5 questions with VBH’s fleet services director on high-tech superyacht refit projects

Written by Laura Nicholls

As fleet service director, Brian Faerber is one of 160 bright minds that form the team of technology integration specialists at Van Berge Henegouwen (VBH). The company works to ensure that superyacht owners and their guests are able to enjoy the most compelling experience possible onboard. With a range of high-tech solutions for lighting, user interfaces, connectivity and security, VBH has installed their products onboard some of the world’s most spectacular superyachts, including Oceanco’s 90-metre DreAMBoat and DAR, the 140-metre Ocean Victory built by Fincantieri and Feadship’s 110-metre Anna.Anna in AmsterdamPhoto: SuperYacht TimesHaving successfully delivered over 200 superyacht refit and new-build projects, VBH’s reputable portfolio that outnumbers any other company in the industry. From their offices in Amsterdam, Germany, Fort Lauderdale and Antibes, the team currently services approximately 100 superyachts, including eight projects from Amels/Damen, seven Feadship superyachts, four by Heesen and three from the German shipyard, Lürssen. Brian Faerber, fleet services director, VBH By working closely with yard and owner's team, Brian Faerber helps to maintain the company’s consistent success rate and ensure a high attention to detail is given to each and every project, the details of which he shares in a casual conversation with SuperYacht Times. DreAMBoat yacht by Oceanco Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesSo, as we are now in prime-refit season, what refit projects are VBH currently working on? 

Our order book is quite busy at the moment. VBH has 30 years of experience working on the entire lifecycle of superyachts and we have built up the longest track record in the industry. Our team of refit specialists has seen it all! Now we are working on a 140-metre yacht in Germany that requires an AV/IT upgrade, as well as a 100-metre Feadship and an 85-metre Lürssen, who are both receiving updates to their AV systems in Italy. There are two more Feadship yachts being worked on, a 75-metre in France and a 65-metre in the Netherlands, plus we are giving a 65-metre Amels yacht new AV/IT systems. Anna in AmsterdamPhoto: SuperYacht TimesCan you tell us more about VBH’s post-refit services? How does the service work? 

After a new build or refit project is completed, our service team remains in contact with our clients in order to educate them on how to operate their new system and maintain it correctly. Most of our clients are issued with a service level agreement, which we offer as a way of reassuring and giving peace of mind that our onboard systems come with a premium service. Then, together with the yacht’s crew and management organisations, our service department pro-actively keeps the system optimised and working. If an incident or default were to occur, clients with a service level agreement are able to call the VBH 24/7 helpdesks, where the expert team can assist our clients instantly.DAR yacht at anchor of Cala di VolpePhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesWhat is VBH’s planning process during refit projects? At what stage do clients come to you for assistance with their AV/IT systems? 

Most of the time, clients have already consulted us about their project one year in advance and once a plan has been agreed, the team begins engineering the system. It is very common that we have ordered all the required equipment well before the yacht gets into the refit yard location, which is all part of the plan! Our dedicated refit team puts together the equipment with the yacht’s team and the refit yard because we have to consider the short lead times of the yard period. Our refit team most certainly operates with a great can-do mentality and attitude.Van Berge Henegouwe AV/IT servicePhoto: Van Berge HenegouweWhat are some of the biggest challenges VBH has to overcome during refit projects? 

The biggest challenge is working simultaneously alongside the other systems and parts that are being refitted in that same period. For example, if the exterior of the yacht is being painted, often a large part of a yacht is inaccessible which can cause us to lose valuable time. The 140-metre refit is scheduled to be in the yard for five months, but we will wait one month for the cable pulling operation to be completed, perhaps even two months, which leaves the team only three months onboard. This challenge requires a well-thought-out approach as the time factor is very critical and can sometimes be underestimated. Anna mast Photo: Bruno Buisson / SuperYacht TimesWhat does VBH have to look forward to in 2020?

In recognition of the increasing number of superyachts being built in Germany, we have recently opened an office there. We are also investing a lot into our content and connectivity products to ensure our superyachts have the best TV and internet connection available, for example. VBH doesn’t just deliver the system but the content, connection and subscriptions for a full 360-degree experience. 

For more information on VBH and their products, contact the company directly via the information found below.

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