Production capacity of the Polarcirkel boats, such as this workboat, is being doubled.

Akva subsidiary doubles boat and pipe production

Akva group subsidiary Helgeland Plast is doubling capacity for both its Polarcirkel boats and pipe production in a NOK 100 million (£9.24m) reorganisation which the Norwegian company says will benefit the aquaculture industry.

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Production of boats has moved to Mo Industrial Park, while the factory premises in Båsmosjyen – site, buildings and production facilities –will now be extended and upgraded.

Helgeland Plast in Mo i Rana is a leading manufacturer of polyethylene pipes, and several thousands of kilometres of pipes have been manufactured since 1971. The company already has one of the most modern production lines for PE pipes in Europe, and it is now making a drive to become even better.

Stig Meisfjord: "NOK 100m spent."

“Altogether around NOK 100 million will be invested in modernisation of our factory premises here in Båsmosjyen, where NOK 40 million will be spent to expand the site and remodel the buildings for greater storage capacity, while NOK 60 million is designated for upgrades to production equipment. This includes the installation of a new, fourth extruder line, which will boost our capacity,” said Stig Meisfjord, general manager of Helgeland Plast.

The move is partly prompted by the trend in fish farming for bigger and bigger cages placed in more exposed locations, which places new demands on the pipes that are used.

“Although the number of cages doesn't increase, there is constant growth in volume. Previously we supplied a lot of 400 millimetre pipes, but in recent years it has become common with 450 and 500 mm pipes. We have also created a prototype for cages with 630 pipes that have been trialled at Marine Harvest, and where feedback has been very good. The cages are becoming bigger and bigger, and have to withstand constantly tougher conditions. Now we're preparing to satisfy our customers' future needs,” Meisfjord said.

Increased revenues

“Using PE pipes in fish farming cages has several advantages. No corrosion or wear due to electrolytic processes, and no risk of attack by live organisms, algae, bacteria or multicellular organisms that can attach to the pipes. There are more and more projects at AKVA that require PE pipes, so there is good potential for increased revenues, so I'm certain that the investments we are making now will pay off.”

Helgeland Plast also supplies pipes to sectors other than the aquaculture industry, and an upgrade of one of the three existing extruder lines will allow the firm to increase the maximum pipe dimension from 900 to 1,200 millimetres.

Helgeland Plast's factory premises in Båsmosjyen is being extended and upgraded.

“This means we can supply a number of projects we previously would have been excluded from as we couldn't produce large enough pipes. The remodelling also entails that we will have a Fast Dimension Change solution. The transition from one dimension to another takes almost a full shift on a regular line. With FDC this will be reduced to 1-2 hours, which is a great advantage to both us and the customer. In addition, greater capacity will allow us to be a year-round supplier to the regular pipe market, while we previously have had to focus on deliveries only to the aquaculture industry in the first half of the year,” Meisfjord said.

He said increased demand for Polarcirkel boats, supplied to businesses in aquaculture, offshore and other industries, in addition to the police, armed forces and the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, meant moving production to increase capacity.

“Since March all of our boat production, from hull to completion, has taken place in Mo Industrial Park. The transfer there allowed us to increase pipe production in Båsmosjyen, and also double capacity for boats, from 70 to 140 a year,” Meisfjord added.