|Photo courtesy of Monica Jansen
Smart Galley Designs (SGD) is not your ordinary kitchen design company, as the galleys they design and build are created especially for a marine environment. And yet, when you speak to Monica Jansen, President of SGD, it’s really all about the people.
Before the design of a new galley starts, a site visit to the vessel is planned to spend time with the chefs and the people in the galley to get a good understanding of the food service processes. From the type of products that are ordered, to stores, to preparation of the food to serving it to the crew. These are all important factors to create an ergonomic design with the right workflow that is safe and efficient and with “nice-to-haves” that create great work environments.
The galley has never been an easy work environment. As they have tended to be mostly an afterthought on past vessel designs, they`ve either been too hot or too cold, or far away from the storage areas. Things such as design logic, ergonomics and workflow have often been overlooked. Yet they are essential to the quality of life onboard the vessel and have to be adapted to the changes in diet and lifestyles of the onboard crew. Galley modernization means a better, healthier workspace, better efficiency, better/healthier menu choices and that directly affects the health and morale of each crew member onboard.
Jansen’s team discovered another important aspect of galley work that had been overlooked: physical size of the workers. When they observed a 6’2” man and a 5’2” woman doing exactly the same task on the same equipment, they realized that in a dangerous marine environment, where you are lifting huge pots of boiling water and wielding big knives on chopping boards, having height-adjustable kitchen components would lead to significant improvements in ergonomics and safety as working height could be adjusted to person and task, preventing workplace related injuries, back and neck problems.
Adjusting workstations to the height and build of the end-users is important as so many women serve on board these days. And as a woman excelling in the marine sector, Jansen can relate to the perseverance and mind-set needed to get where you want to. Originally a trained surgical nurse and owner of a construction company in the Netherlands, when Jansen emigrated to New Brunswick she couldn’t practice her profession. When she met her new partner, a trained chef, she made a new start in Canada when they uncovered the need for a new kind of galley design on ships. She founded Smart Galley Designs in 2017.
After designing and building a prototype for a height adjustable workstation for marine application, SGD was awarded a contract through BCIP to design and install the first, height adjustable, ergonomic galley for the Canadian Coast Guard on a vessel of the Hero-Class in 2020.
Going from designing and manufacturing galley equipment to becoming a turn-key service provider for the CCG for the entire galley was another learning experience for SGD, especially developing relationships with the right sub-contractors on both coasts for this specialized work.
For a small marine company, developing a growth strategy has involved forming partnerships with fabricators such as GOW Group Inc. and fellow Moncton-based Apex Industries Inc. so that they can team together to go after bigger projects, and eventually bridge into commercial shipbuilding and superyachts.
Currently SGD is patenting their height-adjustable Ergo Workstations© for Canada, the United States and Europe, and have assisted on designs outside of Canada.
Membership in CMISA has helped SGD build and expand networks, especially to be more involved in new design. Jansen has so many ideas, and has used her multitasking abilities to harness her company’s growth. Jansen remains focused on the people who benefit from safer and better design. As she points out, “The Canadian Coast Guard and Navy are all about safety -- protecting Canadians, Canadian waters and our international allies and that should include the people that are protecting us.
We are honoured to do work that also protects our own people on board our vessels."