Meeting the pandemic challenge – HamiltonJet
“For the first time ever, we also launched a new<br /> product digitally via Zoom – our Electro-Hybrid<br /> offering, EHX – and that was really well taken up.”
Supporting essential maritime services in New Zealand and elsewhere during the Covid-19 crisis has been a key priority for HamiltonJet.
Even though their Christchurch factory was shut down during New Zealand’s Level 4 Lockdown, the company’s global network ensured support could still be provided for crucial coastguard and navy services throughout the world.
“We have three regional offices in Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States,” explains HamiltonJet’s Operations Manager Rob Carroll.
“We were able to supply parts and services from those offices during that time and then as soon as we went into Level 3 we got the factory back in full production and started sending parts and finished product to customers.,” says Rob.
In New Zealand, the HamiltonJet waterjet is synonymous with recreational jet boating. In fact, demand is across the board for these units at the forefront of marine propulsion technology. They are a preferred choice for patrol boats, fast ferries, wind farm vessels, fire boats, fishing vessels and military craft. Today more than 60,000 such units are in action propelling boats all around the world.
“I think many New Zealanders would be surprised by the scale and size of the business – ninety six per cent of our product goes to overseas markets.”
The powerhouse for this innovative technology leader is HamiltonJet’s Christchurch factory. It makes all the company’s products and employs some 200 production staff.
With marketing, research and development, and global sales and support added, the staff contingent totals around 350.
“We are very responsive to customer needs, using our distributor network and regional offices with good connection and communication back to our Christchurch head office.
“We take the time needed to understand our customers’ needs, with tailored solutions delivered by our application engineering team.”
HamiltonJet acted early to proactively manage potential pandemic impacts on its manufacturing capability by, for example, placing bulk orders with suppliers in Europe and the US as soon as it became obvious that supply chains could be disrupted by the virus.
Its team has responded with agility throughout the ongoing pandemic. For example, annual distributor conferences, scheduled to be held in Singapore, Norway and Florida in May, were instead hosted online via Zoom.
“We usually meet face to face with our 54 distributors across the world at these conferences.
“We were not sure if doing that online would maintain that same level of connectedness, but it was surprisingly effective and we are now exploring doing this again in future.
“For the first time ever, we also launched a new product digitally via Zoom – our Electro-Hybrid offering, EHX – and that was really well taken up.”
Looking ahead, HamiltonJet is seeing a shift in the global marine market towards more government-funded contracts as a response to uncertain times and to shore up struggling private ship builders.
Sustainability is also of ongoing interest in the industry. In July, HamiltonJet and EV Maritime signed a memorandum of understanding to develop one of the world’s first truly high-speed, full-size, zero-emission fast ferries. Rob says commuter ferries are an ideal vessel for electric-hybrid technology.