Carl Schniewindt laid the foundation of Schniewindt as we know it today, but it was in the year 1902 that the company’s first patent on a special grid sparked the initial impulse for global success.
The Schniewindt-Grid, as it is known in the market, is still used in resistor technology worldwide. “The grid turned out to be an ideal solution for the high-voltage sector and has become a true standard,” says CEO Dr. Sarah Schniewindt.
Today, the family company is active all around the globe. It also operates a subsidiary in Shanghai, focusing on end assembly, as China has developed into a huge market for energy distribution. Worldwide, Schniewindt employs a workforce of 220 people, and profits have soared to 20 to 30 million EUR.
“We are experiencing positive development with strong growth in all units,” adds Dr. Schniewindt. Nevertheless, current low oil prices have had an impact on the petrochemical and offshore industries, which are currently refraining from any investments.
“On the other hand, investments in energy distribution are growing and compensate for reduced activities in other fields,” states Dr. Schniewindt. “In addition, heating technology is experiencing fierce competition not only in Germany but also on an international level. But this overall situation does not have a major impact on our positive corporate development.”
Only recently, Schniewindt has been named world leader for its braking resistor technology as applied in the maritime industry. “Electric engines provide the primary propulsive power on board modern cruise ships, with the electric energy required being produced by diesel generators. Our brake resistors are in operation to guarantee a controlled deceleration of the engine. They transform drive energy into thermal energy,” explains Dr. Schniewindt.
Schniewindt is concentrating on the three major fields of heating technology, resistor technology and energy transmission technology. Of particular interest to Schniewindt is the issue of power to heat.
“In Germany, about 30% of energy needs are covered by renewable energies. As a consequence, at some times during the year, an overload of the electricity supply network can be observed, for instance at Pentecost. The explanation for this is quite simple: The sun is shining, a light wind is blowing, and people are going on holiday. This situation leaves the grid with an overload of electricity from photovoltaic and wind energy,” says Dr. Schniewindt.
“Therefore a decentralization of grid feeding makes sense. Public utilities could use Schniewindt heaters as additional energy consumers. Within only seconds the overload of energy is used for energy generation by means of heating water for their own local heating network. So, the overload of electric energy is used most sensibly.”
Schniewindt offers suitable heaters with a capacity of 200 kW to 10 MW, which are already in operation. “We think, this solution has huge future potential,” says Dr. Schniewindt.Various patents and close cooperation with universities in the region differentiate Schniewindt from any competitors.
The company invests large sums in research and development in order to position itself for the future. “Some new findings will only show their impact within the next decade or two. But as a family company, we always think in terms of generations, not financial quarters,” points out Dr. Schniewindt.
The company targets various customer groups, including energy producers and distributors, machine engineering, plant engineering, and the chemical and petrochemical sectors in almost equal terms.
In 2015, Schniewindt’s export business first amounted to 50%, with Northern and Eastern Europe being the most important markets. However, products and solutions from Schniewindt are equally in high demand in China, the Americas and Russia.
“We keep up with the times and adjust our products accordingly. One has to grow with the requirements of evolving markets. Energy policy is subject to change, but it also opens up new opportunities,” says Dr. Schniewindt. “Our products will always be there. Energy transmission will be needed in the future, and we will have to rely on oil and gas for a long time coming.”