Van Leeuwen
Quality standards are high at Van Leeuwen

Quality standards are high at Van Leeuwen

Jan KroonJan Kroon,
Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube, Zwijndrecht

For many years, the Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group has supplied shipyards in the Netherlands with tubes, flanges and fittings. We also supply materials to various piping companies who work as subcontractors in the shipbuilding industry. In this blog I will tell you about the specific demands of our customers in this market and how we respond to those demands.

I have worked at Van Leeuwen’s commercial department for many years and over the course of time, I specialized in the maritime industry. Van Leeuwen excels in delivering quality and although our products can be purchased at many mills, we uphold very high standards when it comes to product quality. In order to reach that level of quality, we operate using an Approved Manufacturers List (AML). If a supplier is unable to meet our quality requirements, we are obliged not to purchase any products from that supplier. In other words, when we promise to deliver quality, we mean it and our customers know that.

Quick response

Tubes, fittings and flanges used in shipbuilding are usually varnished to add a temporary protection against rust. It’s fine to use those tubes for other projects. However, I know from experience that my customers in shipbuilding prefer untreated materials. For that reason, we keep stock of untreated materials, especially for them. This saves customers time and money, because there is no need to shotblast the materials before delivery. Instead, they are immediately ready to be processed.

I am not afraid to say that we have a unique assortment of products in stock for the shipbuilding industry. The only way to achieve and maintain that unique position in the market is to be in frequent personal contact with customers. I enjoy transforming the wishes of our customers to practical solutions.

Thousands of sizes

To give an example, I recently wrapped up an order for a shipyard which had to make adjustments to 10 ships in order to comply with certain laws. We just finished the order for the first ship. When we start working on the next ship, we will restart the entire process and focus on finding the optimal solution. This works much better than purchasing materials for all 10 ships at once, which makes you less flexible and makes adding small alterations at a later stage more difficult. Thanks to our well established contacts with the suppliers on our AML, we are able to use this workflow.

We also have thousands of sizes of tube and other components in our stock, so we can deal with unexpected repairs. A ship contains many different materials for many different applications. Take, for instance, fuel pipes, ballast and flange pipes, jet water pipes, bow thruster pipes, spud poles and railings. We can supply tube materials for all those parts from our stock and we have a special range of so called “bending” tubes. A ship’s engine room is usually pretty cramped and filled with pipelines. For this purpose, special flexible tubes according to BS 3059 are used. The material quality of these pipes allows bending over a very sharp angle, making them very suitable for small spaces.

Obsolete sizes in stock

Furthermore, we have decided to refill our stock with slow moving sizes of seamless heavy wall tubes. After all, when a ship needs repairs, it could be 20 or 30 years old and require sizes which were common at the time. They often are very difficult to find, except, of course, in our warehouse. The same goes for flanges. When a customer needs an uncommon type of flange, we discuss if we should take it back in our stock. I'm also involved in this aspect of our marketing strategy.


I've noticed an increasing demand in our market for certified materials. This mainly concerns orders for 3.2 certificates. I advise my customers about this subject almost every day, as well as “upgrading” a 3.1 certificate. This is a service we also provide, in cooperation with a certification company of the customer's choosing, like Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd or any other. In these cases, additional tests will be conducted to find out if the material can meet the required extra standards. Some companies have never had to deal with these procedures before. Thanks to my experience and asking the right questions, I can show them the way.

This month, we will participate in the Maritime Industry trade fair in Gorinchem, a 3-day event in the Netherlands for the shipbuilding industry. I meet many of my customers there, so, like every year, I'm looking forward to it!



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