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HANSA 02-2021

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Green & Efficient German

Green & Efficient German suppliers – against all odds The corona crisis is speeding up the reorientation process at German marine equipment suppliers. With all forecasts being rather vague, not only marine and offshore equipment suppliers have to continue to proceed with caution In retrospect, 2020 began well for makers of marine and offshore equipment following a surge in sales to 11.1 bn € in 2019. The level of incoming orders indicated further growth, and the sector was able to expand its workforce in a targeted manner. Moreover, the tax incentives for promoting research that had long been called for were at last put into effect, and ideas for innovative product development could be further developed. Corona hit the industry Then the effects of the Corona pandemic became increasingly noticeable in spring. The crisis affected initially the factories and current production: companies had to respond quickly and intelligently and do all they could to prevent customer-related production coming to a stillstand. It was also necessary to ensure the supply of components from other countries and organise deliveries to customers on schedule. The global shock caused by the pandemic and its increasing impact in the course of 2020 then also resulted in declines in incoming orders at many firms. Corona also negatively affected another activity greatly contributing to the success of companies in the sector, namely their support of plant and equipment on ships over the entire service life, as the massive national and international travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the pandemic made it difficult for assemblers and commissioning engineers to work on site in a value-added manner. Situation in companies German suppliers are about to speed up their reorientation process, says Jörg Mutschler The sea transport sector has meanwhile recovered: freight rates are picking up, cargo transport volume is rising very rapidly worldwide, and all ships in service require technical maintenance to ensure they can operate as planned. The crisis seems to have been almost overcome in Asia. Incoming orders are being registered especially from China. On the other hand, the situation is currently unpredictable in the cruise shipbuilding segment, which is so strong in Europe and is an important customer for German marine and offshore equipment suppliers. The incoming order situation as a whole is thus still unsatisfactory, with the result that many firms are continuing with short-time work in order to avoid redundancies. However, the effective and rapid reorganisation initiated in spring is now paying off – shift and home office working arrangements have been established and are being used flexibly. There has been further growth in customer contacts via video conferences, and even contractual negotiations can be carried out via web conferences. The digital services enable even small or medium-sized companies to develop in some cases new, hitherto neglected markets. Flexible visualisations with e.g. augmented reality enable maintenance and service operations to be performed with trained assistants on site. Many companies in the sector invested at an early stage in teleservice und predictive maintenance and can now reap the benefits, sooner than envisaged. It is even possible in principle to carry out the entire commissioning of components and systems by remote control. Despite the use of all the new possibilities available, however, it is becoming apparent that personal contact and also personal support are highly valued factors that are simply missed at the present time. Post-corona period All forecasts are currently rather vague, and thus not only marine and offshore equipment suppliers have to continue to proceed with caution. More than 64,000 highly qualified persons are employed in the industry in Germany. Even during the Corona crisis, the firms, many of which are small or medium-sized enterprises, are retaining their qualified staff for as long as possible. However, companies need a future-oriented exit strategy to overcome the special situation they face at the present time. The fleet renewal programme promoted by the Maritime Coordinator Norbert Brackmann is helping German shipyards. © VDMA Marine 52 HANSA – International Maritime Journal 02 | 2021

Green & Efficient Marine equipment suppliers will probably benefit from this programme more in the medium term. It is generally important that the state funds now spent are efficiently used also in the crisis for innovation and future-oriented investment projects. Directly effective assistance for makers of maritime plant and equipment is provided by the permanent increase in losses carried back, the general and unrestricted degressive depreciation as well as the further expansion of tax incentives for promoting research. With these structural changes, the sector will become the enabler for the key future market drivers digitalisation and green shipping. Green shipping Despite the Corona crisis, the global climate goals set nationally and internationally remain a focal concern when it comes to the future of shipping. Over 90% of goods are transported by water, and a global fleet of more than 50,000 oceangoing ships has to be rapidly modernised to improve efficiency and environmental protection. No matter whether newbuilding or retrofit projects are involved, all innovations that make sea transport cleaner are assured of a good future. Apart from electric drive systems, international shipping in particular requires clean combustion systems. There is a need for ongoing improvement in the efficiency and processing of the energy carriers, which should be entirely climate-neutral if possible. The way forward is via LNG, ammonia and green hydrogen from renewable energies. The VDMA working group »Power-toX for Application« is considering solutions involving green hydrogen, in what ever form and whatever aggregate state, for marine propulsion purposes. The prerequisite here is climate-neutral electricity generated from wind and solar energy. Apart from cooperation with the offshore wind industry, the VDMA sees considerable potential in foreign trade partnerships with countries which thanks to their geographical location can efficiently produce hydrogen from solar energy. Large production plants made in Germany are to be established in such regions and operated for the mutual benefit of both partners. The ecologically and economically efficient ship of the future has to be designed with a climate-neutral drive and the intelligent independent linking of all shipboard systems with the option of simple system extension and interchange of components without time or adjustment losses over the vessel’s entire lifecycle and service life. SMM 2021 and 12 th NMK Particularly in an era of home office and travel restrictions, it is vital to maintain and expand existing global contacts in and around the sector. Everyone is looking forward to the first international attendance events, which might eventuate in the second half of 2021. The next sector meeting now directly ahead of us is SMM DIGITAL. We expect the international programme and congress contributions at the first digital SMM to provide a significant boost for the industry and business in the 2021 financial year – against all the odds in the run-up to the event. We will then be given an overview of the German maritime sector at the possibly hybrid 12 th National Maritime Conference in Rostock in May 2021. The preparations for this event are under way, with participants from all segments of the maritime industry regularly meeting to discuss subjects and proposed solutions. Especially at this time, it is becoming clear that the German maritime sector in many areas must and is able to reorient itself in order to continue to be successful in the world market and act as innovation driver. Author: Jörg Mutschler Managing Director VDMA Marine Equipment and Systems Working Group Power-toX for Application The shipping industry must identify smart ways to replace fossil fuels to become more sustainable. We, the VDMA Power-to-X for Applications, are convinced that P2X is such a smart way that helps the combustion engine to play a key role also in the future. We are the network for P2X solutions and the cross-industry platform for exchange, communication, and cooperation. Find out more on Shutterstock HANSA – International Maritime Journal 02 | 2021 53

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