Propelled to the front

Schramm Group is a holding company for 21 subsidiaries that are engaged in the operation of ports and ships, concept consultation, and the design, engineering and construction of marine components. With an extensive history in ship and port management, the company has remained a mid-sized yet fully dedicated business driven by trustworthiness and high quality services. It has recently designed an innovative new propulsion system that has already begun generating interest across the globe.

At the core of Schramm Group’s business are the five ports that it is responsible for, three of which are entirely under the ownership of the company and the other two under its management. The three ports under its ownership are located in the north German town of Brunsbüttel, each focused on a different operation; a port handling oil refinery products, a chemical cargo port, and a port for multipurpose goods including dry cargo and hazardous materials. Combined, these ports have an annual turnover of ten million tonnes, making Brunsbüttel the sixth largest port in Germany.

The Group’s fleet running operation includes tugboats, cargo vessels and technical ships that belong both to clients and the company itself; it includes a cable-laying barge, pontoons, and two innovative tugboats designed by the Group that have already been launched. The third avenue of business is consultation, which the company undertakes in partnership with the holding daughter NavConsult. Hans Helmut Schramm, managing director, explains his company’s role in the partnership: “For the offshore windmill industry we deliver logistical concepts and put our own engineers in the field to oversee construction. We also give the engineers a single point of contact so they can arrange ships, transport, crewing and other necessities.”

Over the last two years, design has come to the forefront of the Group’s business with innovative products that have generated interest within the industry. There have been two major undertakings in this sector; two new eco-friendly tugboats and a new boat propulsion system. Hans elaborates on the short history of the Group’s two tugboats: “We started designing them for our own fleets, and because we are in parts of the North Sea which are some of the most highly protected in the world, they were specially designed to function in habitat conservation areas.”

He continues: “When we first built the tugboats, we received a call from Chevron International who are involved in the Gorgon Project, a gas field in Australia that is the largest ever found. For this they wanted very clean ships and although we are a very small company they looked all over the world and came to us after hearing about our tugboats. The two prototype vessels were chartered for six years and have just arrived in Australia to begin operation.”

The other major design Schramm is currently producing is its Torque Marine propulsion system. Capable of power up to 4500 kilowatts per shaft, where it stands out from traditional systems is in the flexibility offered. For example, whilst diesel gearbox and diesel-electric systems have a minimum rotations per minute (RPM) limit of 120 RPM and 80 to 100 RPM respectively, the Torque Marine is able to achieve speeds as low as one RPM because it uses a constant magnetic motor. Furthermore, because speed is determined directly from the amount of power put in, a gearbox is no longer necessary therefore making it far more fuel-efficient.

Hans illustrates the advantages this gives: “The latest results show that on inland water vessels there is a guaranteed fuel saving of 29 per cent. For tugs it is even greater. Because they only need power when pulling another ship, 90 per cent of the time it doesn’t need any at all and therefore wastes a lot of energy. With the Torque Marine, we find tugboats have up to 60 per cent savings on fuel. We believe this will be a very big topic of discussion over the next few years.”

After three years of development, the Torque Marine is currently being prototyped and Schramm Group is taking bids from five major companies for a partnership role in its further development and marketing.

The future for the company as a whole looks equally positive. With its propulsion and boat designs generating interest among some of the biggest names in the industry, and a new project to expand its Brunsbüttel port with coal plants and larger cranes, Schramm Group is on the ascent.

Concluding, Hans sees bright prospects for the future: “Across Europe there will become an increasing amount of educated people that are able to handle offshore windfarm projects. Therefore I think we have a big chance as a medium-sized company to fit the needs of the big companies, putting our engineers in the right place at the right time.”

Designed unique tugboat propulsion system

Involved in world’s largest gas field

Works directly with customers rather than through agents