Malm Orstad - When the going gets tough...

What is Malm Orstad's background and its main areas of activity?

Idar Vassbø: Malm Orstad is an independent contractor specialising in the mechanical sector of the oil and gas industry. The company's main areas are engineering, machining, welding, hydraulics, assembly and testing.

Established in 1946, the company used to produce equipment for the agriculture sector, but, as new markets emerged, Malm Orstad had to find new business areas in which to thrive. In the mid-1980s, the oil industry was booming in Norway and the company started to look into this trade as a possibility for business. That was definitely a success and Malm Orstad has for many years now been working exclusively for the oil and gas industry.

The company offers a complete package solution to simplify projects and provide a single point of contact. With 145 highly qualified employees, Malm Orstad has a very flexible organisation, enabling it to carry out larger, complex projects.

Its main market is in Norway, but export to other countries has increased in the last few years and, today, the company exports approximately 30% of turnaround to countries like Angola, Brazil, China, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, Turkmenistan, the UK and the US.

What would you say oil and gas customers are looking for at present?

Today, our oil and gas customers from all over the world are looking for new technology, competence, experience and knowledge to solve various kinds of challenging tasks within drilling, subsea and oil production.

What are some of the most challenging tasks customers ask you to solve?

I can't tell you much about what we actually do for customers - our work is too commercially sensitive. But I am more than happy to tell you about our fantastic team of engineers. With a combination of theoretical understanding and practical know-how, they make solving the most complex problems a daily event. Once a solution is identified, they work closely with the production department on its application - a process that goes all the way from initial concept to finished product. When the engineering gets tough, oil companies from all over the world come to us for an answer and it's our engineers who find it.

There is a shortage of engineers in Norway. How is the company addressing this challenge?

We have been very successful in hiring engineers for years now, and many are still knocking on our door asking to work here. We believe this is connected to our business concept: engineers get the opportunity to design and construct sophisticated equipment, following products through the complete fabrication and testing process, all in cooperation with the client. In our opinion, this is the way to address this challenge, and it also creates the best engineers for the future.

Malm Orstad has recently acquired a new workshop. What can you tell us about it?

The new workshop contains almost all of our production lines - CNC turning machines, CNC milling machines, lathes, measuring machines for QC, assembly and testing - all planned and built for efficient production.

How do you intend to grow the company in the future?

We shall be true to the business concept and make sure that we always have the right people, knowledge and technology to meet the demanding future.

Another key factor is our own products, which we design, produce and deliver directly to our clients. I can mention products such as the tensioning system for marine risers; guideline wires, MUX cables and tether management systems for ROVs; and ROV shackles for subsea operations.

How do you stand out from competitors, particularly those in other countries, which may have cheaper manufacturing costs?

The business concept is clearly our advantage; with knowledge, expertise and smart thinking, we compete with cheaper countries. I'm not saying it is easy but our staff are well prepared and ready to take action with a high focus on prices and lead times.

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