Roped in

Having been in steel rope for more than 80 years, Drahtseilwerk GmbH is an expert in delivering durable, high quality to its customers.

It was established in 1934 when parent company and wire manufacturer Vom Hofe purchased a plaited rope factory located in Bremerhaven. Here Vom Hofe developed Drahtseilwerk to be its presence in the maritime sector, at first in the fishing industry but today throughout harbours, shipping, fishing, and offshore. The company’s commitment to quality and innovation has been essential to its longevity.

“Drahtseilwerk produces ropes for all types of ships and marine applications,” says managing director Joachim Pahl. “We manufacture highly sophisticated ropes for deck cranes, lifeboat falls, RO-RO hanging decks, and other vessel applications. There are also many products for land-based roles too including harbour cranes, container ports, and mooring. We work with major lines and ports. German company AIDA Cruises has recently adopted the DURAfloat ropes, which float at the surface of the water rather than sinking, for example. Containers, Ferries and RO-RO ships are also big users of our ATLAS rope and winch lines.”

Developed in the 1960s in conjunction with Bayer AG, theATLAS rope is made of Perlon wires and yarn to give it an incredibly strong yet flexible body that makes it ideal for mooring. The quality has made it a standard in the industry.

The DURA-Winchline is produced to the same principle. The range of options available for any rope including ATLAS is immense because Drahtseilwerk believes in working with the customer to meet the demands of their situation. That means standard ropes are available in sizes between 0.9 and 84 millimetres made from uncoated, stainless, galvanised, heavy galvanised, Galfan-coated or nonmagnetic steel wire and specialised fibres respectively.

In 2011 the company’s manufacturing facilities underwent a series of upgrades to improve the selection and quality of Drahtseilwerk’s portfolio. Joachim elaborates: “There is ongoing development of course but what happened last year is that we acquired and installed a big closing machine for large ship or offshore crane ropes, meaning ropes of considerably wider diameters and heavier in weight can be specially produced. The general six- and eight-strand ropes however remain at 84 millimetre maximum diameter and 25 tonnes maximum lift weight.”

Last year also saw Drahtseilwerk delivering innovative new ropes to the Port of Hamburg. The application was in straddle carriers at the port, which are essential to the transporting of carriers from ship to dock. Because of their importance in the logistic chain, it is essential that the carriers experience as little downtime as possible. Drahtseilwerk’s solution was delivered last summer with the promise of 8000 hours problem-free functioning. As the benchmark hour approaches, the ropes have so far stayed true to their promise.

As this illustrates, Drahtseilwerk undertakes its own research and development to meet the growing and unique demands of clients. This process takes place in-house and brings together the people on the workshop floor, designers, and clients in order to produce an end product that has practical purpose in the market. Drahtseilwerk also works on developing non-rope products as well. For example, it worked with a lubricant manufacturer to create an enduring rope grease that is resistant to heat and rain, therefore giving it a longer working lifecycle.

Innovation and quality have been two parts of Drahtseilwerk’s success through the years. Today this is joined by the efficiency by which it can manufacture ropes. Speed and quality have been essential in making the company stand out during unpredictable times. “There are always ups and downs in the market and at the moment we feel shipping is not that buoyant,” Joachim says. “Many users are looking for cheaper solutions that we cannot provide without compromising quality. To tackle this, we have been providing value added services by, for example, talking with customers to explain the pros and cons of our different types of ropes. We also maintain a large stock of products so we can supply next day, or else use our facilities to produce new ropes within a relatively short time. This has been our recipe for years and I don’t see any change in that formula in the near future.”

He continues, looking forward to the future: “Being a German producer, quality is of course first and foremost. Nobody will accept a cheap rope with bad quality from us. It begins with the design of the rope and the choice of raw material. Steps of 0.025 millimetres are used to give it the best properties possible, whilst all of our raw materials are bought from recognised west European wire makers. Our rate of claims is very low. Good choices in design and material care supported by a skilled workforce, many of who have been with us for many years now. Together, they are the key to the ongoing success of Drahtseilwerk.”

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