Of sun­shine in a storm


The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - ENERGY -

Wood Group has spent the past two years de-brand­ing it­self, shed­ding its lay­ers like an onion.

It’s a process chief ex­ec­u­tive Robin Wat­son em­barked on to re­veal over­shad­owed func­tions.

“If you take Mustang for ex­am­ple,” Mr Wat­son said.

“In­evitably, there was a lot of pride in Mustang in do­ing light­weight and top­sides. Our au­to­ma­tion busi­ness we’ve got in our spe­cial­ist area there was hid­den.

“It was a fab­u­lous busi­ness, but no one over talked about Wood Group au­to­ma­tion.

“The Kenny brand was associated with sub­sea, but it ac­tu­ally did a whole heap of dig­i­tal, soft­ware and as­set in­tegrity so­lu­tions that was al­most deaf­ened by sub­sea, be­cause ev­ery­one in the out­side world saw Kenny as sub­sea.”

Au­to­ma­tion has since been one of Wood Group’s strong­est per­form­ers in the past 18 months.

The ser­vice firm has also spent record amounts on in­no­va­tion.

“We have in­vested more in the last two years with our seed fund­ing in tech­nol­ogy re­lated so­lu­tions than Wood Group ever has in the past,” he said.

“What we tended to do was ac­quire a tech­nol­ogy and put the cap­i­tal be­hind it. The key thing is hav­ing the tech­nol­ogy and the do­main knowl­edge. We’ve done a lot more in the past two years in bring­ing our dig­i­tal so­lu­tions peo­ple to­gether with our op­er­a­tions peo­ple. We tend to have the IBMs of the world com­ing to us be­cause they just don’t have the do­main knowl­edge.

“It’s like hav­ing the For­mula 1 en­gine but no chas­sis, body or ex­pe­ri­ence driv­ing the car. It’s about bring­ing the two to­gether.

“The last two ac­qui­si­tions we’ve made in au­to­ma­tion are in the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor. We pro­gramme the ro­bots at Jaguar Land Rover. We pro­gramme the in­di­vid­ual ro­bots, but what we then do is the sym­phony that gets the ro­bots in­ter­act­ing to­gether.

“We are also the largest in­de­pen­dent au­to­ma­tion con­trac­tor for Tesla. That’s quite an ac­co­lade.”

The stretch Wood Group has mus­tered over the past two years is where Mr Wat­son takes the most pride.

He added: “There we are as a Scot­tish or UK com­pany fly­ing the flag and not hav­ing to have the in­dige­nous trade to do it. That sec­tor broad­en­ing is some­thing that re­ally ex­cites me. It’s good pay­ing jobs with good ca­reer prospects.”

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