When Dellner Brakes CEO Marcus Aberg joined the company three years ago, the marine market was becalmed. Shipbuilding in 2015 and 2016 had all but stopped, with an inevitable impact on the Borlänge-based supplier and its shipping customers.
“We were not in a bad position, but it was time to think of a new strategy,” says Mr Aberg, who joined the company from a career in management consultancy. “We wanted to expand around the world and to have a stronger presence in the markets where we already were. We wanted to expand with new products.”
Although it is a relatively small company, Dellner Brakes is part of the broader Dellner Group of companies, and therefore had some purchasing power. In September 2017 it acquired Gummi Brakes, a US-based maker of pneumatic drum brakes. This gave the company a product that it could previously not offer the marine market: clutched drum brakes are required in diesel-driven reduction gears, which require a consistent braking pressure.
The exposure in the US was also crucial. Mr Aberg notes that while Dellner had previously been strong in sales to the US, it had a limited sales presence there. Gummi’s base helped it to gain access to new market segments, including inland vessels.
Marcus Aberg (Dellner Brakes): "We want to be out on the ocean again and looking for new opportunities"
In February 2018 the company made a more high-profile deal, acquiring industrial braking specialist Pintsch Bubenzer. The German manufacturer is well known for its material-handling equipment. It has an offshore business in winches and cranes but its core segment in shipping is in container ship-to-shore cranes. Mr Aberg notes that the two companies’ complementary markets were a major incentive behind the deal. So too was the company’s reputation for high-quality engineering.
“We see there will be more areas where we can use our products, not just our braking expertise but in locking systems as well control and monitoring”
The Pintsch Bubenzer acquisition also brought a technology that Dellner was quick to apply to the shipping market; the Buel electrohydraulic thruster and power package. Combined with Dellner’s stopping, turning and locking systems, the result is a self-contained braking system that includes its own power and is easy to fit and operate.
According to Mr Aberg, the product, launched at SMM last year, exemplifies how Dellner Brakes wants to integrate new technologies from its acquisitions. “We have now developed a few more driveline-focused products where we will combine their technology with ours,” he says. “These will be launched later this year.”
Dellner’s third recent acquisition offers even more intriguing product development possibilities and access to a rapidly growing market. In September the company bought German brake specialist JHS Jungblut. The company’s business in the wind turbine sector – to which it supplies noise-free, lightweight brakes and yaw sliding bearings – and its presence in Asia were particularly attractive to its new owners.
Mr Aberg says: “We didn’t work much within the wind industry. Pintsch Bubenzer has some business in that sector but was focused on different products than JHS. When we put this together, we could see that it is beneficial for us to use each other’s products.”
As with the Buel power pack from Pintsch Bubenzer, there will be elements of JHS’ technology that can be brought into Dellner’s marine-focused activities. But it will work the other way too, says Mr Aberg. Technology from both Dellner’s original portfolio and Pintsch Bubenzer could find its way into an enhanced offering for the windfarm sector.
In just two years, the company has expanded its product offering, global presence and workforce significantly. Although Mr Aberg says that the company remains open to opportunities, there are no further acquisitions under consideration at the moment. “That is a lot to digest already,” he says.
While pursuing its growth strategy, the company has not been blind to emerging industry trends. The traditionally strong segments for braking products – fishing, naval and passenger vessels – have been at the vanguard of electrification and hybrid power trends. That is something that Mr Aberg believes Dellner can tap into.
“When you go from direct propulsion to pods and thrusters you have different engines, different shaftlines and different demands,” he says. “We see there will be more areas where we can use our products – not just our braking expertise, but in locking systems as well as control and monitoring.”
As one example of the move towards hybrid and electric propulsion, the company has developed a fully automatic braking system, the eSTL. This means that the brake can be turned without relying on hydraulic power, as finding a way to drive hydraulics could be a problem on a diesel-electric vessel. The core of Dellner’s portfolio will remain hydraulically driven, Mr Aberg anticipates, but there is increasing need for fully electric products too.
A busy three years in terms of business and portfolio expansion has positioned Dellner Brakes well for an anticipated recovery in the marine sector. New products will hit the market later this year and new business prospects are also expected to emerge from a wider geographic presence. There may be no new acquisitions in sight, says Mr Aberg, but that does not mean this is the last step in the company’s strategy.
“This is not the final harbour for Dellner Brakes,” he says. “We want to be out on the ocean again and looking for new opportunities.”
Mega yacht sea trial for silent coupling
Couplings specialist Geislinger has reported the successful sea trial of its Silenco coupling onboard an undisclosed mega yacht. The noise reducing couplings, which were launched two years ago, resulted in very low noise levels both in cabins and in the marine environment around the vessel, the company reported.
Engine noise is mainly transferred through engine bearings, and couplings can have a significant impact in reducing such noise. Geislinger’s coupling is designed to minimise the transfer of the structure-borne sound that originates from the engine and the gearbox and is transferred through the power train into the ship’s structure and beyond.
Geislinger manager of acoustics Dr Lothar Kurtze said: “Components with the best acoustical performance have been selected and further optimised for the modular system of the Geislinger Silenco coupling. Special flanges made from a combination of composite material, rubber, and steel have been developed. The coupling has been designed to avoid the resonance effects of its components and to ensure a broadband reduction of the transfer of the structure-borne noise, while offering electric insulation properties.”
The Silenco coupling is available in two different sizes and, depending on the acoustical needs and the required torque, different versions of the components including flanges, membrane and shaft are available.
The coupling between the gearbox and the propeller shaft is often the most critical connection for conducting noise and vibrations. In many applications, noise through the hull is exacerbated due to the mounting of the engine and gearbox with an elastic or double elastic frame against the ship’s structure.