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Protecting the Protectors

6 May 2022

Protecting the Protectors

Transporting 20-tonne sections of concrete guard towers to remote environments around the world – and constructing them in hostile situations – requires an unusual level of protection, as well as expert logistics.

Paul Gaston, Director at Dynasystems, describes a few of the challenges his teams regularly face.

“Dynasystems is a global company producing a wide range of integrated Blast & Ballistic, Entry Control, Hostile Vehicle and Forced Entry mitigation products and systems. That covers things like guard towers, protective walls and barriers and entry gates designed to withstand a blast from a terrorist attack or create a location that can be defended from armed insurgency.

“We’re experts at working in locations where others find it too difficult or dangerous to operate.”

“We’re part of the Exsel group of companies, which has been delivering products and services to clients all over the world for well over 20 years.

“Much of our success has been the ability to deliver and support our products in hostile environments. Basically, we’re experts at working in locations where others find it too difficult or dangerous to operate.

“Typically our products are installed in military and civilian locations which include headquarters, embassies, diplomatic missions, airports, critical infrastructure installations and other iconic buildings.

“… there may be people in the vicinity who don’t want you to finish what you’re doing.”

"By nature of our business, these are generally located in places where they might be considered a target for terrorists or other violent incursions, which makes an already challenging logistics operation doubly complex.

"Imagine constructing guard towers and protective barriers, knowing that there may be people in the vicinity who don’t want you to finish what you’re doing.

“We have to get our products halfway around the world.”

“Of course, construction is only half of the challenge. We have to get our products halfway around the world first!

“It has always been imperative to choose the right logistics partner as well as having appropriate and robust insurance cover in place for when things don’t go quite to plan.

"Experience has taught us that to succeed in many challenging environments it is often preferable to partner directly with local companies who understand the physical, geographical, and cultural barriers we may face. The ability to communicate with such companies in ‘real time’ can often be mission critical and has been a major contributing factor to successful operations. If you use contractors from outside the country you are working in, they may underestimate the time it will take to get things done. They may not know that monsoons make roads impassable at certain times of the year. And they may not understand any local sensitivities involved.

“In Afghanistan… we had to deflate the truck tyres… in order to get it through.”

“Resourcefulness has certainly been the key word when transporting goods in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Often this has meant using less ‘conventional’ methods than one might see on the roads in the UK.

"For example, approaching road tunnels in Afghanistan on one project, we found we had to deflate the truck tyres to lower the height of a large payload in order to get it through. A perilous activity when transporting high value and mission critical cargo in highly dangerous places.

“That scenario was repeated many times as we transported Dynatowers to numerous locations within Afghanistan as part of a large United States Army contract to equip many of their Forward Operating Bases.

“… working in the Southern Highland Region of Papua New Guinea.”

“Another particularly challenging project was working in the Southern Highland Region of Papua New Guinea. The client, an international oil and gas company, required a number of Guard Towers to be constructed in an area of land that had literally just been cleared in the jungle.

“As well as the logistics of transporting our DUCS Tower kits all the way from our UK fabrication facility to the project site, we also had to train a local workforce on the construction techniques of the towers.

With a high degree of patience and careful management by our own deployed teams, the work was completed to a high standard and on time."

“We have suffered loss of life and destruction of cargo…”

"This ‘can-do’ attitude and an ability to perform contracts with a high level of professionalism in some of the world’s trouble spots has given Dynasystems our enviable reputation. We have people all around the world, ready to get up and deploy for a week, a month, or even a year to manage projects and ensure that they happen smoothly and effectively.

“Of course, not all shipments have a positive conclusion. Attacks by the Taliban on truck convoys in Afghanistan meant that we have suffered loss of life and destruction of cargo. The importance of having an insurer on board that not only understands the logistical challenges, but also has the agility to react when incidents arise, has been an important part of our success.”

Paul Gaston is a Director of Dynasystems, based in London and Worcester in the UK. 

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