A different cup of tea
It's a paradox of our industry: there's hunger for innovation, but few willing to champion it. MDL CEO Derek Smith takes a view on the "first to be second" approach to new technology - over a cup of tea...
It’s tough to be innovative.
It’s not so much the coming up with new ideas; it’s finding a champion willing to be the first - that’s the tricky bit.
The oil and gas industry has pioneered some fabulous technology over the decades, but the adoption process of “something new” has always been slow; too slow to address the major correction happening in our industry today, one could argue.
Although the sector has been calling for more innovative approaches to processes and operations, the prevailing attitude is still “first to be second”.
So, what is an innovative company to do, to bring its offering to the market? Let’s start with making a cup of tea.
You will probably be using an electric kettle: and what an iconic invention that is! It enhanced our daily tea and coffee making process so much…
But, if you think about it, whose idea was it: to mix water and electricity? And who on Earth approved such a thing…?
After all, there was the traditional, tried and tested stove-top version, so simple to use: you just stick it on top, and let it do the job.
Someone quite clever came up with the idea of a whistle for the spout, to announce the water was ready - but that wasn’t the game changer.
The true inventor was the person who said: “Let’s stick an electric element and a switch into this pot of water.”
Now, I’m sure there were plenty of heads shaking, and executive voices saying: “We’ve tried mixing water and electricity before. It didn’t end well. This ‘invention’ is not for us.”
And yet, by the end of the 19th century the electric kettle made its debut on the British market, from where it grew to its current fame.
Even though history has not named the exact person behind the invention, I can imagine their journey to success being similar to that of a truly innovative company in the oil and gas industry today.
On the one hand, we have a real drive for innovation and change; on the other, there are but a few influencers willing to pioneer it. Because, who wants to be the first company to trial a kettle with a plug?
While the focus is on (assumed) associated risks, the actual benefits go unnoticed:
- the fact that the kettle is fully automated (less man power required to operate it and lesser chance of human error);
- that it will only work for as long as it takes to boil the water (increased efficiency)
- or that it will switch off automatically, without wasting any more power or evaporating water (reduced costs).
Some seem to believe the clever approach is to avoid the risk, and just stick to the tried and tested technology.
But, in fact, the truly clever people are those who recognise the risks, take a view on them, and understand how they can be mitigated.
As the electric kettle shows us, new ways can be safe, but they do pose a challenge: they require a commitment to make the change, and incorporate it into life - which also applies to business.
Those who refuse to grasp new technology are choosing the risk-free path; but also - ironically - closing the door on huge potential savings.
With innovation written into our DNA, MDL has a few success stories to tell like-minded companies - and I’d happily share those with you over a cup of tea.
Derek Smith, CEO
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- Leading the way in subsea innovationMarch 2018
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- Hitting the 150Te markJanuary 2018
- Maritime Developments Year in Review: 2017January 2018
- MDL sets up equipment base in GoM with DelmarDecember 2017
- MDL maximises focus in the AmericasDecember 2017
- A helping hand across the SeaNovember 2017
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- Oceaneering adds MDL 800Te RDS to global fleetOctober 2017
- Safe as MDLAugust 2017
- Calculated MovesMay 2017
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- MDL Spread concludes Trinidad jobApril 2017
- Turning the frown upside down at ExpoFebruary 2017
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- Contract award brings MDL tensioner to APACJanuary 2017
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- New system redefines global tensioner marketSeptember 2016
- MDL Spread hits anniversary milestoneSeptember 2016
- Latest rental RDS completes first missionJuly 2016
- Asking the right questionsJune 2016
- MDL launches innovative well intervention systemMay 2016
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- An ex-Captain’s perspectiveFebruary 2016
- MDL opens door in AmericaFebruary 2016
- Subsea Expo 2016: Inspiring smart conversationsFebruary 2016
- That's one New Year's resolution worth sticking toJanuary 2016
- Subsea Expo 2016: MDL powers up flex-lay costs reductionJanuary 2016
- Maritime Developments Year in Review: 2015December 2015
- Mission accomplished for MDL PVLSNovember 2015
- Maritime Rentals fleet continues to growOctober 2015
- Maritime Developments' first PVLS sets sailSeptember 2015
- Selling value: The toughest challenge with supply chainSeptember 2015
- Let their hair down: Investment that pays backJuly 2015
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- Cutting costs: Why we’re all in it togetherJune 2015
- Looking hot this summerJune 2015
- Innovation: Speaking the same languageMay 2015
- Final winch order ready for early pickupMay 2015
- Latest reel drive system steals the spotlightApril 2015
- The Budget: A step in the right directionMarch 2015
- Maritime Developments seals 15th anniversary with first VLS orderFebruary 2015
- Smart thinking at Subsea Expo: It all figuresFebruary 2015
- Bespoke tensioner boosts Maritime Developments’ rental fleetJanuary 2015
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- Third winch package tips electrical delivery over £12millionJanuary 2015
- Maritime Developments Year in Review: 2014January 2015
- MDL celebrates 15th Christmas with magical fundraiserDecember 2014
- MDL extends competitive edge with electrical pushNovember 2014
- Key appointment boosts Maritime
Developments’ electrical divisionNovember 2014
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- Major winch delivery ahead of scheduleSeptember 2014
- £1,000 raised for RNLI at Maritime Developments’ eventSeptember 2014
- Patent protection secured for Maritime Developments’ tensionerSeptember 2014
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- Maritime Developments at Subsea Expo 2014April 2014
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- Largest contract to date for MDLApril 2014
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- Bright future for subsea specialistMarch 2014
- ‘Next Generation’ Tensioner designMarch 2013
- Increased capacity at Aberdeen and PeterheadMarch 2013
- Paul Lawrie swings by MDL stand at Subsea 2013February 2013
- Maritime Developments appoints Operations DirectorSeptember 2012
- Maritime Developments appoints Commercial DirectorJune 2012
- Maritime Developments continued expansionMay 2012
- Fast-track US contract delivered on timeApril 2012
- £1.7m contract from international subsea businessApril 2012
- Maritime Developments exhibits at Subsea 2012 in AberdeenFebruary 2012