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VDMA: Shipbuilding Boom Lifts Suppliers’ Spirits 

vdma propeller
File image courtesy VDMA

Published Jun 7, 2021 9:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, German equipment and shipbuilding association VDMA released a detailed market prospectus for the year ahead, and all signs are positive.

In 2020, Germany’s shipbuilding and offshore equipment industry – with its 400 companies and 63,000 employees - generated an annual turnover of 10.5 billion euros. The share of its foreign business revenue was a healthy 76 percent, reflecting its longstanding orientation towards exports.

After a small 4.9 percent dip in 2020 due to the pandemic, turnover is now on the rebound and sales are healthy. Even during the downturn, 31 percent of the association’s members still recorded growth. Martin Johannsmann, Chairman of the Board of VDMA Marine Equipment and Systems and CEO of SKF GmbH, reports that there is a “significant increase in incoming orders [that] makes the industry optimistic, and expectations for the future are positive.” 

 “The industry is heterogeneous. There are small and large companies, broadly positions and very specialized firms. However, maritime machinery and equipment manufacturers are always characterized by flexibility and innovative strength,” Johannsmann said. Increasingly, this innovation will be digital in form – and digitalization’s importance has been compounded during the pandemic. 

The coalescence of continuously provided digital data has allowed for the development of new innovations and the continuation of market movement, even during quarantine restrictions. Now, digital solutions that allow for remote commissioning and maintenance for international customers are making it easier than ever to fulfill new orders.  “It is becoming increasingly clear that digitalization is the main driver in the maritime industry,” said VDMA.

The sector is also looking to meet its climate targets. Since 90 percent of all transport services globally occur by sea, CO2-neutral fuels are becoming more significant. Policymakers and maritime equipment suppliers are teaming up to develop long term solutions, including green hydrogen, which produces only water when combusted.

Offshore wind will play a major role in this energy transition, and the sector is an important source of revenue for Germany’s equipment suppliers and shipyards. “For the planned offshore wind turbine projects around the world with their hundreds of gigawatts of capacity, a great many new installation and service vessels will be needed,” said Johannsmann. “Here we see very good opportunities for the German supply industry and also the shipyards.”