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LR to Chinese yards: 'focus on quality!'

Shanghai: With global shipbuilding capacity set to eclipse 50m compensated gross tons next year, classification society Lloyd's Register is urging global shipbuilders and suppliers to keep the quality of the new vessels as their priority.

Comments made at the 7th annual meeting of Lloyd's Register Asia's China National Committee (CNC), highlighted concerns about the number of inexperienced yards entering the market and the growing pressure to find increasingly scarce skilled workers. In particular, there was fear that a downturn in quality would reach beyond the industry to adversely impact on the overall 'Made in China' brand.

The issue of quality is particularly a concern as an estimated 30% of the 160m dwt Chinese order book at the end of last year had been reportedly contracted to yards that have yet to build a ship

Zhang Guangqin, president of the China Association of National Shipbuilding Industry, said with the appreciation of the Yuan, rising interest rates, and surging raw material and labour costs already threatening to curb the global appetite for new ships, any slip in shipbuilding quality could bring an end to the current demand cycle.

"Quality issues are the best excuses for ship owners to stop ordering and, with so many challenges emerging for the yards to manage, strengthening quality management should be the most urgent and important task," Zhang told delegates in Sanya, Hainan Island. "This year needs to be the Year of Quality for China's marine industries."

To combat quality issues, Lloyd's Register will have spent $1.4m in 2007-08 to provide the facilities and people for external training courses, including 2,900 man-days to 1,200 delegates from more than 50 companies in China since September. The society also plans to launch a non-fee earning Technical Performance Group (TPG) in August.  [11/06/08]

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