aqua signal: 150 years of competence in lighting

This year our brand “aqua signal” celebrates its 150th anniversary. The German company was founded in 1868 in Bremen, producing petroleum navigation lights. Very short after that “Ahlemann & Schlatter” which was the original name causes sensation and is accentuated as specialist for marine and deep-sea fishing products. This was the start of an industrial adventure that still goes on as part of the famous Glamox family.

Since 1868, our ability to stay in the forefront of the technological development has made it possible for us to provide our customers with state-of-the-art lighting products on a continuous basis. Our products and solutions are developed and tested by our engineers at our own research and testing facilities, and manufactured and certified in accordance with all relevant quality and environmental standards. They are based on the latest technology and expertise – and generations of experience.

The LED century 

Jörg Koch-Losekamm


Markus Barner

• 2017: After almost 10 years, Jörg Koch-Losekamm takes over responsibility outside Glamox. Markus Barner becomes Managing Director.

• 2016: For the SMM exhibition in Hamburg, Glamox shows that it offers not only products, but also thinks about how to use light for more comfortable working and living. Keywords are Human Centric light, CRI, dim to warm.

• 2010 - 2016: Introducing a wide range of outstanding LED luminaires.• 2014: Change of the sales company name to Glamox Aqua Signal GmbH.

• 2009: Rolf Wagenfeld leaves the company and Jörg Koch-Losekamm, so far Sales Manager, becomes Managing Director.

• 2008: The product portfolio of LED based navigation lanterns was further expanded. In addition to lanterns for leisure boating, the first LED navigation lanterns will be marketed this year for commercial shipping. Aqua signal therefore again verifies its innovation leadership.

• 2006: The LED navigation lanterns are approved for the first time by the BSH. This is the breakthrough for all manufacturers in the LED development of navigation systems. The plant in Teterow is renamed “aqua signal Teterow GmbH & Co. KG” and assumes the operative business (production and logistics). This also includes the plant in Bremen. The aqua signal Corporation becomes a sales company. The environmental laboratory is certified by the Federal Office for Maritime Navigation and Hydrography during the same year.

• 2005: A sales office is opened in Shanghai, China. Robert Glissmann becomes the managing director of aqua signal Teterow GmbH. The production at the Bremen location is mostly automated by the use of robots. Independently working processing centres are formed.

• 2004: Navigation lanterns with LEDs are developed for leisure boating. Aqua signal receives a license from IMANA.  A completely new market segment is developed: lighting to mark aviation obstacles and lighting for explosion protected areas such as oil rigs and industrial facilities.

• 2003: Honoured with the Samsung award, a private-economic certification of the Samsung Corporation, in addition to the official certification points. The aqua signal environmental laboratory receives the license according to the Bureau Veritas standard.

• 2002: Receipt of the ATEX certification. This European standard represents a certification of the production site and is a requirement for the international manufacture of explosion-protected lights.•2000: The LED technology advances and recessed lighting with LED technology is developed and sold for the leisure and passenger sector

Entering the global market and acquisition by Glamox
1982 - 1997

Quality tests

Aqua Signal Teterow

Rolf Wagenfeld

• 1997: The first lights are produced completely without weld joints, only via clinch joining.•1996: The participation in aqua signal (Australia) Pty. Ltd. is sold to Glamox international AS. The company of aqua signal is ISO certified since the middle of the year. Rolf Wagenfeld, previously manager of controlling becomes chairman of aqua signal AG.

• 1995: The Norwegian lighting corporation Glamox acquires 50.01 % of the capital stock prior to the capital increase, and then it receives 75 %. Air signal is sold to the British Page Aerospace Ltd. The participation in ASTRALUX is also sold.

• 1994: The Company is restructured; unprofitable business sections from the 1950s are discontinued. This results in a concentration on nuclear competencies in the maritime sector. The first CNC controlled deep drawing press is integrated in production. The first steps in clinch joining are undertaken as a replacement for weld joints with the use of this new maximum precision press.

• 1992: aqua signal receives the Schütting award for economy and science. The first place is quoted at 15,000 DM. The underfloor lights by aqua signal, which are equipped with fibreglass, are honoured.  Underfloor lighting with LED technology is developed during the same year. This designates the first LED light in production.

• 1991: The 100 percent subsidiary “aqua signal Teterow GmbH” is established. The first lamp comes of the assembly line in November 1991. 12 employees are working in Teterow at this time.

• 1990 – 1991: The acquisition of a factory in Teterow, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the reconstruction there into an aqua signal production site takes place.1990: A strategic participation at 49 percent in the “ASTRALUX UK Ltd.” in Chorley / Great Britain takes place. The existing laboratory is expanded in 1990. Air conditioning, temperature, vibration and drop tests as well as corrosion tests and protection degree tests can be performed at the highest level.

