Over the past hundred years, Bakker Sliedrecht has made a major contribution to the growth and increase in efficiency of the Dutch dredging industry, offshore, maritime and industrial sector. In the coming years, the company will assist the same sectors with its electrical systems and automation solutions in a safe transition towards zero emissions, hybrid solutions and the use of new types of fuel.
“In the hundred years of our existence, we have been leading in developing new technologies and innovations. We strive to be a forerunner in this area in the future too,” says Sjoerd Teertstra, managing director of Bakker Sliedrecht. Over the past century, the company has become one of the largest independent electrical system integrators in the world. Bakker Sliedrecht now has 300 employees, has a 12,000 square meter workshop in Sliedrecht and has among others an office and a service hub in China.
During the Europort 2019 maritime exhibition, which will be held in Ahoy in Rotterdam from 5 to 8 November, the exhibition stand of Bakker Sliedrecht and sister company Bakker Repair + Services is entirely devoted to its 100th anniversary. “We reflect on our shared successes, but mainly look ahead to the future, together with our partners,” says Teertstra. Europort focusses on ‘special ships, smart solutions’, a theme that is referring to the continuous evolution of smart technology in shipping and shipbuilding. This theme is illustrative of the history of Bakker Sliedrecht.
That history began when founder Sion Bakker in 1919 started the ‘N.V. Electrotechnisch Bureau S. Bakker’. He and his workshop were located at the Rivierdijk in Sliedrecht. Back then, the young company installed central heating systems in churches and companies and provided industrial buildings with electrical lighting. In those early days, Bakker started to focus increasingly on the dredging and maritime industry. In 1920, for example, the company installed the electrical lighting installation on the steamship ‘Gränna’, which was built at the former shipyard Baanhoek in Sliedrecht. In 1922 the electrical installation for the bucket dredger ‘Kil’ followed. During the war, the company was mainly closed. After the liberation in 1945, Bakker Sliedrecht started to focus more on electrical installations for ships, especially for dredgers and suction dredgers. The maritime order portfolio became increasingly full and the projects more complex. That is why the company had a new workshop with an office built in 1951, a little further on the Rivierdijk. Bakker hired new technically skilled staff and already had 20 employees in 1955.
“Sliedrecht, as part of the Drechtsteden, is the cradle of the Dutch dredging industry. The region has always been a pioneer in the world. When the larger Dutch and Belgian dredging companies expanded, Bakker Sliedrecht expanded too,” says Teertstra. ,,Dredgers are more successful if they’re able to work more efficiently. When electrical installations on ships started to play an increasingly important role in this, Bakker Sliedrecht became closely intertwined with the dredging sector. Later on the offshore sector was added. In this sector too, you saw increasingly complex ships that were all dependent on electrical solutions. With our technology and systems we have made an important contribution to making these sectors more effective.”
In the years following the war, the office and workshop were further expanded and modernized. Still they turned out to be too small in the 1970s. That is why the company bought land on the industrial area Nijverwaard in Sliedrecht. In December 1973, the company moved to its new home and current location at the Leeghwaterstraat.
At that time, it found a new generator and engine supplier in INDAR, the Spanish company with which Bakker Sliedrecht maintains a close relationship until this day. To meet the increasing demand for maintenance in all sectors, sister company Baker Repair + Services was founded in 1975.
In recent decades, Bakker Sliedrecht has been involved in the construction of dozens of ships, allowing the company to build up close relationships with various Dutch shipyards. When a lot of construction work in shipbuilding moved to low-wage countries in Eastern Europe and Asia this century, Bakker’s specialists traveled with it. “Over the years we have adapted ourselves to the geographical shifts. As a result, we can now supply and maintain our systems on all continents,” says Teertstra.
Bakker Sliedrecht’s electrical engineering knowledge and experience also turned out to be needed in land-based industries. The company specializes in switch boxes, generators, high and medium voltage connections and installations. Besides that, it even connects solar and wind parks to the grid. “In this sector there is an increasing need for electrical system integrators and Bakker Sliedrecht will proved itself there too,” claims Teertstra.
Innovation and future
Bakker Sliedrecht has always been known for its innovation. It proved to be a pioneer by being the first company to develop a submersible motor that drives the underwater pumps and suction tubes of the dredgers. The company also led the development of water-cooled drive systems. According to Teertstra, this innovative power is desperately needed now that the maritime sector is moving towards zero-emission. “We are preparing all our systems and technology for hybrid solutions and sailing with other types of fuel which ensure zero-emission. They all have an enormous impact on the on-board systems, both for the new and the existing fleet. We go along with this trend and remain a forerunner in this area,” he announces. “Our strength is that we, being an independent system integrator, can supply continuous tailor-made solutions, together with all partners and suppliers. Every ship, system or installation is different. We can deliver exactly the system that matches the operational target of the customer.”
Since 2018, Bakker Sliedrecht has partnered up with RH Marine, an expert in maritime electrical systems and automation solutions for, among others, naval vessels and superyachts. Teertstra: “This enables us to deploy our knowledge and skills for our customers from a broader perspective.”