Damen Shipyards Group and Gebhard Electro are celebrating a milestone moment; Gebhard has recently contributed for the 450th time to a Damen tug. Working together for more than three decades, the companies have collaborated on over 900 projects in total.
It all began with a telephone from Damen 30 years ago when an existing vessel encountered a technical issue with its electrical system. Damen was impressed with the effective and fast manner in which Gebhard solved the issue and an excellent relationship was born.
Gebhard MD Gerard Kraaij says of the collaboration, “the relationship with Damen is warm and friendly. It’s a big company, but it’s like a family. In good times we celebrate together and in bad times we look for solutions together – be they financial or technical.
“It’s a bit like a marriage,” he continues. “You have to listen to one another and make adjustments, otherwise it’s not possible to stay together for 30 years.”
Damen Director Products Workboats Joost Mathôt agrees. “We have a relationship based on transparency and trust. It’s the only way to be successful. Ultimately, the beneficiaries of this open way of working are the end users; vessel operators who can count on the reliability of a product developed in such a positive and constructive manner.”
In recent times, Damen has undergone a transformation in order to prepare itself to work towards its goals; to become the most digitally connected and sustainable shipbuilder in the world. In this, Joost explains, Damen is able to count on the support of Gebhard.
“As we evolve we are asking more and more of our suppliers. We are asking them to rethink how they do things in order that we can provide our clients with increased benefits. Gebhard understands this and is working along with us.
“Whereas 20 years ago, the focus would have been on the hull form and propulsion, now it’s about data. It’s important for operators to be able to harvest the information that will enable them to lower emissions. Electrical systems have a crucial role to play in this.”
Gerard concurs, saying, “Gebhard is fully aligned with Damen on the importance of sustainability. CO2 reduction is going to be key in the coming years. Damen has a unique role to play in this, being able to create standard solutions that are able to evolve by embracing innovation. We too are heading in this direction, working towards the development of systems that can operate on battery power. We are very much looking forward to working with Damen in the future – here’s to the next 450 tugs!”