Charles Sinunu: Delivering customized dredging solutions globally

DSCDSC Dredge LLC plays a dominant role in the dredge manufacturing industry, built on a platform of extreme commitment to its customers through engineering customization to meet their specific application needs. They are proud of their long heritage and dominant position in the industry and its management takes this commitment to the customer very seriously. The Director of International sales of the organisation, Mr. Charles Sinunu who brought the first dredge equipment to Nigeria and have been coming to Nigeria since 1982 spoke on the prospects and challenges of the dredge industry in this interview with Nnamdi Nwokolo.

WHAT has been your experience working in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a challenging country with fantastic opportunities and great potentials. I have high hopes for the future of the country because things are improving from what they used to be some years back. The greatest challenge that still remains is the time spent in getting equipment out of the port and securing low cost financing to purchase capital equipment. Getting the right equipment for assembly is also challenging and cranes from China do not always lift what they are rated to lift. These are some of the things you have to work your way through.

Do you find fulfillment working in Nigeria?
It’s been quite satisfying, in the sense that I’ve seen the country grow as well as see our equipment being used in many projects. DSC Dredges have been used in many projects that have helped the country like building new roads, land reclamation to turn swamps into land that can be developed and of course sand mining. A few years ago the US embassy did a study of the potential of dredges in Nigeria and even with the many dredges in the country from the US, Europe and even from China, the report said the amount of dredges in the country represents less than 10% of the dredges that are needed to do all the projects.

What is your assessment of the industry in Nigeria?
The Nigerian dredge industry has come a long way although it’s been populated by small dredges. The ones that are being sold by some organisations today are the same designs that were sold 25years ago. Technology has come a long way; I believe the Nigerian market is moving towards larger dredges that have more current day technology. DSC has the major market share for mining dredges in the USA due to our technology, service, warranty and spare parts policy. DSC Dredges have the ability for remote viewing and the PLC system can be updated from the US. We have the ability to provide our owners with remote viewing so they can see the dredge controls in their office or home. With the owner’s permission, we can also remote view the dredge in real time from our factory in the USA and we can even remote control the dredge from the USA. This saves time and money. If there is ever a problem, we have the ability to check in and find the issue and take action. We can even have the dredge send an SMS to the dredge owner or Chief Engineer to let them know it is time to do maintenance such as changing oil or filters. Technology makes our lives more productive and DSC Dredges are the most productive and lowest cost of operation around. Nigerian dredge owners have two holes in their pockets; fuel loss and sand loss. With our dredges you know exactly how much fuel was used per hour, per day, per week, etc and with our production meter system you will know how much sand was produced.

Unique Selling Point of your dredges:

Our biggest competitive advantage besides our PLC controls and technology is our spare parts policy. We are the only company that gives our customers the ability to purchase spare parts for their DSC dredge anywhere they want. Our competition replaces the OEM spare part number with their own part number and this forces the dredge owner to have only one source of spares which is on the other side of the world. This will cause a dredge to be down for weeks or months waiting on parts from overseas. DSC dredge spares are in the market in Nigeria, so if you need a part you can get it and be back in operation the same day. Our spare parts policy is of tremendous advantage to our customers. Throughout the many years of its history, DSC’s customer-centric approach to the dredging market has focused on building strong, long-lasting relationships with its customers. Many of our employees have been with the company for 20-30 years, and the solid work ethics instilled keep the company in its premium market position. The reputation of the entire team is built on this commitment to the customer and its dedication to delivering a superior product and outstanding service after the sale. Together, the entire team focuses on meeting the dredging needs of its many loyal customers in more than 48 countries all over the world. DSC Dredge is the only US dredge manufacturer who has been awarded both the Presidents “E”-Award and the Presidents “E”- Star Award, the highest award for excellence in exports from the US Department of Commerce.

You mentioned bringing the first dredge into the country, have you had government patronage?
The first DSC dredge I was involved was around 2004/2005, we sold a new 20”X20” Shark Class dredge to Ibile holdings, under the Lagos State Government. The dredge was financed using the US EXIM bank loan guarantee programme. That was the biggest and most powerful dredge in the country at the time and it is still working perfectly today. and it also has our PLC controls. Over the years, DSC has developed a dominant role in the dredge manufacturing industry, and we pride ourselves as “A World Leader in Customized Dredging Solutions.” We have earned this title with our hands-on philosophy and commitment to our customers. DSC believes each dredge is a work of art that is designed specifically for a particular application. Our goal is to tailor each dredge to our customer’s specified requirements and customize the dredge to the type of work for which it will be used.

Effects of technology on dredges:
We are a forward looking company as all our dredges from the smallest to the largest are designed for a one man operation. All our dredges from 12” to 36” have PLC touch screen control which is standard, and every year we improve on that. We can provide updates to the PLC as needed and as we make improvements, just like getting an update on your laptop. The controls we have in our dredges make the operator more efficient, more productive and more profitable for the owners. It is like the modern day cars where your check engine light comes up if there’s an issue; it’s the same thing with our dredges. If there’s a problem with our dredges, the operator only needs to touch a button and it will tell him where the problem lies. The other thing with our PLC controls is that we are there with you 24/7. All our dredges have remote viewing capability, a situation where you have a problem, you can give us a call and we’ll look at your service in real time. Where it persists we can ask the operator to remove his hand from the screen and we can remote control it from the US.

What are the cost benefits of acquiring your dredge?
Our dredges are known for having the lowest cost of operation. They have the highest efficiency. In the USA for example, there’s a reason why we have a huge backlog and why our customers are willing to wait for a year for the delivery of a DSC dredge whereas others have 15 in stock. This fact speaks for itself. We currently have a new custom designed 24”X24” DSC Marlin Class dredge at the port in Tin Can and a new custom 18”X18” Marlin Class dredge at Houston port being loaded for delivery to Tin Can for Japaul Oil & Maritime PLC, both dredges feature a 23m digging depth with two pumps. They will be the most powerful dredges owned by a Nigerian company in the area. DSC customers are the who’s who in the dredging industry in Nigeria including Japaul Plc. They’ve been our customer for more than ten years and there’s a reason why the No. 1 dredge company in the country, the only dredge company that is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the only dredge company that has received the gold medal award from Shell for excellence in projects is a repeat customer. Land Dredging, Azikel Dredging and many others are also all repeat clients. They are growing their business and coming back to buy more dredges.
uture projections:
Our customers keep bringing us new challenges; we specialize in customization of standard dredges. We have a standard line of dredges but I would say 90-95% of our dredges are customized to meet client’s specific project requirements. We had a customer in the US recently who required a dredge that can cut 60m deep. That has never been done before and we delivered a fantastic customized dredge that can dig 60m deep and it is working perfectly. I don’t know if it’s a world record but it is a record in our hemisphere. Even with oil prices down, DSC has supplied customized dredges to Shell for operations in Canada. We were the only ones that met the stringent requirements of Shell. In the last 60 days we booked 9 new dredge orders. Yes, you may have to wait for delivery but the wait is very worthwhile and most profitable.

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