Gerrit Klein on the management of the DUCAM project in Ter Apelkanaal

The DUCAM installation has to be installed and tested before the start of this year’s potato campaign. A large team has been working hard for one and a half year to meet the deadline. In this update, we are pleased to give the floor to the project manager Gerrit Klein, responsible for the Wafilin part of the DUCAM project at Avebe. He likes to describe his work with a metaphor from his favourite sport: Golf.

Gerrit Klein (60), has more than 35 years of experience with mainly large projects in complex situations. He has a proven track record within the industry, especially in the food and beverage sector, as project manager for Heineken and others. After his studies in mechanical engineering and a number of years as an employee, he founded his own company MPM Business Navigators in 1999. Ever since he is working as a project/interim manager and he has the role of the pater familias. This year, the company is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Gerrit Klein’s years of experience and expertise convinced Wafilin that he should be asked to take on the management of the grand-scale and highly complex DUCAM project on behalf of Wafilin.

Strategic partners that strengthen the company
CEO Henk Schonewille explains: “We want to bring and maintain Wafilin in the spotlights by being responsive to all the challenges that cross our way. We can achieve this by focusing on our distinctive strengths and core business. While developing our expertise and skills, we choose to outsource jobs in the areas where we miss specific competences. Therefore we look for strategic partners with specific expertise to bring us to a higher level. At the same time, this enables us to expand and improve our competences and skills”.

Wafilin has been working in close cooperation with Avebe for several years on the development of a membrane filtration system: the DUCAM project. Parties started an extensive on-site pilot project in 2014, using membrane technology to concentrate potato juice. The results of this research were excellent and the business case for a full-scale installation was positive and approved by the Avebe board mid 2018. The DUCAM project was born.

Henk tells: “The integration of our membrane technology within the existing production process at Avebe requires an extremely specialized approach.  The approach of a senior project manager like Gerrit is the best guarantee for the smooth execution of such a challenge. I realized that a project like this might seem quite small to a professional of Gerrit’s calibre, so I was very happy when Gerrit immediately agreed to come on board. We have been working together previously in other large-scale membrane projects, which convinced me that Gerrit was the right man for the job.”

Gerrit Klein is happy to explain his motivation to agree to this challenging assignment: “When I look at the current stage of my career, it occurs to me that it’s important to only take on the interim jobs or projects that I really enjoy. In this case, the challenge was to work with enthusiastic young people who are highly motivated and eager to learn. And the project also offers plenty of interesting technological hurdles. The engineers at Wafilin are highly competent technically, but there are areas for improvement when it comes to communication, such as how to approach customers and suppliers effectively. Every so often when I saw an astonished pair of eyes, I realized that the guys had just learned something new.”

Focus on results
A project manager has the responsibility of maintaining an overall view, while keeping the ultimate goal in mind. Or, as Gerrit puts it: “It’s just like golf. There is only one goal, and that’s to get the ball in the hole. Route one might seem to be the best option, but often you have to take the odd detour to reach your goal. You just have to be observant and accept that things are the way they are. Focus on results!”

Challenges
Gerrit continues: “During the project, we were confronted with various challenges, with technology, with contracts and organization. For example, you have to work together with all kinds of people, from executives to people on the shop floor, and that demands different means of communication. You have to motivate the people you work with to do their utmost and to cooperate with each other.

When you take on a project you have to stay within budget. You have to plan properly, but more importantly, you have to meet the customers expectations. The process itself is secondary and a lot less significant than people think. It only makes sense to follow written procedures when you fully understand them. It’s the project manager’s task to focus on the entire proceedings and to avoid getting lost in details whenever possible. If your eyes are on the big picture, you’ll spot the details that no one else notices and you can take action.

We managed to deliver the installation according to plan, and we’re proud of having accomplished that. We’ re looking forward to the start-up phase, which will begin as soon as the potatoes will be harvested and processed. Then we will get the evidence of the full-scale system effectiveness.

Please click here for more information about Gerrit Klein or MPM Business Navigators. If you would like to know more about this innovative project, please come to Aquatech in Amsterdam during November where we will be offering more information.

Gerrit lives in Veenendaal and is married to Marianne. They have two sons, two daughters-in-law, three grandchildren, another one on the way and a dog. To relax, Gerrit enjoys to play a game of golf with family, friends or business relations.

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