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Innovating Maritime Technology: A Deep Dive with ELNA GmbH’s Leif Schick


Explore maritime innovation with Leif Schick, Managing Director of ELNA GmbH. Schick discusses ELNA’s diverse product development, from military to recreational boating, highlighting their advanced MF/HF antennas and innovative lightning protection systems. He delves into ELNA’s commitment to sustainability, responses to emerging maritime trends, and the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.

How does ELNA GmbH strategically approach product development to meet the diverse needs of sectors ranging from military to recreational boating?

We maintain close partnerships with our customers. Product developments are often the result of customer requests or new application requirements. For our wholesaler business in the recreational marine market we are always looking for new innovative products and brands. The successful products are often problem solvers for something.

Could you elaborate on the technological advancements in ELNA’s MF/HF antennas that distinguish them in the maritime market?

Our MF/HF antennas are characterised by their robustness and durability. This is the basis of our success. It’s all about reliability, which we have been supplying for decades.

Bright branched lightning bolts strike down near the dutch coast

Why is lightning protection becoming increasingly important for yachts?


There are two main reasons for this. The frequency and intensity of storms and lightning is increasing due to climate change. The warmer and humid the climate, the more thunderstorms occur.

The second reason is the increase in electronics on board. The value of navigation equipment, entertainment, and other electrical devices installed on yachts continues to rise. It therefore stands to reason that more frequent thunderstorms mean that more and more yachts are being struck by lightning, causing ever greater damage. Yacht insurance companies report an increase in claims from year to year.


What are the unique challenges and innovations in developing lightning protection systems for various maritime vessels?


First, you have to understand why protecting a yacht from lightning damage is a particular challenge. The lightning protection concepts that have been more or less successful for buildings do not work on yachts. The main reason is that yachts are simply built too narrowly to provide safe conventional lightning protection. Even if you manage to effectively drain the lightning strike into the water, and possibly save the mast, the probability of damage to the electronics from the inductive energy of the lightning strike is very high.

Another form of protection is needed. We found this in the DDCE Marine Lightning Protection System from the company Dinnteco. The DDCE is a lightning protection system against direct lightning strikes. The patented system performs continuous potential equalisation to prevent a positively charged upward streamer from the protected structure and thus prevents the formation of a flash channel and avoids the main discharge/lightning strike into the yacht.

Can you discuss how the FERROPILOT brand is tailored to meet the specific needs of the recreational maritime sector?


With the FERROPILOT brand, we are focusing on the recreational market, particularly on electronics. Technical expertise and good customer service are key to selling increasingly complex devices in a sensible way.

Our guiding principle is focusing on quality instead of quantity. Additionally, product availability has become more important than ever.


How does ELNA GmbH integrate sustainability and environmental protection into its product designs and operational processes?


We are gradually analysing how we can save resources. Where possible, we are switching to more sustainable raw materials and saving energy during the production process. We want to do our part for a more sustainable world.


What future trends and developments do you foresee in maritime communication and safety technology, and how is ELNA preparing for these changes?


We can see that green products are becoming increasingly important in our industry. Electromobility, in particular, will be a major topic in the coming years. We have been focusing on battery management, solar energy, and self-sufficiency for years. The growing importance of electric motors in this area means we will and must focus even more on it.

Leif Schick Managing Director, ELNA GmbH

How does ELNA GmbH’s approach to customer service and support contribute to an enhanced user experience for your diverse clientele?


As already mentioned, our strength lies in technical support. Online trading is making business increasingly anonymous, and good consultation has become almost non-existent. Our dealers also often lack the necessary expertise due to a shortage of skilled labour. We compensate for this by constantly striving to pass on our knowledge to our customers.


What are the key challenges and opportunities you currently see in the maritime industry, and how is ELNA GmbH positioned to address them?


The most significant challenge currently facing the maritime industry is the increasing shortage of skilled labor. Good staff will be essential if we are to continue leveraging our strengths. Therefore, we are focusing heavily on improving working conditions to ensure that we remain an attractive employer. This challenge also presents an opportunity for ELNA.

In terms of the recreational boating market, ongoing challenges include weak consumer confidence and high interest rates. To counter these, we will continue to focus on developing new products and innovations, aiming to grow against the market trend.