A speedy turnaround

Bremerhaven Dock or ‘Bredo’ is located in the German town of Bremerhaven at the mouth of the River Weser. Well placed for vessel traffic passing through the North Sea, the town has a long history of shipbuilding. Bredo was founded in 1996 and operates from a repair facility that once formed part of new build shipyard SSW, which was forced to close with the decline of the shipping industry. Originally established with just 20 people, the facility now employs 100 staff and has the capacity to increase this to 400 a day if necessary. Bredo maintains a reputation as one of the fastest shipyards in North Europe with 150 ships a year passing through its docks.

The town of Bremerhaven is home to three repair shipyards – Lloyd-Werft, Motorenwerke and Bredo. Dirk Harms, assistant to the managing director of Bredo, explains the benefits of this set-up: “Although on the one hand we are competitors within the shipping repair market, we also operate as a network, using the same sub-contractors and sharing expertise. It is this network that enables us to provide such flexibility in our services because we can call upon individual skills to complete projects.”

Bredo offers a complete repair and conversion service including ship lengthening, installation and modification of equipment, major damage repairs and repair of rudders, propellers, motors and engines. It can also work co-operatively to provide complete new builds. With four docks of varying sizes, Bredo is able to offer its services to small boats weighing up to a tonne all the way up to 12,000 tonne vessels of up to 210 metres in length and 30 metres in breadth. The company also operate its own repair berth and maintenance and assembly halls in the Bremerhaven harbour. A task force group offers customers regular worldwide support for sophisticated repairs and advisory services if technical problems have occurred.

With such a broad range of capabilities, Bredo attracts a varied customer base as Dirk describes: “The majority of our customers are German, Dutch and Scandinavian ship owners. We also deal with large numbers of government ships such as oil pollution and recovery vessels, and ocean and salvage tugs. The port facility management company send dredgers to us and small ships such as pontoons, as our docks mean we can accommodate nearly every size of ship, including the smallest ones.”

This flexibility is one of Bredo’s major strengths, with the company priding itself on its ability to deal with arising issues or extra requests within pre-arranged schedules. Dirk elaborates: “We work seven days a week, 24 hours a day with no surcharges for clients who have work completed during the night shift. This continuous production enables us to turn-around vessels to strict schedules.” One recent example of this speciality was an installation project of a new 100 tonne ramp onto a ro-ro ship, as well as 120 tonnes of additional support structure. Despite the difficult nature of the operation and the number of small structures to install, the project was completed in exactly four weeks as stated in the contract, due to the expertise and adaptability of Bredo’s staff.

Recently Bredo has invested in a new all-purpose workshop of approximately 400 square metres. The company is also planning to build another workshop to the same specifications next year to enable greater flexibility and a separation between engine works and steel structure workshops. Long-term plans include the operation of a larger dock to accommodate ships of Panmax-size of 32.2 metres in breadth, enabling Bredo to increase the range of ships it can provide services to.

Quality of service is a major concern for Bredo and the company has a number of systems in place to ensure these standards stay high. Bredo is certificated by Germanischer Lloyd in Quality Management System ISO 9001:2008. The company is also aware of its environmental responsibilities and works to reduce the impact of its operations, gaining the Environmental Management System certificate ISO 14001:2004. Dirk comments: “We maintain very close relationships with our clients and we regularly monitor customer satisfaction by collecting feedback. Eighty per cent of customers are repeat business, which I think reflects the quality of the work that we do.”

The economic downturn has meant many industries have had to overcome difficulties and for the shipping industry this has meant increased competition within the market. Dirk explains how these challenges have affected Bredo: “Many new build shipyards across Europe have struggled to secure sufficient work and so have begun to move into offering repair services as well. This of course means additional competition for us within the repairs market. However, because of our strong customer relationships and reputation Bredo has continued to be successful.”

Moving ahead, Bredo is keen to remain true to its flexible nature and to continue to develop its service range. Dirk concludes: “The value of the company is in our small size and flexibility. Although we don’t expect any major growth in the market, we do see possibilities in the offshore wind energy farms of the North Sea. These wind farms will require a number of vessels including supply ships to service them, which opens up new opportunities and markets for the company to move into.”

Strong skills network

Flexible services

One of North Europe’s fastest shipyards