Do we really need paint consultants?
In America, and for small projects in general, the purpose and value of paint consultants is frequently called into question. Kay Wrede agrees, but, as he explains here, there's more to it.…
Many refit and new construction projects are undertaken without the aid of specialist paint consultancy. It appears to work too, leaving the owner’s representative or captain as sole supervisor.
Of course projects are possible without a consultant. If the construction schedule progresses perfectly, with no difficulties, modifications or changes in the tradespeople etc., then a paint consultant is really surplus to requirements.
But, in practice, the paint consultant’s specialist expertise is needed more often than not. Only very few owners’ representatives are actually capable of dealing with the complexity of the tasks with which we are confronted as paint consultants.
Competent consultants come from a practical background and listen carefully to the shipyards, designers, equipment suppliers and paint manufacturers.
This involves providing solutions for the usual difficulties, but also for completely new problems such as those posed by new material combinations or particularly daring designs.
The surveyors at Wrede Consulting do not regard themselves as rivals to the owner’s representative, but rather as the next link in the chain of production, as Roger Becker, senior consultant at Wrede Consulting, explains. “On a new build project, we talk to the different representatives involved, including the designers, construction personnel and outfitting department about how the design and different features influence the coating process," he says. "We discuss possible changes when experience suggests they would benefit the build project. We prefer to be seen as added support to a project’s production chain regardless of who we are working for. Communication is one of the most important parts of a successful project; this also entails spending a great deal of time on the project to ensure a successful process is followed. As a team we at Wrede are always looking at new ideas and ways of improving how we can work more productively to benefit our client’s needs.”
For final acceptance, a list of the work that is still required is normally drawn up. In coatings, the items usually amount to less than one percent of the total area. This procedure avoids a situation in which the overall paint job cannot be accepted, thereby delaying the vessel’s handover. Only well-trained coating experts should make such a distinction.
Shaun Pyne, another senior consultant, explains the company stance. “A paint consultant needs to be able to cover the complete process from specification, contractual obligations and application up to delivery. He provides expertise during the definition of the paint specification; he inspects the surface preparation and coating layers as they are applied to ensure everything is done correctly; he checks that the documentation is complete and signed off; and provides support to all parties to ensure everything is in place for a smooth final acceptance.
“This requires not just expertise, but also a high level of interpersonal skills. Consultants need to be able to handle conflict and dissonance, to moderate and mitigate, but also to assert themselves where necessary.”
In his field of expertise, the paint consultant can function as a buffer who acts as a shield for the owner’s representative, the yard or the applicator (depending on the situation) and moves to re-establish mutual understanding. He flags the status of the project. Ideally, he helps prevent mistakes and problems. If problems arise, it is his job to point out remedies and provide expert support.
“Of course, practical experience helps us to manage expectations. It is our job to communicate the limits of what can be achieved, to prevent over-optimism and avoid disappointments”, Jon Kendall, senior consultant at Wrede Consulting, concludes.
It’s at this stage that it becomes clear that a paint consultant should be far more than just someone who simply classifies the outer skin as good or bad.
All parties involved – above all the client and future owner, who has invested a great deal of money in his yacht – have the right to the support of specialists who not only identify problems, but also offer practical solutions.
Pictured above: Kay Wrede.
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