Head of Siemens Marine & Shipbuilding
Since joining the company fresh out of university in 1989, Schwan has held a variety of positions, including head of Siemens’ global cable business, Crisis Manager for Siemens Industry, and Regional Business Manager for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. Now he heads a division that ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of diesel-electric propulsion systems for the marine industry.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Germany and educated at the University of Hannover. I am an electrical engineer by training with a focus on High Voltage Technology and Power Electronics (which was quite new at the time). I joined Siemens because it’s the number one choice in Germany for aspiring engineers.
What languages do you speak?
In addition to German, I am fluent in English.
Are you based in Germany?
Yes, in Hamburg, the headquarters of the worldwide Marine & Shipbuilding organization.
Siemens is a huge company with over 400,000 employees worldwide and revenues of more than $100 billion. How does Marine & Shipbuilding fit in?
The Marine & Shipbuilding business fits well in the Siemens organization as various trendsetting offerings from the Industry Sector are being required by our customers. Siemens Marine & Shipbuilding combines these products to systems, solutions and service offerings.
What sectors of the maritime industry do you serve?
Our focus markets are offshore and special vessels, where we have unique selling propositions like BlueDrive™ (Plus C), a new diesel-electric propulsion system that increases safety, cuts operational costs, improves lifecycle economics and decreases our customers’ environmental footprint. We also serve container lines, the cruise industry and megayachts. In the naval market we take care of both surface vessels and submarines, where we have unique selling propositions like our PERMASYN motor and our hybrid fuel cell system.
OK, what is the PERMASYN system?
It’s a propulsion system for submarines, a drive system that operates efficiently with very low signatures, which is essential for long dives and makes the vessel harder to detect. What we call permanent “excitation” is achieved with the aid of magnets, allowing the engine to work without additional electrical power. Although smaller and more lightweight than conventional propulsion solutions, the PERMASYN (Permanent Excited Propulsion Motor) achieves much better efficiency.
What is Siemens Blue™?
The Siemens BlueDrive™ (Plus C) system is a low-voltage, multi-drive system that enables the operator to run the vessel in the most efficient manner at various operational profiles, enabling the highest possible diesel-genset efficiency in all operational sea conditions.
Who are some of your more important customers?
Our typical customers are shipowners and operators and shipyards around the world. Key regions are China, South Korea, the U.S. and Europe.
Do you have a hybrid-drive technology?
In the field of diesel-electric propulsion, hybrid drive concepts are key offerings in order to adapt to the specific requirements and operational profiles in various vessel markets.
What other new and exciting products are you working on?
We are constantly evolving our Integrated Drive System offerings to further increase efficiency and help our customers to both lower their operational costs and reduce noxious emissions (e.g., NOX, CO2). Another “green” offering is our Waste Heat Recovery System, a technology in which we are the clear market leader. Our customers are able to save more than 10 percent in fuel costs with corresponding reductions in CO2 and NOX emissions. We also offer and continue to evolve our EcoMAIN platform, comprising a decision-support and fleet management system.
What are your goals for the business?
Siemens Marine & Shipbuilding will further localize production and add value in key focus regions (e.g., Asia) in order to better serve our customers locally. We are also continuously extending and adding to our global service network.
How would you describe your management style?
I guess I have a cooperative management style. I manage by consensus.
What is the biggest challenge facing the industry right now?
The biggest challenge from my perspective is the significant shipbuilding overcapacity, especially in Asian markets, that is driving prices further and further down to unhealthy levels.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am married and have three children, so in my spare time I’m both a family man and someone who enjoys outdoor sports activities, such as mountain biking.
Any final thoughts for our readers?
For me the maritime industry is very exciting. It’s constantly changing and plays a vital role in world commerce. I’m passionate about it and proud to be part of it.
Jack O’Connell is Senior Editor of the magazine.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.