Propelling success

That Piening Propeller has earned a reputation as a leading designer and manufacturer of ship propulsion systems is hardly surprising when you consider the company’s rich history. Dating back 85 years to 1928, Otto Piening founded the company as a machine locksmith workshop for motorbikes, but its first propeller repair was carried out for a local fisherman soon after. Prior to this, Piening had not decided to make a dedicated move into the area, however following the success of the work the company made the decision to work with ship propulsion in the following years. This serendipitous event would go on to reflect a dedicated can-do approach to meeting customers’ needs that continues to characterise the company today.

Since its inception Piening Propeller has grown considerably and is now able to offer comprehensive ship propulsion solutions including a full package of systems, propellers and steering gears with shaft brackets. The company’s power package is a full propulsion system, which can be integrated into a vessel’s structure, providing an excellent solution for new ships. Catering also to existing vessels and systems, Piening Propeller is able to offer an expansive range of repair services and supply spare parts. Many of these repair contracts come from the busy shipping industry whereas new builds tend to be from niche markets like mega yachts, naval vessels, coast guard boats and research ships where the high level of quality that Piening Propeller can guarantee is required.

Powering the company forward is a winning blend of flexibility, experience and expertise. Having entered the commercial shipping market in 1929 the company boasts over 80 years of experience and is dedicated to making sure that the competence and knowledge that come with these years is retained within the business. Managing director and share holder Mathias Pein, who represents the third generation of this families company, elaborates: “We train all of our workers ourselves and we do not rent any contractors. All of our workers are fully in-house and in some cases have been working with the company for 20-30 years. This allows us to deliver the high quality expected by our customers in more demanding markets like mega yachts and defense.”

Having grown steadily over the years the company now employs over 65 dedicated and highly skilled staff. This allows it to offer flexible service options to its customers, which has proven vital in establishing real relationships with clients and retaining long-term business. “This is our target,” Mathias begins. “We are not looking for customers who will approach us looking for a single cheap price. We are focused on long-term relationships. Equally, coming from the other direction we hear from customers that they are happier to work with us rather than larger companies, as the larger companies tend to move or change their people. This means that the level of quality cannot be guaranteed. With us they know that they are always dealing with the same people and can really feel confident.”

Every propeller supplied by Piening is custom designed to meet the requirements of its intended vessel. “If you are looking for efficiency, to run as smoothly and silently or for non-cavitating propellers these are requirements we address at the design stage,” Mathias explains.

“For example, if you have a high speed boat or a yacht that shall sail as silently as possible, we have seven bladed propellers and similarly for other vessel types we are able to look at the sailing profile of the ship, how much the ship is running and in what conditions. These are all important areas that we consider in designing our propellers,” he observes.

Supporting its design applications, Piening Propeller is proud to incorporate ZF gearboxes into its propulsion systems. “It is quite important for us to select the right gearbox ratio from the beginning, because we can design or even pre-calibrate propellers for the RPM which works best, then see how it fits with other gearbox ratios to get a range of performance data to provide fully optimised propulsion systems,” Mathias explains.

Complementing its design and production services, Piening Propeller operates a dedicated repair and maintenance department. All of the company’s workshops are run in accordance to the necessary class of certification, which apply to production, repair work and welding as well as other areas. Of equal importance is its commitment to developing new products and considering new areas of business. Recently, the company has developed a range of thrust bearings, to be part of the stern gear. The goal is optimal performance and efficiency, which is something that has been achieved with prototype models of new systems running already.

At present the company is servicing a number of contracts for rescue vessels and actively seeking further contracts for vessels belonging to Germany’s authorities. It is a competitive market, however, with its proven track record of uncompromising quality and impressive portfolio of previous custom Piening Propeller is well placed to win new business in the coming months. As it looks to the future, the company is keen to grow its workforce from around 65 to 70-75 workers and to further develop its pristine reputation as a world-class provider of ship propulsion systems.

Custom designed propellers
Ship propulsion systems
Dedicated repair solutions