Sodexo: Redesigning offshore cabin space offers long-term cost savings

ByGareth Thain, Offshore Technical Services Manager, Sodexo Technical Services

Sodexo: Redesigning offshore cabin space offers long-term cost savings

The average North Sea installation is 28-years-old. So, many offshore cabins reflect a style and functionality that can be perceived as outdated for the working lives of modern personnel. Even some newer assets have accommodation infrastructure somewhat out-of-step with the pace of our ever-changing industry, which poses a variety of business challenges. To counter that, Sodexo’s offshore accommodation improvement solutions are designed to improve manpower efficiencies and have longevity in field life, among a number of other benefits

Offshore life can be intense with long shifts, so the accommodation must be comfortable and provide respite in downtime. It must also be flexible to support workers’ rotas. Feedback from the workforce tells us what makes a difference when living offshore. We have taken these suggestions and moulded them to suit modern operations. Some offshore workers have likened our accommodation upgrades to “a great hotel experience”.

Design is fundamental. Our latest cabin upgrades include provision to accommodate three people, rather than the typical two berth arrangement. This is possible by deploying our 2+1 bunk. The reconfigured cabin ensures every person gets their own bed and storage but there are never more than two people in the cabin at any one time. It is designed to optimise existing cabin space to address maintenance backlog, implement major projects, shutdowns and, ultimately, plan for decommissioning.

We can implement all changes whilst the asset is fully operational - with minimal disruption to day-to-day activities.

Our Technical Services division has a team dedicated to improving offshore living space, supported by our worldwide ‘Quality of Life’ research. Traditionally, we’ve been seen as an offshore hotel services provider, but we do much more – managing 33 per cent of offshore accommodation in the UKCS (United Kingdom Continental Shelf). Central to our purpose is to improve the efficiency of our clients’ accommodation and the quality of life for its workforce. This focus has seen a 50 per cent growth in our business in the past 18 months.

Optimising offshore space is key to an effective workplace. Clients recognise this plays a crucial part in their drive to reduce operating costs. They appreciate that by introducing a practical solution it provides the operator with the flexibility to increase POB (persons on board) if required. This will help to complete projects in less time and make them safer, which will ultimately bring forward start-up and production revenue.

Through more than 40 years’ experience of working in the North Sea, we often already have an established Sodexo presence on-board. That means we can offer clients a single point of contact on-site, covering a broader range of services. We are well positioned to react to a concern or provide initial survey information at the early stages of assessing an opportunity. It also reinforces our credibility – we know what the offshore teams are looking for because we work there too.

We take a holistic approach to how modern offshore accommodation works. We consider the proximity of space, how best to connect the work areas and how modern technology can be introduced to keep in touch with onshore support teams, and importantly with family and friends back home. Being able to see and hear our colleagues and families in ‘real time’ is a valued step in overcoming the stresses that come with workers being remote for lengthy periods. This sits well alongside our more traditional service provision of good dining, rest and social interaction.

When I started out in the industry, accommodation offshore was mundane. The practise was to repeat what went before, turning out the same detailing, use of materials, colours and finishing. When considering an upgrade these days, we would typically work to a lifespan of 15 to 20 years, with some lighter redecoration in between. So although we seek innovation, we steer away from fashion fads. We aim for a high-quality product that is functional, reliable and comfortable and in a style that is neither old-fashioned nor so modern that it will look out of place in five years’ time.

We never underestimate how an accommodation unit can connect people to the operator’s brand identity, and how that affects a good culture onboard. Clients’ expectations have changed; they are looking for that difference.

We offer fit-out sets and schemes in various materials, colour combinations and price ranges. Our software tool allows us to work with clients, showing them what the end product will look like. We can demonstrate how the increased efficiencies of well-designed accommodation can offer credible savings, far outweighing the costs. For example, our 2+1 bunk is a much cheaper alternative to the significant cost of hiring an accommodation barge, or the less attractive option of shuttling personnel daily.

We have a show cabin fitted out to demonstrate our innovative designs and the quality of our workmanship. It is a marine container that can be transported to any client’s workplace. We can also bring designs to life on the smaller screen, through interactive 3D-software on a tablet. A new app is also on the way to use on smartphones.

Oil and gas operators want to look after their people. They know this equates to a more productive and more engaged workforce, with fewer accidents. They also have a duty of care to their employees and contractors. Our ‘Quality of Life’ services place us in a unique position to align with our clients’ safety and people values. Sodexo’s Technical Services team is well equipped to help our clients achieve their individual goals.

Come and visit Sodexo at Offshore Europe at stand number IJ40, and you’ll see the offshore accommodation of tomorrow.

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