Interview Jakob Boelens

Eye on the End Goal

Jakob Boelens, CEO, MaxGrip

MaxGrip’s software and services help to build safer working environments and a safer society. We help our customers foresee the unforeseen – to rely more on prevention rather than on quick fixes. For many years, we have been providing practical guidance to our clients, helping them meet and maintain their desired level of compliance.

It goes without saying that the work we do is complex, and so are the industries we operate in. But at the end of the day we need to deliver solutions that are simple and that our clients are willing to work with. Keeping things simple helps our clients to stay focused on the heart of the matter, and delivering solutions our clients are willing to work with enhances the chances of getting the desired results. For our customers, financial results count – and so does saving lives. We help prevent both capital and human loss by making the value of prevention visible. Because we envision a world where accidents due to asset failure, do not happen.

Our journey, our story

For me, the MaxGrip story began long before I co-founded the company. In 1988, when I was still a student, the world was shocked by the explosion of the Piper Alpha oil platform off the coast of Aberdeen in 1988. Many workers died, and financial losses were in the billions. This incident seared itself into my mind. There was the terrible loss of life and the sad thing was, that after numerous analyzes, it became clear that this incident just didn’t need to happen. It could have been prevented. But still, no one saw it coming.
Later, after years of experience in the field and with the Piper Alpha incident in the back of my mind, the MaxGrip seed was planted. I was determined to make sure these kind of disasters would no longer happen. Precisely by making preventability visible. Traditionally, we tend to reward the people that  solve incidents. But in my view, we have to work towards a situation where we reward those who prevent them in the first place. And that’s a key part of what MaxGrip is doing: we show our customers the value, in real terms, of prevention.

Making it visible

Same thing with reliability: MaxGrips makes reliability – or the lack of it – visible. That way, we can shape the standards that must be met in, for instance, complex installations. Greater reliability means less uncertainty, improved safety, greater efficiency and productivity, and higher profits.

Rethinking prevention: culture over compliance

Even now, companies still focus on fixing something after it has broken, rather than focusing on preventing it from breaking in the first place. Again, this can cost a lot of money and lead to dangerous situations. So we need to change how we think about prevention. We need to rethink procedures, and we must also embed a culture of prevention, in stead of just focusing on compliance. It’s about replacing habits – good ones with bad ones.

Communication is key

Sadly, the Piper Alpha disaster was largely caused by a failure to communicate, combined with failing operating mechanisms, inefficient safety measures and a lack of the right maintenance procedures. If there is one thing we can learn from the accident, it is that effective communication is vital. At MaxGrip, we realize that technical staff speaks a different language than managers do. They might, for instance, find it difficult to translate their technical knowledge into understandable information. We make the logical connection between tools, techniques, methods and people. We help bring in a shared mind-set. That way, the right people make the right decision at the right time.

Same goal, more control

We see many clients struggling to control their assets. And at times, their assets even control them. This is where our software and services come in. And most importantly, our valuable content. These elements of our solutions strengthen each other, working towards the same goal. WHAT AND HOW they do it are different, but WHY they do it is the same. Our APM solutions are fully embedded in our customers’ Enterprise Asset Management systems, making processes simpler and efficient for the end user.

Taking a step back

Still, some companies don’t ask themselves basic questions like: “Why do we have this process in the first place? Does it contribute to the overall goal?” That’s why at MaxGrip we often say: “Let’s take a step back. All the way back.” Because only then, we can get a clear overview of the existing work and maintenance processes. Together with our customers, we review and assess those processes. Based on these findings, combined with the specific business goals and requirements, we’ll design a software solution that is fit for that particular organization, now and in the future.

Making it happen

Of course, many of our  customers do see the value of simplicity, visibility and reliability—but still struggle with how to make it happen. We’re there to guide them through the whole process. First of all, we practice what we preach: we run our business in the same ways as we recommend to our customers. Secondly, we work hard. And we won’t stop until the job is done. At the same time, we embrace the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality. Because we believe that a strong social bond and the spirit of a collective drive is what makes the job fun. Hard work therefore goes hand in hand with the company of good playtime. Thirdly, we’re ambitious. We push back the limits of the possible. Proving the impossible wrong is in our DNA. Finally, the solutions we offer are smart. They have to be, because by offering world class business solutions to our customers across many industries, all over the world, we have become the front runner in the world of APM.

Keeping the end goal in mind

In everything we do, we always keep the end goal in  mind – and we encourage our customers to do the same, even as they see to the details, too. It’s never just about turning in this or that data sheet. It’s about contributing to a safer industry and a safer world.