The propulsion experts

SCHOTTEL was founded more than 90 years ago, at first operating as a yard for smaller barges and passenger vessels. In 1950 the SCHOTTEL Rudderpropeller (SRP) was developed and launched, and with this invention SCHOTTEL started to concentrate on the design, development and manufacturing of propulsion systems. The SCHOTTEL Rudderpropeller continuously conquered the shipping world and is now the first choice propulsion system when utmost manoeuvrability is required.

As the company continued to evolve, further propulsion systems were added to the product range, and SCHOTTEL now offers an entire product range necessary for moving a vessel. As Gerhard Jensen, CEO, explains, there remains a focus on manoeuvrability applications: “We have a large number of customers for tugs and offshore vessels that have been our partners for many years,” he began. “But our systems have been adapted continuously to various applications so that we have a great stake in the areas of ferries, passenger vessels and river cruise vessels. We also have other interesting applications in research vessels, river bulk vessels, river tankers and yachts.”

It is clear that SCHOTTEL places a lot of focus on the development of products and at the end of 2013 the company has a new launch planned – the NAV. Gerhard gave some more details about this important development: “The new SCHOTTEL Navigator is a very interesting product that has no comparison on the market. It is a complete outboard unit consisting of an engine and the SCHOTTEL Rudderpropeller as well as the SCHOTTEL steering system. The yard just has to prepare the basement of the vessel and the complete propulsion system can easily be mounted with this unit called NAV. You could call it ‘plug and play’. It is interesting for smaller work vessels and small ferries but also big offshore barges. You can add as many of the NAV as you need, e.g. two at the stern for a ferry or a work vessel or maybe four for big barges (two NAV at each side of the vessel). It has definitely never been easier to motorise a vessel.”

The NAV 200 will be exhibited at Europort in November, and exhibitions are a tool that SCHOTTEL uses frequently to keep in touch with customers: “Europort has been a leading show in the industry for many decades and SCHOTTEL together with a Dutch subsidiary has exhibited there for many years,” Gerhard confirmed. “It is a place to meet important customers and to present news in a familiar atmosphere. So I anticipate Europort will be an excellent opportunity to present the new generation of the NAV to an interested audience.”

The NAV is not the only important new release from SCHOTTEL though. Gerhard was also keen to highlight the new SCHOTTEL Rim Thruster (SRT), which he described as: “The ideal side thruster for OSVs, superyachts and inland water vessels when reduced noise and vibration, high efficiency, savings in space and weight as well as eco-friendliness are key requirements.”

He added: “Furthermore we have expanded and upgraded our SRP series and the series of our electric Combi Drive (SCD) as well as the Transverse Thrusters (STT), the SCHOTTEL Pump Jet (SPJ) and the retractable systems.”

All of these new innovations wouldn’t be possible without ongoing investments in research and development (R&D) and Gerhard confirmed that this was an area to which SCHOTTEL is very dedicated: “Special focus is put on gear design and hydrodynamics using advanced numerical simulation tools,” he added. “We are in very close contact with the most important technical universities and research institutes and undertake tests together with these institutes to develop the best propulsion systems for a vessel under various and adverse circumstances.”

It is clear to see why the strength of its products is one of the key foundation stones of the company, but as Gerhard noted, they have to be supported by a reliable team and excellent customer service in order to create an all round package. “Skilled technicians ensure the optimum commissioning and operation of the systems, so we pay great attention to the best possible training,” he said. “We set great value on skilled engineers and qualify them in what we call dual studies, which is in our company and at university. So they learn our business from scratch.

“We also know that the best product is not worth its price if a manufacturer cannot ensure best quality service,” he added. “So we have done a lot to give our customers the best support when service is needed. We place great value on having the best engineers and technicians in the SCHOTTEL Group, plus we make sure that experts in our propulsion systems staff our service stations all over the world. Moreover, we have a state-of-the-art training centre in Germany, the SCHOTTEL Academy, which means the employees at our service stations undergo in-depth training on how to operate our systems, and we can train customers as well.”

SCHOTTEL is also flexible enough to be able work in close co-operation with the customer to create integrated solutions for specific applications. “We have highly skilled engineers that can develop the best possible concept for the vessel and, if requested, we can develop the propulsion system with the complete power train including the engine or the generator sets. With our customers we develop state-of-the-art eco friendly solutions like hybrid drives or electric propulsion solutions with our electric Combi Drive,” Gehard noted.

“We also attach great importance to keeping a large part of our manufacturing in-house,” he added. “This not only saves time and simplifies business processes, but also safeguards our know-how and ensures consistent high quality.”

The manufacturing facility mentioned by Gerhard is under scrutiny at the moment – after nearly a century of production and growth, the company has outgrown its location: “Our manufacturing sites are no longer what you would call ‘state-of-the-art’, said Gerhard. “The machines are new, of course, but the logistics do not cope with modern standards anymore and are inefficient. The plant is situated in a small village, which doesn’t offer any more space. We are planning to move to a place with a lot of space and the optimum logistics for the complete supply chain. We are creating this new site close to the present one, so we can keep our skilled employees and offer them the most modern working environment in the industry.” Setting the foundation stone for the new manufacturing site and launching the SRT are the major focuses for SCHOTTEL for the rest of 2013.

Considering these ambitious plans, it is clear that the growth at SCHOTTEL is not slowing down. Gerhard also pointed out that more exciting ideas are already on the agenda, this time with further establishing its tidal energy business: “We have noticed a strong interest in our very economic approach of harvesting energy from the sea,” he said. “The first prototypes were sold to customers and we are convinced that in three to five years many of our systems will be working across the world.”

It is not just the tidal products that will be in action across the globe however, as SCHOTTEL’s other products already have a worldwide presence, and Gerhard noted that some markets are currently performing very well: “The Asian markets, mostly the Chinese, are very strong,” he said. “The Americas are doing well too, mainly the US and Canada, but there are many other areas that are seeing success, such as the Russian and the Nordic markets.

“The SCHOTTEL sales and service network is already covering the globe and, of course the most important shipping regions, so we have established strong hubs to cover important regions and provide optimum support to the local sales and service stations. We are also further intensifying our service network in some areas such as the Americas.”

SCHOTTEL is also looking to expand the gears and drives activities of its subsidiary PW (Wolfgang Preinfalk GmbH.) PW is a professional in the whole process of manufacturing gear drives as well as design and production of gearboxes for a wide application range. The PW core objective of being a manufacturer of premium quality products will generate additional growth for SCHOTTEL in the future

SCHOTTEL merged with PW in 2011, and in the company it found a medium-sized partner that stands for continuity based on 90 years of history. The mutual exchange of knowledge and experience will be good for the further development of both partners.

“This gives very good perspectives for both companies,” said Gerhard at the time of the merger. “The venture perfectly meets our motivation to diversify from the maritime sector on the one side while on the other side utilising the potential of the new partnership for our core business.”

Nearly 100 years of innovation have resulted in SCHOTTEL holding a leading market position, but as Gerhard concluded, the company never takes its position for granted. “I would like to thank all our customers for the trust in us and our systems,” he said. “We really value the long-term partnerships we have with many customers, and always work to ensure that we keep their satisfaction at the heart of what we do.”

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