2021 is a special year for SCHOTTEL: the 21st November marks the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding by Josef Becker. The trained locksmith opened his workshop in a small German village on the Rhine and almost 30 years later he wrote shipping history by inventing the rudder propeller that is steerable through 360 degrees.
Stefan Kaul, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SCHOTTEL GmbH: “Bold decisions at the right time”
“Our history is marked by bold decisions at the right time and having the courage to take bigger and bigger steps. Josef Becker laid the foundation for this in 1921. Since then, SCHOTTEL has grown continuously with the development, production and sales of marine propulsion systems. Today, our propulsion solutions have made the seven seas their home. What we do, we do wholeheartedly: in all areas, according to the same high standard, all over the world.”
The company’s beginnings
After Josef Becker establishes the workshop “J. Becker Maschinenbau-Werkstätte” in November 1921, he builds and repairs machines for the local farmers. In 1925, a move from land to water takes place: he develops the sloop, a dinghy that is unsinkable due to large, permanently installed air boxes and can be rowed and turned easily. Only a few years later, Josef Becker designs and constructs various motorboats, at that time still a novelty on the Rhine. To meet the growing need for space, a shipyard is built in 1934 on a nearby plot of land at Rhine kilometre 578.4 – the river section known as Schottel.
A classic ship propulsion system: the rudder propeller
At the end of the 1940s, Josef Becker starts testing a propulsion system that will revolutionize shipping: the SCHOTTEL RudderPropeller. As a starting point for his ideas, he takes the well-known outboard drive. He finds the solution by using a Z-drive without a separate rudder blade but with a propeller that can be steered 360 degrees around its own axis without any restrictions. This is the first time that steering and propulsion have been combined and vessels benefit from the full power of the units during manoeuvring. With this invention, he paves the way for the company’s future. Domestic and foreign orders start pouring in quick succession. In 1967, SCHOTTEL equips the Janus: the first harbour tug with rudder propellers. It sets off a revolution in the push and tug boat market.
Internationalization from 1958
At the same time, the internationalization of the company progresses. In 1958, SCHOTTEL Netherlands is founded as the first subsidiary abroad, followed by more than a dozen others worldwide. Today, SCHOTTEL is represented in all of the world’s key shipping centers. The workforce is growing, too: starting with a first apprentice in July 1922, the international SCHOTTEL Group currently employs around 850 people.
Tugs, ferries, offshore vessels
Time and again, SCHOTTEL provides the answer to current needs of the maritime industry by means of newly developed propulsion solutions. Besides the global tugboat market, in which SCHOTTEL was able to secure dominance at an early stage, the company equips numerous ferries. At the end of the 1990s, new developments for the ferry market enabled the move from the harbour basin to the high seas. During the offshore boom, which will continue until 2015, the company secures a 20 percent market share in the offshore supply vessel segment.
Expansion of production capacities: Wismar and Dörth
In 1998, SCHOTTEL takes over the company Wismarer Propeller und Maschinenbau GmbH (WPM), thereby expanding its product range to include controllable pitch propellers up to 30 MW. In addition, retractable as well as particularly large SRP units are manufactured in Wismar today.
When the founding location in Spay no longer offered any room for expansion, a new production site was opened in nearby Dörth in 2015. There, the traditionally high vertical range of manufacture can be expanded and the production capacity is increased by about 30 percent. Optimized production processes, an apprentice workshop for the next generation, a motivating work environment and committed environmental protection make Dörth one of the most modern rudder propeller factories in the world.
70+ years of propulsion expertise
With the invention of the rudder propeller in 1950, Josef Becker laid the foundation for SCHOTTEL becoming one of the world’s leading manufacturers of vessel propulsion systems. Decades of expertise in the field of propulsion combined with state-of-the-art technologies have enabled SCHOTTEL to offer a wide range of innovative and future-oriented products and services.
Solutions for vessels of all types and sizes
Today, SCHOTTEL products can be found on almost all types of vessels. In addition to Tug & Offshore Energy and Ferries, Yachts & Passenger Vessels, the company has a stable market position in the Merchant Vessels and Navy & Governmental segments. This applies equally to new vessels and to modernizations. Automation, propulsion control and hybrid propulsion systems extend the product range which is supplemented by marine services.
More than 100 engineers work hand in hand every day across various specialist departments to create reliable products that prove their performance in practice. Constant investments in research and development ensure that SCHOTTEL customers benefit from products of the highest standard.
After sales service: keeping an eye on the entire life cycle
As already displayed by Josef Becker, customer proximity, competent advice and personal after sales service are still part of the SCHOTTEL philosophy today. Thanks to fast support, downtimes are reduced to a minimum and vessels are ready for operation again in no time.
In addition to the worldwide sales and service network, customers can attend seminars to update their technical knowledge: either locally, in one of the four training centers (Spay/Germany, Houma/USA, Singapore, Fremantle/Australia), or online.
Stefan Kaul: “Powerful heritage. Bright future.”
“The customer is the focus of our daily business. Those in the maritime industry who turn to SCHOTTEL have always been able to expect products and services of the highest standard. Our goal is to be the first choice in marine propulsion solutions. To this end, we use our entire wealth of experience and all our innovative strength to improve existing areas and expand into new ones. This and the powerful heritage of Josef Becker will help us to stay on course for a bright future.”