Grinding discs, detergents, gas meters and CCTV cameras. The International Marine Purchasing Association’s (IMPA) catalogue is as thick as a bible and covers everything that needs to be taken onboard. But the quality of the products often varies depending on where and who you order from.
“When you order, you usually get the things that the country in question has to offer. There is no guarantee it is the standard you expected,” says Mikael Andersson, work environment officer at the Swedish Transport Agency.
Purchases may need to be made at any time during a sea voyage. The extensive IMPA catalogue has everything from gloves and spare parts to detergents, household appliances, gas meters and CCTV cameras. Purchasing in foreign ports is often cheaper than ordering in Sweden, but the quality can vary a great deal between different suppliers.
“For example, if you order an adjustable spanner in Singapore it is probably not a Bahco, and a tool that breaks can lead to injuries. This is very much a safety issue and something we must be aware of,” says Mikael Andersson.
Mikael Selenius operates a chandler store, City Shipchandler, from basement premises in Årsta Partihallar in Stockholm. “It is a matter of course to be careful about the quality of what is supplied to vessels,” he says.
”Only the cheapest”
“These days it is only the cheapest that sells – everybody checks prices the whole time. But we have good products in Sweden, even if you choose something that is less expensive.”
He says he rarely hears of chandlers who send poor quality products to ships, but adds that it probably happens. He believes that you should be aware of pricing.
“A Swedish ship that used to buy basmati rice in Poland called up and asked if 60 crowns a kilo was really reasonable. ”No, absolutely not,” I said. “You shouldn’t pay more than 20 crowns.” But I do understand that it is difficult to keep track of the prices of all purchases to be made.”
Mikael Andersson realises that ships are sometimes forced to buy in foreign ports, but believes that it is better to stick to suppliers you know well as often as possible.
“Then you know that you get good quality,” he says.