More than ever, it is important that the equipment on board performs continuously
An interview with Jeroen Geurts, Vonk’s Handel & Transportmaatschappij
Jeroen Geurts was employed at Vonk’s Handel & Transport Maatschappij in Arnhem 24 years ago. ‘From my years in deepsea shipping, I have known Radio Holland. I used to work with the radio officers on board. Today, I work with RH’s navigation and communication equipment in the inland shipping market. One thing remained the same over time: the equipment is solid and reliable.’
When we speak with Geurts, he is just on board one of his ships. ‘As technical manager, my responsibility is also maintenance and planning, both on our motor barges and on the suction dredger in our dredging and transport company Moorlag. We are mostly active in the extraction and transport of sand and gravel, but now we also transport silt. This is used for the cleaning up of the channels in Germany. You could say we are specialist in transporting bulk cargo in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.’
Building industry picks up again
‘We have noticed that the building industry is more and more active again, which means that we receive a lot of requests for sand and gravel. At the same time we are dealing with shallow water depths in Western Europe, which means we have to sail with limited cargo. We deal with this challenge in a flexible way to help our customers, and our customers know we do so. Now more than ever, it is of great importance that the equipment is operational continuously.
I am happy with the autopilots and depth meters of Radio Zeeland and the VHFs and Radio Holland river radars which we have on board. The equipment always works, and if there is a problem, I can often solve it quickly myself with support via telephone. I work closely with Radio Holland agent Novio Nautic. Marcel Silvius supports me perfect with all technical issues and I am also in regular contact with their manager Joop Bonnikhorst.’
In the inland shipping market we also have to deal with regulations. Mostly in the field of environmental regulations and with regards to navigation equipment. At the moment we are therefore renewing our pilots as the gauges are too small according to the requirements. I have to say that the new Titan 500 autopilot really works fantastically. The only drawback is that in the past you could adjust the potentiometers yourself, now it is all digital and we need technical support for the service program.
Speaking of his past experiences in deepsea shipping, Geurts remembers that they used to have radio-officers on board of Radio Holland. During his traineeship, Geurts sailed on board deepsea ships. ‘They sent messages via morse code. I also knew Paul Smulders, now CEO Europe at Radio Holland, from this trainee period. We flew into Vancouver together to sail on board a vessel for one year. Around 1982 we both did the mechanical engineering training, next to our main education as mate at the Maritime Institute. We had lots of fun together, and learned a lot.’
Geurts is very positive about the future. ‘With the two vessels we recently bought in China, our fleet of 10 ships of 800-2200 tonnes is complete for now. But we are looking at standardisation of navigation and communication equipment, as well as updates with regards to upcoming inspections. I do not intend to switch to other suppliers for this equipment. We know Radio Holland and Novio Nautic very well and they know us. And we are very satisfied with the Radio Holland quality.’