A strong heritage

Drahtseilwerk GmbH has earned a steadfast reputation for providing first-class ropes for a variety of market applications for close to 80 years. Since it was last featured in Shipping and Marine magazine during 2012 it has shown no signs of slowing down, making further developments and investments in the interim period. Indeed, over the past 12 months Drahtseilwerk has weathered the challenges faced by the wider shipping sector and consolidated its position within the shipping, container handling and other specialist markets.

Based in Bremerhaven and in operation since 1934, the company has worked in a number of markets and accrued a wealth of experience. Its first operations centered on the production of fishing ropes at a time when its Bremerhaven location was home to continental Europe’s largest fishing port. Today, this has all changed and Drahtseilwerk has diversified into operating primarily in shipping, across a variety of sectors and the container handling market. Paramount to the company’s ability to do this has been its dedication to developing new products that have spearheaded its move into new areas.

For example, its TRIFLEX rope has enabled the company to provide a reliable solution for heavy lifting cranes, as sales director Thomas Wolff elaborates: “Within shipping and cargo we are adapting to the industry’s needs for example, formerly ships would normally have a lot of low capacity cranes and crane gear on board with standard ropes employed. But now we are seeing more specialised cranes so we have developed a special crane rope called TRIFLEX to better serve the industry.”

Historically, Drahtseilwerk could produce rotation resistant ropes of up to 42mm, but the investment into a new machine means that it can now create ropes of up to 58mm max, which have a minimum breaking load of 340 metric tons and a length of up to 1000m.

“This has become a very important addition to our portfolio and represents a relatively recent development, with installation of the equipment finishing earlier this year and operation beginning at the end of July,” said Thomas. “We still have another machine for six or eight strand ropes of up to 84mm and 26 tonnes weight capability of one rope.”

In addition to TRIFLEX Drahtseilwerk has enjoyed great success with its DURA-Winchline, DURA-Float and its long time stalwart ATLAS ropes. “We have been producing the ATLAS Mooring rope for many, many years, which still sets a standard within the shipping industry for mooring ropes, and we see that despite the crisis in some parts of the shipping industry we have been lucky to see customers go on with our product, because they know what they are getting,” Thomas explains. “Customers see that the price may initially be relatively a little more expensive but given the product’s long lifetime it becomes a cheaper product in the end and this is something that they recognise. So within the shipping sector this product is still going strong.”

The ATLAS rope was first developed during the 1960’s in conjunction with Bayer AG. Its construction is made up of Perlon wires and yarn that give it its incredibly strong body while maintaining a level of flexibility that makes the rope an ideal choice for mooring solutions. These targeted properties are what have earned the ATLAS range its reputation as an industry standard in maritime applications.

Drahtseilwerk’s DURA range is constructed to follow the same principles and has helped propel the company into new markets in recent years. The German cruise company AIDA has recently adopted DURA-Float ropes, which are designed to float on the surface of the water rather than sink, for all of its new builds. Older vessels will be outfitted with the new ropes when their current ropes are renewed. This represents a significant order for Drahtseilwerk and a source of strong future business. Between its ATLAS, DURA and other lines the company has provided high quality ropes for deck cranes, lifeboat falls, RO-RO hanging decks and other vessel applications. It has also found applications with the container handling market in both land based and seaborne operations.

While the company’s selection of ropes have found a solid range of applications and a host of appreciative customers, it can sometimes be difficult to convince buyers in some markets of the benefits of paying a little more for a quality product. As Thomas highlights: “It is not always so easy within the shipping market to gauge the work hours of ropes, in contrast for land uses such a container handling it is easier because obviously operators can keep track of how many containers they have moved, so it is possible to get an idea of the product’s working life. But of course, over time shipping operators do start to see problems with things like mooring lines and at that point they decide that these problems were encountered with other ropes and that is why they opt to go back to using ATLAS ropes.”

As Drahtseilwerk moves into the future it is committed to continuing to develop its products and maintaining its uncompromisingly high levels of quality. The company ensures that all of its raw materials are sourced from trusted European wire mills so that its ropes are of a high quality at every stage. One of its most recent developments comes in the form of a coating for steel wires called BEZINAL3000. At present the company has completed a number of tests on the coating and found that it has great potential for the shipping market in that it offers significant resistance against corrosion. Drahtseilwerk is set to implement this, alongside a range of future developments in conjunction with its strong product portfolio, to power the company long into the future.

High strength, rotation-resistant ropes
Versatile market application
Dedicated development programme