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”Monitoring the ship construction in China is a dream job”

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”Monitoring the ship construction in China is a dream job”

Four of Furetank’s employees take turns overseeing the construction of eleven Vinga vessels in the upcoming years. We talked to Mikael Johansson and Joakim Skottborn about the challenges, joys and best practices in quality assuring the works of a Chinese shipyard.

In their regular roles, Mikael Johansson is Chief Engineer and Joakim Skottborn is Chief Officer on board Furetank vessels. Currently they are stationed at the China Merchants Jinling Shipyard in Yangzhou, where the next eleven Vinga sister are to be produced.

– We oversee the construction and secure the quality that Furetank has ordered. It is intense work, since four Furetank vessels are being built at the same time, all in different stages. They take up a large part of the shipyard's capacity. We spend our days running around inspecting all technical elements, says Mikael Johansson.

Kindness is key

The two colleagues agree on what is the sole most important factor to raise the general standard of quality. It might not be what you expect: kindness.

– When we do our rounds in the shipyard, our philosophy is to get as close to supervisors and workers as we can. Welders, painters, steel workers… We encourage them, praise their work and push them to raise the bar a little higher. All the time we try to make good connections instead of pointing fingers, scolding or shouting. It helps them shoulder the responsibility of doing a good job and builds the trust needed to also tell them when something has been done wrong, says Joakim Skottborn.

One of the biggest challenges in guiding the construction is the language. Few in the shipyard speak English, which means most messages must be delivered through gestures, facial expressions and universal body language. When serious issues occurs, the site manage Lou Jin is an invaluable resource. He has worked many years in the shipyard, knows everyone and speaks good English.

Every ship better than the previous

Joakim Skottborn has been involved in the construction of all Vinga vessels so far, starting in 2017. He finds great satisfaction in the sense of continuous improvement.

– We have both operated these vessels at sea, we know the technology of the ships and have experienced first hand the features that didn’t turn out to the best. By now I know where an extra check is needed, he says.

Even if the intensity of the assignment is one of the challenges, it is also what makes the job enjoyable, according to Mikael Johansson.

– Experiencing this chaotic environment is so much fun. Scaffolding everywhere, machinery, people taking turns welding, laying out pipes, painting et cetera in an unbelievable pace. A few days later when you return to the same spot in the production, a new piece of the ship has taken shape. The development during the five weeks we have been here is incredible. It is like a well-coordinated ballet and the results are amazing.

Spiders in the professional web

Five weeks of work, five weeks home. In a few days the men will be relieved by their colleagues Magnus Johansson and Sebastian Kammerling. Joakim Skottborn hopes to keep working in the shipyard ”until the last piece of steel is welded onto the last ship”, and then sail it home to Europe.

– This is a dream job. We get to see and experience so much, be part of the development and we have great support from the office at home. We are the spiders of the web, that is our mission. We have a big team of technical experts, senior constructors, inspectors… And we direct the process to assure top quality. We aim to make every sister ship a little better than the previous.




Lars Höglund

Lars Höglund

Press contact CEO - Telefonsamtal från annonssäljare undanbedes - +46 (0)705 74 96 41

A Swedish shipping company: not a giant but a leader

Furetank, based on Donsö in the Gothenburg archipelago, is a Swedish, family-owned shipping company active in tanker shipping since the early 1950’s. Furetank operates our own vessels and is a founding member of the Gothia Tanker Alliance: a market platform for small and intermediate product tankers, operating 40 vessels in European waters. We are not a giant but a leader – continuously striving to adopt green solutions for environment and climate.

Furetank Rederi AB
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430 82 Donsö