Brothers David and Paul Jones established their Liverpool business – Offshore Painting Services (OPS) – in 2010 and for the first four years they barely had a day off.
Since then, OPS has grown to become a leading provider of complete corrosion protection and composite blade inspection and repairs to the renewable energy sector in particular, specialising in high specification coatings and rope-access blade repairs along with rope-access solutions within facilities management.
The UK wind industry has seen significant developments with bigger turbines on bigger windfarms situated further offshore. Paul said: “When building these windfarms installation vessels alone can cost around 250,000 euros per day, so operations don’t stop – it is seven-days per week, so we adapt to fit with this.
“At the start there was just David and I working from a little office in Crosby, so we had to plan our time carefully to ensure there was constant daily cover – even over Christmas.”
This was a huge commitment and one which ultimately paid off. From the new head office situated close to Aintree Racecourse, OPS now employs a highly-specialised team of around 45 technicians and has successfully completed more than 150 projects on over 4,000 assets across four continents, including throughout the UK, Europe and Africa, for a diverse range of customers.
They include large blue-chip international companies to local land-owners and have worked on most of the UK offshore windfarms and many more onshore.
This success was recognised earlier this year at the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2018, when the company scooped the coveted ‘SME of the Year’ Award, an accolade which was proudly accepted by both David, as managing director, and Paul, as operations director, as they took centre stage at the award ceremony.
In 2016 OPS added a state-of-the-art training centre to its’ portfolio of services, offering an extensive range of industry-wide vocational and bespoke training courses and is now accredited to some of the industries leading trade authorities including Global Wind Organisation (GWO), for Basic Safety modules such as Working at Height, First Aid, Manual Handling, Fire Awareness and Sea Survival; IRATA for rope-access; ICATS and Train the Painter for corrosion protection.
Further accreditation will include ECITB, CCNSG and their own unique, bespoke Composite Blade Repair training facility in the coming weeks.
Paul added: “We get interest from a variety of sources, from experienced technicians to those seeking a career within the industry, from individuals looking to improve their skill-set to corporate clients, including many of the big names within the renewables sector.
“People come from all over the UK as well as much further afield, to experience the training facility, whether to re-new and re-validate their existing certificates or to obtain additional qualifications; we have established ourselves as one of the best providers of specialist training within the industry.”
The idea for OPS came about while Paul, whose background is as a vehicle painter, was working at a harbourside port in North Wales, which services a number of windfarms off the North Wales coast. He quickly built working relationships with a major international windfarm operator and soon began working on a 160-turbine windfarm off North Wales.
Paul explained: “When you are repairing and painting a wind turbine it has to be done properly. The turbines operate out at sea in some of the harshest conditions and are expected to last for 25 years.
“We are involved in the installation of wind turbines and other assets; once they are installed we do repair work and maintenance. As you can imagine, factors such as the wind, rain and sea tides all impact upon the structure and how it works. When painting a turbine it is not just a case of putting on one coat of paint, it requires a more thorough approach including specific thickness of paint when applied.”
The Paris targets on decarbonisation means offshore wind continues to grow globally and OPS is ideally placed to capitalise on this growth. From its’ offices in Liverpool and Grimsby, OPS is able to quickly mobilise resources, people and equipment, aided by a dedicated back-office team consisting of project managers, HSQE, HR and admin personnel. OPS has acquired a reputation for quality, safety and customer satisfaction, supported by an in-house quality assurance system independently accredited to ISO 9001:2015 and 14001:2015.
Paul added: “What we do is very specialised; we are not a one-stop-shop for everything. We perform very specific tasks to a high quality; our reputation for quality, safety and service has been earned and is one we are proud to have achieved.
“We now operate in a global market, providing our services at an international level worldwide; we employ local people and are passionate about what we do, supporting the local economy. We are proud of our Merseyside heritage, our reputation and our achievement of becoming a major player within the offshore industry.”