Mariska Rooijakkers didn’t imagine herself working in the offshore industry after finishing university. Nine years ago, she graduated in Industrial Design Engineering at the TU Delft and Ampelmann could really use her skills. When she joined, the company was a lot smaller than it is now. She truly enjoyed her first few months and realised she was here to stay.
Over the years, the company has grown and while some core aspects have stayed the same, many things have changed. Back when the company consisted of around 30 employees, everyone had a large variety of tasks and responsibilities. This was also true for Mariska who gained a lot of experience and found her place at Ampelmann. She is part of the Innovations department where she is Manager of the Concept Design team.
One aspect of the company that hasn’t changed, though, is Ampelmann’s focus on innovation. “It is part of the company’s identity,” Mariska says. Because of this mindset, the company frequently brings new innovations to the market, and these go from design to final product relatively fast.
“Back when I started at Ampelmann, we brought new products to the market even faster, which was very exciting and educational, and provided me with a lot of valuable experience. Nowadays our process is even more thorough but still relatively quick, which is rewarding and energising.”
As Manager Concept Design, Mariska contributes to the growth of the company every day. Over the years, she has introduced new talent to the team and guided them through the design process. This year, the team of engineers has focussed on developing new skills outside their expertise. With skills and knowledge in different disciplines, team members become more resourceful engineers who improve the process of innovation.
Mariska explains the main challenge of the design process she and her team are involved with is “finding and maintaining the right balance in the level of detail of design to ensure rapid development, while minimising the risk of failure during the next development phases.”
Designing innovations for the offshore industry is complex because of the many stakeholders involved and every stakeholder has their own set of requirements. An important part of the job of the Manager Concept Design is to take all of them into account. The team has to consider all users, including the client and operators, but also processes the product goes through such as maintenance and production. “In design, compromises always have to be made and it is an art to find the optimal balance to make sure all stakeholders get what they need.”
Currently, Mariska and her team are looking into the possibilities of modular design, an exciting but challenging prospect. “It is a complex question, and instead of looking at one product we are looking at our entire portfolio,” she says. The team looks for similarities between different products to find components they can standardise while leaving room for customisation. The goal is to enable future innovations at a relatively low cost.
Modular design will keep Ampelmann’s portfolio broad and the company will continue to offer a variety of systems. Additionally, it will enable it to easily make customisations to suit every client’s needs.
Another part of Ampelmann’s identity that has stayed the same during the company’s growth is its positive attitude. Mariska especially enjoys the way she and her colleagues treat difficulties: “they are seen as possibilities, opportunities for new products or improvements,” she says.
As a result, Mariska receives ideas, requests for improvements and other feedback from all over the company. Operators, clients and maintenance engineers, are all valuable sources of information that can drive Mariska and her team to an innovation. Therefore, she is often in touch with colleagues and clients all over the industry. This way opportunities will continue to arise and Ampelmann will continue to innovate.