The new Total Lubmarine Hamburg office sits in the heart of one of Europe’s biggest shipping cities. Opened in January 2018, following its relocation from the southern suburbs, the office allows closer connections than ever before with the countless owners and managers based in the centre of Hamburg. But the heady days of the mid 2000s when the German owned and operated fleet rapidly expanded and enjoyed big profits are sadly long gone. Following a decade of poor freight rates and the end of easy shipping finance, some of the biggest and oldest names in German shipping have been acquired by rivals, merged, gone into receivership or become ship managers.
But what does this mean for the marine lubricants business?
According to Olivier Baumgartner, Total Lubmarine’s Germany country manager, it means there is a focus by customers on achieving as many operational savings as possible.
“Customers want to see a return on their investments. The marine lubricants budget is always significant in their cost breakdowns, meaning that it is important for us to showcase our ability to deliver the best products and services possible. Of course we try to encourage customers to think of the big picture when it comes to lubrication – such as component lifetime, technical expertise and engine maintenance costs for example,” he says.
The challenge for Total Lubmarine, a global marine lubricant supplier with a local-led approach, is to ensure that the customers get access to an innovative range of lubricants, the best possible support and the lowest possible price.
Total Lubmarine works hard to be as close to its customers as possible, and the Hamburg office, one of the largest in the Total Lubmarine network, is a good example of how to do this well.
The Total Lubmarine team in Hamburg
The office has responsibility for Germany and Cyprus shipowning and managing customers. The strong team, which includes two marine engineers, back-office support staff and commercial managers, is in constant dialogue with its customers, providing them with both ship specific support and more general advice.
“The biggest question we’re asked is how to comply with the 2020 sulphur cap and the impact that this will have on lube choice,” says Simon Gerken, Total Lubmarine’s Hamburg based marine manager.
“Through our ‘One Total’ initiative, we have an inherent connection with the Total Group as a whole, meaning that we are well placed to see the changes that are happening in the industry. From Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions’ (TMFGS) charter contract with MOL, to Total’s role as a supplier of LNG for CMA CGM – we are seeing the challenges of alternative fuels first hand, helping us to come up with marine lubricant strategies for 2020”.
Thanks to its convenient central Hamburg location, where 80% of its customers are based, the office’s pleasant meeting rooms will be frequently used for presentations and direct exchange with the customers. Pressurized technical superintendents and fleet managers need to understand the marine lubricant choices which they are making and the long as well as short term benefits of any given lubricant strategy. With the typical technical superintendent managing more ships than ever before, the ability to call on top-level lubricant expertise is vital.
“Our engineers offer all of our customers in-depth analysis of their engine’s performance. They are able to put engine operational data next to drain oil analysis and ensure that feed rates are optimized. In the not too distant future we hope to be offering tools which offer even better analysis than ever before,” says Olivier Baumgartner.
But it’s not just about the management of the engine and choice of lube. A critical part of Total Lubmarine’s role is to ensure swift and seamless delivery of products to wherever, and whenever, the customer wants.
“Just today I had a call from a customer who needed the delivery of lubes to New York tomorrow,” says Simon Gerken. He explains that unlike rivals who rely on a central call center and local affiliates to deliver, Total Lubmarine believes in a local approach. In this case it meant that the customer, who required delivery within 24 hours was able to achieve this, thanks to the direct exchange between the Hamburg and New York offices as well as the long established relations to physical suppliers locally.
Whilst the pressure is still on to provide competitively priced lubricants, the business of lubricants is all about partnerships. Total Lubmarine Germany is uniquely placed to provide its customers with the first class service they deserve.
Supporting the Bussard
Visitors to the Hamburg Harbour Birthday this May will have a chance to take a trip onboard one of the world’s oldest coal powered ships still in operation. Thanks in part to the support of Total Lubmarine which provides lubricants as well as funding, the 1905 built Bussard is a popular tourist attraction.
“We’re delighted to support this grand old lady,” says Total Lubmarine’s country manager for Germany, Olivier Baumgartner.
Based in the Baltic Sea for much of its working life, the Bussard was in service for an incredible 74 years, only retiring from active duty in 1979. Today, guests are able to take trips onboard during special port events.
See www.dampfschiff-bussard.de for further details.