“Uudenkaupunging Työvene Oy (Uki Workboat) was established in 1987 with a line of activity in planning and building workboats and small vessels,” introduces the company’s managing director Harri Putro. “Since then the company and its production range has expanded to include more than just workboats and small vessels. Today we build bigger boats including fishery patrol ships, offshore patrol vessels and even ferries.”
The state-of-the-art site Uki Workboat uses is based in Uusikaupunki, at the heart of Finland’s Baltic coastline. Here the company owns facilities including a 3500 square metre steel workshop, 1300 square metre aluminium workshop, 530 square metre outfitting workshop, and nearly 2000 square metres of sheltered storage space. It also has outfitting, piping and carpentry facilities across 2300 square metres, and a 400 square metre paint shop that means every aspect of boat production can be carried out in-house. Its 400 metre quay is installed with two 20 tonne cranes. Boats of up to 30 metres can be constructed indoors whilst outside provides enough space for ships up to 100 metres in length.
In the 25 years since it began, Uki Workboat has successfully delivered over 200 vessels. One of its most recent was for an Estonian client. “The 62 metre ship is designed for border patrol services, oil recovery, and icebreaking,” Harri says. “It is designed to operate in Estonian territorial waters all year round and be able to withstand all weathers. The hull is made of steel but it has an aluminium superstructure, giving it a light weight that means the two Wärtsilä 8L20 engines achieve a maximum speed of 15 knots. It has also received ice class 1A.”
He continues, talking about two ferries currently being built by the yard: “The client is the Southwest Finland’s Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. Both ferries are meant for regular scheduled traffic on inland waterways all year round. They will move independently but are guided by a wire but during winter time, when driving through an icy channel, the wire will not be needed. The main task of the vessels is the transportation of vehicles and people and has a minimum carrying capacity of 150 tonnes, or approximately 24 cars. It will be delivered at the end of 2012.”
The variety of these two projects is an example of the diversity of Uki Workboat’s skills and just one of many reasons it continues to be successful today. When asked why the company was able to secure these two projects, Harri explained that a reputation for being reliable and trustworthiness drove the bid toward success. Because it was able to offer an economical and functional plan for the designs – something that defines the yard’s work – clients in both projects put their trust in Uki Workboat.
Both ferries and the multipurpose pollution control vessel are bespoke designs, in line with Uki Workboat’s general ethic. “Most of our ships are custom builds,” says Harri. “The wishes of each client are taken into consideration and no two ships are ever similar to each other. Each time, even when building several similar ships for one client - like the two Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment ferries – there are differences the client usually wants to implement.” With everything carried out beneath one roof, and with the use of cutting edge 3D design software, the yard takes to this approach with ease.
All of the Uki Workboat’s activity is carried out under the quality assurance guidelines as laid out by a number of classification societies including ISO 9001, Nordic Boat Standard (NBS), Det Norske Veritas, Lloyd’s Register, Germanischer Lloyd (GL) and Bureau Veritas. With these the client can be assured that an Uki Workboat vessel has received care and attention at every stage of the process.
Many ship owners are looking toward the Far East to produce particularly large vessels at a lower cost. For the European boatbuilding industry, this means many yards are beginning to look at niche vessel types to continue their business. For Uki Workboat, however, having been in niche vessel construction for 25 years, it has the history and experience to place it at the forefront of building workboats. This is why orders with the company have remained upbeat despite an otherwise troubled market. “Our business is developing normally, especially when considering the world economic situation,” Harri points out. “The economic recession has of course caused some slow down in demand and amount of inquiries but we remain happy with our business so far.”
Already in a good position both geographically and within the market, the future holds many prospects for Uki Workboat. Harri concludes with confidence in what the future holds for the company: “We are good at building patrol boats and coastal patrol vessels, having delivered several custom builds to EU countries and receiving good feedback. Over the next few years we will continue focusing on these strengths and hopefully widen our market share.”