VIKING. "We contacted the men behind HydroPen shortly after the system won the Danish Tech Challenge Entrepreneurship Award in 2017. From the system's official launch at SMM in 2018, VIKING became the sole distributor of HydroPen, which was to support orders from some of the industry's biggest names." "Once a crew has become acquainted with HydroPen, there is no going back - and since its introduction, the system has already shown its worth in real firefighting situations. Recently, HydroPen has also aroused interest among land-based firefighters who have been quick to see the value of the system," adds Lasse Boesen. Best Firefighting safety product "We are integrating HydroPen into our product range as a further development of our comprehensive strategy for maritime safety," says Henrik Uhd Christensen, VIKING's CEO. "The HydroPen system addresses a specific challenge and a widespread safety problem in the industry, while harmonizing with VIKING's role as an innovation leader and trusted safety partner, further underlined by the fact that the system has won the Safety at Sea award for best fire fighting safety product." The two people behind HydroPen, Martin Winkel and Jesper Rosenfeldt Hansen, are both delighted to see VIKING carry the baton further in the marketing of HydroPen. Most innovative Technology "VIKING and HydroPen have had a completely exceptional collaboration from the outset," says Martin Winkel. "Creating innovation with the aim of saving human lives is the very core of what we wanted to achieve with HydroPen, and we are convinced that our invention is in good hands at VIKING. Together we have succeeded in positioning the HydroPen system as the industry's most innovative technology for extinguishing container fires, and we look forward to following the further journey, both as active stakeholders in the transition period and in the future."
VIKING Life-Saving Equipment has acquired HydroPen, the company behind the unique HydroPenTM container firefighting solution supplied to hundreds of ships. HydroPen's rapid uptake has been due to its combination of innovation, efficiency and ease of use. Attached to a ship’s hose and raised on a telescopic arm by a single crew member, water pressure alone powers its ‘drill and spray’ nozzle to penetrate a container door before switching to spray mode to extinguish a fire with water, foam or CO2 – directly at its source.HydroPen was founded in 2016 by Martin Winkel, CEO and Jesper Rosenfelt Hansen, CTO and system inventor. Their inspiration was to apply innovative, safe and user-friendly technology, to revolutionize firefighting on board container vessels. fire-fighting equipment improvements Around the same time, the need for new solutions was on the rise across the industry. Nine major container ship fires were reported in 2019, followed by ten incidents in 2020, while the leading transports and logistics insurer, TT Club estimates that a container fire occurs on average once every 60 days. The International Union of Marine Insurance has called for ship design and fire-fighting equipment improvements on Ultra Large Container Ships. The acquisition also follows a fire in April onboard a 4,200TEU container ship off Malaysia, which called 50 local firefighters into action after the vessel returned to anchorage. “This is a significant acquisition for VIKING and for safety in the container shipping industry,” says Lasse Boesen, Senior Product Manager, VIKING. “We approached the HydroPen originators shortly after the system won the 2017 Danish Tech Challenge accelerator prize. From its official launch at SMM 2018, VIKING became HydroPen’s exclusive distributor, going on to support orders from some of the industry’s biggest names.” integrating HydroPen We are integrating HydroPen into our portfolio, in another evolution of our full scope strategy for marine safety: “Once crews familiarize themselves with HydroPen, there is no going back - and since its introduction, the system has already proven itself in live firefighting situations. Recently, HydroPen has also generated interest among land-based fire-fighting operators who have been quick to recognize its value," adds Boesen. “We are integrating HydroPen into our portfolio, in another evolution of our full scope strategy for marine safety,” says Henrik Uhd Christensen, CEO, VIKING. “The HydroPen system meets a specific and widespread industry challenge and safety concern while aligning with VIKING’s role as an innovation leader and trusted safety partner, as also demonstrated by the system winning the Safety at Sea Award for Best Safety Product, Fire-fighting.” container firefighting technology Both HydroPen’s Martin Winkel and Jesper Rosenfelt Hansen are happy to see VIKING carry the baton forward on bringing the HydroPen system to market. “VIKING and HydroPen have enjoyed an exceptional spell of cooperation from day one” says Mr. Winkel and continues: “Driving innovation at the service of saving lives is at the core of what we’ve wanted to achieve with HydroPen and we are confident that our innovation will be safe with VIKING. Together we have successfully positioned the HydroPen system as the most innovative container firefighting technology in the industry and we can’t wait to follow the journey ahead, both as active stakeholders in the transition period and beyond.”
