Founded in 1921, the SCHOTTEL Group, headquartered in Spay/Rhine, has been developing and manufacturing azimuth propulsion and maneuvering systems, complete propulsion systems with power ratings of up to 30 MW, and steering systems for vessels of all sizes and types, for about 60 years.
We met up with them at this year’s SMM Hamburg conference where they reported a strong demand for their products.
Despite a slight drop in sales, SCHOTTEL Group’s turnover has stabilized at a high level of €230 million in a difficult shipbuilding market. Totalling 1006 employees, the workforce passed the thousand mark as at 31 December 2011 – due above all to the acquisition of the German gearbox manufacturer Wolfgang Preinfalk GmbH (PW).
The sales of €142 million achieved in the first six months of 2012 confirm the prevailing trend and strengthen SCHOTTEL in its confidence of meeting its targets for growth. For the overall business year of 2012, the SCHOTTEL Group anticipates sales of €300 million.
The balance of completed systems is also looking very positive. Production figures for smaller azimuth thrusters have increased slightly as compared with the previous year. Controllable-pitch propeller systems registered a decrease.
Strong presence in the offshore market
Besides the core business in the tug and ferry market, a large proportion of the SCHOTTEL Group’s overall turnover again came from special thrusters for platform supply vessels (PSV), offshore support vessels (OSV), jack-up platforms and other special-purpose vessels.
Besides the high demands placed on these thrusters with regard to economic efficiency, availability and robustness, this market segment is also characterized by requirements relating to the emission values of the propulsion system, high operational reliability with prevention of oil leakages and the resulting damage to the environment, and the criteria of the classification societies for clean design and high comfort.
With the SCHOTTEL Combi Drive (SCD), SCHOTTEL offers a high-efficiency, compact, extremely robust thruster which completely fulfils all of these requirements.
Consolidation of leading position in the tug market
In 2011, SCHOTTEL continued to play its traditionally prominent role as a supplier of tug propulsion and steering systems and to further strengthen it particularly in the area of green ship technology. Groundbreaking projects in this context were the equipment of the Svitzer ECOTUG® with the electric SCHOTTEL Combi Drive and the conversion of Kotug’s RT Adriaan, originally equipped with a direct diesel drive, to a hybrid tug implementing SCHOTTEL technology. It is plainly evident that shipping companies will continue to rely on this expertise in the future – whether for newbuildings or when modernizing their fleets.
Powerful further development of After Sales Service
Further optimizations were implemented in the area of spare parts logistics and a lot was invested in the spare parts availability. In the world’s major shipping centres new spare parts depots were established and service locations opened worldwide in order to provide ship operators anywhere the necessary round-the-clock support. At the SCHOTTEL Academy the program for advanced training of customers and staff of the service stations as well as SCHOTTEL employees was continuously expanded.
Strengthening of the core business
The ongoing good market position and its status as an independent company allow SCHOTTEL to reinvest considerable funds from Group profits in the core business and thus to operate successfully in the long term. To start with, this concerns the areas of research and development: the range of large mechanical and electric azimuth thrusters (SRP, STP and SCD), for example, has been continuously modernized and expanded in recent years and a five-blade controllable-pitch propeller (SCP) with high power density has been launched on the market. An electric SCHOTTEL Rim Thruster (SRT) will also be unveiled at SMM. Furthermore, SCHOTTEL has purchased a 9 hectare site near the company headquarters in order to build a production facility meeting the highest requirements for efficient, state-of-the-art manufacturing and also allowing the production of larger systems and volumes. Improved inbound and outbound logistics additionally makes an important contribution to optimizing the supply chain.
Expanding into new markets
The first step towards tapping new markets was taken with the founding of the Josef Becker Research Centre in 2010. The purchase of 40% of the shares in the British company TidalStream Ltd. in 2011 marked SCHOTTEL’s entry into the tidal energy sector. Tidal power plants are being jointly developed, tested and, in the near future, also implemented. Incorporating highly efficient, German-made SCHOTTEL turbines and mobile, easy-to-install and maintain platforms, they represent solutions that are as yet unrivalled in the field of tidal energy.
By taking over the German gearbox manufacturer Wolfgang Preinfalk GmbH (PW) in 2011, SCHOTTEL expanded its activities beyond marine propulsion engineering. This offers potential for pushing the company’s successful development even further ahead and benefiting from synergies in the area of propulsion systems. Over more than 30 years, PW has gained an excellent reputation in the development and manufacture of transmissions and gearing for nearly all industrial sectors.
By expanding into new business segments, SCHOTTEL is strengthening its long-term position in the traditional core business of marine propulsion systems and opening new perspectives for the entire SCHOTTEL Group.