TSG Marine has been selected to exhibit in the Innovation Showcase at this year's VentureFest North East. They talk to BQ about their business and what it means to be innovative.
Describe your business in no more than 60 words
TSG Marine provides innovative engineering solutions, with a focus on the Oil & Gas and Marine industries. We supply integrated products and services to our clients; ensuring the seamless delivery of survey, engineering, verification, fabrication, installation and project management activities. Our business is based on a “can do” attitude and we consider ourselves bold but responsible.
What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?
Innovation is at the core of our business. We are also a small company that has been growing and developing rapidly over the last couple of years. However, our focus has been on clients based in Aberdeen and abroad. We are proud to be a business based in the North East and the opportunity to be part of the innovation showcase at VentureFest North East will allow us to raise our profile in the local business community.
Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.
TSG Marine introduced TSG/Pipe Repair with SPS to the market at Offshore Europe in Aberdeen this September. This exciting new product is a pragmatic response to common pipework corrosion problems experienced in many industries.
TSG/Pipe Repair with SPS is a permanent class-approved pipework repair solution used where structural integrity, containment, or protection against corrosion is needed. This in-service, no hot works bolted design is a cost-effective alternative to pipework replacement.
How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?
Pipes get rusty, they get corroded, and they become damaged – in short they become unsuitable and unsafe for use. In harsh environments, such as oil rig in the North Sea, the replacement of such damaged pipes via traditional methods means shutting down the equipment and cutting out the affected area. This is expensive and disruptive to the normal operations on the oil rig.
An alternative was required. Allan Syme (TSG Marine – managing director) had seen repairs being carried out on ship decks using SPS® (Sandwich Plate System), where a cavity between two metal plates is injected with a chemical which then hardens. As it hardens the chemical bonds to the two metal plates, creating a sandwich. Along with his engineering team Allan developed the idea of using SPS® around a damaged pipe in order to repair it. Carrying out the repair of a pipe this way has a number of advantages; (i) it is an in-service repair method meaning the equipment the pipe is connected to does not have to be shut down for the repair to take place; (ii) it is permanent which is unusual as most repair methods are temporary; (iii) it is a bolted no hot works design therefore no welding is required making it safer to install; and (iv) it is class approved meaning TSG Marine have had the product verified by a leading industry body (DNV GL).
What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?
Innovation means finding new ways of doing things. This continual change and development makes our business an exciting and interesting place to work. However, we also have to be very careful to develop the structured systems and processes to ensure that the business is stable and the strategy is clear.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Finding the right balance between innovation and commercialisation. We must innovate to stay relevant, but we must commercialise to stay in business and support the innovation.
We also face the challenge of demonstrating our innovative ideas to our clients. This was especially true for our new product TSG/Pipe Repair with SPS. As you can imagine, it is tricky to show off a pipe repair product without doing a live demonstration, which at an exhibition or in a client meeting is not practical for a number of reasons (not least the size and weight of the equipment). Therefore to launch this product TSG Marine had to think outside the box. We created animations and printed 3D interactive models. In conjunction with the more traditional presentations and brochures these innovative and engaging marketing tools worked well.
Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?
There is a lot of business talent in the North East and we have built up a network of trusted advisors. We have also been impressed with the support offered by our local council and other business initiatives, such as training opportunities for our personnel.
However, in a business based on innovation you must keep your ears open but your eyes focused on where you want to get to as a company.
What does being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?
TSG Marine were delighted to be chosen as part of the innovation showcase. As a North East based business, we seek to source support from local businesses and hire from the local area. Being recognised within the North East is an honour, particularly when it relates to innovation.
Our business is structured to support innovation and we consider it fundamental to our success. Being chosen shows that we are making the right decisions and moving in the right direction.
Where do you see your company in five years’ time?
We hope to have developed and launched a couple more of our innovative ideas. We are optimistic that our current activities when coupled with this expansion in our product/service offering will ensure we continue to grow in numbers. One of our founding principles was to create a supportive environment for ex-forces personnel in their transition out of the military. Therefore, we would hope through our growth will support this objective.
At Offshore Europe we were delighted that the Oil & Gas industry responded so well to our new product. However, we have also been thrilled with the interest in the product from outside this industry. Therefore, we would hope in five years’ time to have expanded to additional industries.
What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?
Consider recruiting ex-services personnel, from outside your industry or directly from universities. When carefully supported by industry specialists, we have found some of the most innovative ideas have come from those who are reviewing problems for the first time. You also need to ensure that you have a culture that supports innovation. People need to feel comfortable enough to ask questions and put forward ideas.
Come and see the region's latest innovations for yourself, and get a unique chance to talk to the people behind the big ideas by registering for VentureFest North East here https://goo.gl/kmYriT