Housing competence

Since the 1970s, Aramark Offshore has been at the forefront of providing ‘hotel’ services to oil and gas installations around the world.

These services range from both ‘soft’ areas such as providing administrative and accommodation facilities, to ‘harder’ areas such as maintaining the accommodation, as well as being able to convert and refurbish them.

The focus of the company is mainly on the North Sea installations, yet in 2002 Aramark was awarded a contract with the Caspian Drilling Company for the service of two rigs in Azerbaijan, the Dada Gorgund and the Istiglal. This made the company the dominant market leader in this geographical area, and has displayed the popularity of Aramark’s services across the industry. Indeed, the company’s commitment to the health and safety of its employees and services was recognised in 2006, when Aramark won the RoSPA Scotland trophy ahead of 70 other businesses. This award celebrated the company’s high health and safety achievements, and is added to the awards also won by the company in the hotel and catering industry sector.

Susan Elston, managing director of Aramark, outlines the services and strengths of the company: “The hotel services consist of providing food and catering, housekeeping services, as well as Aramark August 07 bmaintenance within the accommodation. Aramark also provides administrative services, particularly in liaising with helicopters to allocate rooms and bedding. The company focuses on providing all the services you would find in a hotel, for an offshore installation. I think the key strength the company has is that the majority of services provided are undertaken in-house, meaning Aramark has high levels of internal competence. The company employs joiners, electricians, plumbers, as well as having its own architectural design personnel and capabilities. A key part of the company’s success is that it sub-contracts very rarely, and only if the task is above Aramark’s internal abilities.”

The company works closely with customers to provide solutions, which often vary depending on the type of installation, as Susan explains: “Much of what Aramark achieves is based on interaction with clients, creating positive relationships, understanding how they operate, and what their key drivers are. Much of the basic service packages are generic for every operation, but the nature of offshore installations means that change is always required. This means that some operations will require services of different sizes, and the activities that take place on an installation will dictate the scale and different types of personnel the services must cater for. Aramark provides bespoke solutions for individual clients, with special emphasis on the type of installation. For instance, services will differ between fixed installations, and FPSOs, (floating installations) with both having distinctly different operating styles and needs to consider.”

Rather than outsourcing to achieve the high levels of maintenance capabilities Aramark demands, the company has strengthened its internal team. Susan elaborates: “Over the years, as the competence grew within the business, the company was able to provide better services in maintaining and upgrading the accommodation. As a result, Aramark completed a certain amount of outsourcing for these tasks, and it was recognised that the company could probably do a better job itself. Focus was placed on Aramark’s existing resources and the company hired some experienced, competent employees to complete these tasks. This means that Aramark now has its own qualified architectural people, as well as an offshore and onshore maintenance team. This is the department with the largest amount of growth within the business at the moment, recognising that within the offshore industry, installations are aging and their lifespans are far longer than they originally were. Therefore, the accommodation needs more maintenance and upgrades. Aramark has been involved in some major upgrade projects, converting cabins, offices, galleys, and messes, to bring them into the 21st century.”

One of the reasons for the company’s success is the ability to provide bespoke solutions, as well as innovative new services. Susan explains recent successes, as well as the challenges that lie ahead: “One of the biggest completed projects for the company is for Apache, which was a major refurbishment of the accommodation on one of its installations. This required the conversion of large cabins into smaller cabins, and Aramark was able to install the unique three-man bed, which allows a bed to be pulled down, so that individuals don’t have to sleep in someone else’s bed. I think the North Sea has a long-term future ahead of it, but this will constantly change. Just as Aramark has changed in terms of its overall portfolio of services, successful organisations will be those that can adapt to the changing drives within the industry. The company expects to see continued growth, and continued adaptation to the needs of the business.”

Central to adaptation is the development and training of Aramark’s personnel, as Susan comments: “The company has had continuous Investor in People accreditation since 1997, and has been recently re-accredited. One of the key reasons for this is the focus on people training and development, so Aramark has its own ‘competence and training’ programme that identifies the competency requirements at all levels of personnel. This allows the structuring of a training plan, and allows progress to be monitored and observed, making sure the right levels are achieved.”

“I think the future will see continued focus on developing the technical aspects and capabilities of the services Aramark provides, as well as recruiting employees who will be successful within the company,” Susan continues. “Underpinning all of this is the focus on safety, making sure the company operates safely, whilst maintaining the performance levels of its employees. Aramark anticipates growth and the continued search for new contracts, as the North Sea witnesses the entrance of new operators,” she concludes.

Aramark Offshore

Industry: Offshore hotel services