Transporting more than 1.6 million cars every year, Höegh Autoliners sees to that all the cars get safely home to the next phase of their lives. Keeping the company at the forefront of shipping, President of Höegh Fleet Services, Yngvil Åsheim, always has innovative projects going on: ranging from technological developments to cultural awareness.
As president of Höegh Fleet Services, naval architect and former DNV manager Yngvil Åsheim is responsible for Höegh’s technical management and crewing.
“We believe that having in-house expertise makes us a better supplier,” she states.
Emphasising competence development as a vital part of her management philosophy, she works systematically to further develop her staff. By expertise she means both technical expertise and softer areas such as attitudes, communication skills, cultural awareness and management style. Reports say that she succeeds very well in implementing her philosophy. She knows her technical area very well, and by placing emphasis on the soft areas she has taken the company one step further. Doing things her own way, always with a smile
and a ‘personal touch’, she has managed to become a popular leader with a high standing within the company.
Höegh has strategically decided to focus on two business segments. About 80% of its total turnover comes from Höegh Autoliners, while the remaining 10% comes from Höegh LNG (liquefied natural gas). Höegh Autoliners operates a fleet of about 50 vessels in global trade and is one of the world’s largest transporters of vehicles and heavy rolling cargo. Höegh LNG has five vessels in operation, and two of these will serve the Snøhvit natural gas field in the North Norwegian Sea, transporting LNG to the US and Spain.
Yngvil Åsheim is also responsible for the planning and supervision of all of Höegh’s newbuilding projects. In order to meet the growing demand, the company has implemented a programme to build 20 new car carriers and two new LNG vessels. Once a newbuilding contract is signed, Yngvil Åsheim assumes responsibility. She is currently managing newbuildings in the Philippines, Korea and Croatia. The two new LNG vessels built in Japan have just been launched.
“We are now going to build two advanced LNG vessels – shuttle regasification vessels (SRV) – for regasification onboard. These vessels will serve a deepwater terminal off Boston and will be delivered by Samsung, Korea, in 2009,” she explains. “The concept was developed as a joint industry project, and DNV conducted an evaluation of it at an early stage.”
Always new exciting projects
In order to be at the technological forefront of shipping, Höegh makes sure to always have new exciting development projects going on.
One of the projects currently going on is an interesting one regarding a ballast water handling installation.
“Ballast water is defined as one of four environmental threats to the world’s oceans, and we are now testing a prototype developed by a small Norwegian company called Oceansaver in close cooperation with the Norwegian maritime cluster. The prototype is showing promising results,” she explains. DNV has also taken part in this project.
Taking its environmental responsibilities seriously, the company has allocated considerable resources to this work. Höegh was among the first shipowners to be certified according to the ISO 14000 environmental standard, and it has now initiated a project focusing on exhaust scrubbers.
Representing the more soft areas, the ‘All onboard’ programme was implemented this year. Following the unfortunate incident involving Höegh’s vessel Minerva off the US coast in 2003, when bilge water was discharged directly to the sea, the company realised that it had to establish a new business-culture platform to avoid such occurrences in the future.
“We understood that it was necessary for us to allocate considerable resources in order to develop the right attitudes among our people. But we didn’t believe in a one-off campaign. That’s why we launched All onboard. However, we realised that we needed more competence about cultural differences, both to develop the programme and to make sure we reached everyone we wanted. It was also important for us to ensure that all those that were to travel around and present the material understood these challenges,” explains Yngvil Åsheim, and it is easy to observe that she is enthusiastic about this initiative.
Established in 1927, Höegh had a lot of good values from its history to build on in order to bring the company into the future. One aspect that needed improvement, however, was the reporting routines to allow the flow of crucial information, i.e. regarding operational deviations and environmental breaches. It was important to get the message across that the company valued the reporting of such information.
Reaching across cultures
“We developed the material and, assisted by DNV’s cultural awareness expert Pellegrino Riccardi, we succeeded in reaching superintendents and crew managers so that they got better equipped to communicate the programme to the seafarers. Four key messages were chosen: Live our values, think consequences, speak out, and take responsibility,” says Yngvil Åsheim proudly.
All onboard has received positive feedback and Höegh has experienced a formidable increase in reported cases. Other shipowners are already looking into the concept.
“We took action and can see great results. Realising that this is a new kind of knowledge necessary to operate in the new risk reality, we are now planning the next stage; ‘All onboard 2007’, which will build on our good experience and ensure the development we want,” concludes Yngvil Åsheim.