VIKING Life-Saving Equipment A/S has now been operating for a full year in market conditions dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenging situation, VIKING maintained a high level of activity and achieved satisfactory earnings in 2020. Turnover of nearly 2.6 billion DKK represents a decline of 185 million DKK year over year, yet it is still the second-highest figure ever recorded by the company. Profit before tax of 168.9 million DKK is also lower than the record result in 2019. VIKING CEO Henrik Uhd Christensen is satisfied with the company’s ability to withstand difficult market conditions, which have simultaneously impacted the most important customer groups and triggered a perfect storm. “We made great efforts to prepare and to understand how COVID-19 would impact our business. The extreme fluctuations in demand have greatly impacted our production and service apparatus, but our strong global structure with a worldwide presence has enabled us to service customers despite the far-reaching restrictions. We have demonstrated our ability to adapt. Dedicated employees throughout our organization deserve the highest praise for successfully maintaining and expanding our market position,” says Henrik Uhd Christensen. Struggling Industries Poised For A Rebound The passenger ship market saw a meltdown of the cruise industry from the outset of the pandemic The largest customer segment, the cargo vessel market, benefited during the financial year from high freight rates in container shipping. The cargo market as a whole is volatile, particularly in the subsegments tank and dry bulk, as seen when tankers were used to store oil due to a slump in sales. Global freight transport by sea is expected to continue growing, albeit at lower freight rates. The passenger ship market, which consists of cruise vessels and ferries, saw a meltdown of the cruise industry from the outset of the pandemic. The reduced mobility between countries and regions also severely impacted ferry traffic due to closed routes and ships taken out of service. “I am certain that cruises will bounce back, but the industry probably won’t approach normalization until 2022. The large operators normally receive prepayments, which provides some crisis resiliency. The current situation is quite extraordinary, but we believe that most of our customers will make it through to the other side. Ferry services are a part of critical infrastructure and will also survive,” says Henrik Uhd Christensen. Transition In The Offshore Industry The offshore market reached a historic low with negative oil prices in the spring of 2020 as demand cratered due to the declines in transport. The oil and gas industry is dominated by large publicly-traded corporations that react severely to market declines, which means that an investment backlog will need to be addressed as the market recuperates. But this sector will also need a year of transition before the turnaround takes root. Sales to smaller, more specialized segments have been impacted by the barriers to in-person sales. Segments impacted include sales to military customers (Defense segment) and sales of fire suits and other personal protective equipment (PPE segment). Digital meeting procedures, which were quickly implemented on very short notice, have proven to be a good alternative given the circumstances. Customers Buy The Full Package “With the uncertainty about what framework Covid-19 will offer us, we are off to a good start in 2021. The continued integration of the companies we have acquired in recent years, combined with an organizational adjustment, has resulted in a well-functioning foundation for future business development. The process has been complicated by the limitations on our ability to meet, but we have managed to make things work.” “The strong rationale underlying these acquisitions has been confirmed by our customers. When purchasing products for newbuilds and when entering into multi-year service agreements, customers increasingly place full-scope orders that span our entire product and service program,” Says Henrik Uhd Christensen. Acquiring Other Companies VIKING has dedicated resources during the pandemic to further developing its product range and digital infrastructure The service area is seeing increasing demand for fixed price agreements in the rental and service of liferafts, as well as in Life Boat Service (LBS) and Marine Fire Service (MFS). VIKING acquired the Norwegian lifeboat manufacturer Norsafe in the autumn of 2018, followed in 2019 by the purchase of Rotterdam-based Drew Marine FSR and its global service network for fire-fighting equipment. In addition to integration efforts, VIKING has dedicated resources during the pandemic to further developing its product range and digital infrastructure – and the company feels well-equipped for the future. Financial Resiliency In Uncertain Times VIKING expects business activity this year at levels similar to 2020 and with a higher profit. “We have done really well in the past year, also when compared to other players in our industry. We have improved our debtor portfolio, reduced inventories, and reduced costs without compromising on our high-quality standards. The financial year saw a record-high cash flow by far, which provides resilience in times like these,” says Henrik Uhd Christensen. The declining demand for maritime safety equipment has had unfortunate consequences for a significant number of employees at VIKING’s factories, especially in Asia.
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