• 1988: “aqua signal (Australia) Pty. Ltd.” is established. Large-scale contracts in the military sector in Australia and New Zealand are acquired within the scope of the establishment, which results in numerous product innovations, which are later also used as modification in Germany. Rolf Wagenfeld enters the company in the Controlling department.

• 1987: The 2D design system is introduced in segments in 1987.

• 1986: The shareholder’s meeting makes the decision on June 18th to change the “aqua signal AHLEMANN & SCHLATTER GmbH & Co. KG” to the “aqua signal AG”. The stocks are introduced at the Securities Exchange in Bremen. aqua signal employs 290 employees at this time, including 10 engineers and scientists. The production area equals 11,000 sqm, 4,000 products are manufactured here and exported worldwide .The company “airsignal GmbH & Co. KG” is established for the manufacture and sales of lighting systems and other components for aerospace. The new company belongs to “aqua signal AHLEMANN & SCHLATTER GmbH & Co. KG” and the “Midland-Ross Corporation Grimes Division” at 50% each. The American shareholder drops out after a year and airsignal becomes a 100 percent subsidiary of aqua signal. airsignal becomes a supplier for all Airbus models.

• 1985: The aqua signal Corporation is established in Chicago based on increasing sales numbers.

• 1984: Development of the first micro-chips for use in electronic monitoring systems for navigation lanterns. The company name is changed to “aqua signal AHLEMANN & SCHLATTER GmbH & Co. KG.

• 1983: Explosion-protected lamps are included in the program. The necessary know-how and the necessary testing possibilities by aqua signal represent an important precondition. The almost annual development of new products follows in this special segment from 1989.

• 1982: The research and development department is expanded through extensive investments in testing devices.

Introducing the aqua signal brand and innovation in navigation lights  
1965 - 1977

Recreational products 1972/1974

Navigation lanterns by aqua signal: series 70

Company headquarter in Bremen Mahndorf

Development of the company logo

Factory premises in 1967


• 1977: Completion of the new administration building in Bremen-Mahndorf and move of the departments remaining in Hemelingen.

• 1976: Program expansion: Ahlemann & Schlatter develops and produces electronic switching and monitoring panels as well as electronic ballast and lighting control device. These devices guarantee the maximum security standard on ships, because the failure of a lantern is immediately signalled.

• 1975: Ahlemann & Schlatter develops the first worldwide completely plastic lantern of polycarbonate that corresponds with the IMO regulations. A drum lens of acrylic is developed with the University of Karlsruhe, which almost completely replaces the glass. The company achieves its worldwide top position with such innovations.

• 1974: Completion and move of production from Hemelingen to the new building. Sales and Administration remain in Hemelingen for the moment.

• 1972 – 1973: The electrical wholesale company is sold and is followed by a strategic concentration on the lighting production. The profits are used to invent in a 35,000 sqm property in Bremen-Mahndorf. The construction of a 7,200 sqm ultramodern factory building begins.

• 1971: The International Regulation for Prevention of Collisions at Sea is revised and applied for the first time internationally according to the “International Maritime Organization” (IMO). These provisions are mandatory for all manufacturers and ship owners and offer the lantern manufacturers the opportunity to further develop their products. Ahlemann & Schlatter immediately begin with the development of new lanterns. The company in Bremen receives the prototype test and license for electrically powered navigation lanterns in 1971 as the first company. Ahlemann & Schlatter therefore achieved a lead and could improve their market position considerably. The brand logo “aqua signal” is introduced. This name is international and catchy. Especially Far Eastern business partners had difficulties in pronouncing the old name.

• 1970: A completely new assortment of lights and signalling devices is constructed based on the increasing importance of leisure boating and is introduced for the first time at the international boat fair EMTEC in Hamburg.

• 1970 – 1971: The departments for work preparation and design are created.

• 1967: A new factory building emerges on the existing premises, a new administration building follows in 1968. The maximum use of the premises has therefore been reached. Ahlemann & Schlatter GmbH & Co. KG records increasing sales in all fields. The large-scale order of a brand name goods manufacturer ordering fluorescent advertising signs contributes essentially to the profit increase. However, orders in the lantern and navigation lantern sector promote the further expansion of the production capacities.  Rudolf Ahlemann passes away in October 1968, shortly before the 100 year anniversary celebration of the company, which therefore takes place within a modest scope.

• 1965: Restructuring to the limited partnership “Ahlemann & Schlatter GmbH & Co. KG”. Heinz Wickrath becomes a partner.

After the war: from trade company to powerful industrial company 

Rudolf Ahleman

Catalogue page around 1950

Lantern around 1945/1950

• 1955: Heinz Wickrath, authorized signatory and employed at the company since the beginning of the 1950s, further develops the fluorescent lights to also be able to use these in shipping and fulfil their high quality requirements. The production of electrical navigation lanterns for the sports and leisure boat sector begins parallel to the fluorescent light development. An enormously large market opens to the expanded production assortment with the increasing volume of leisure boating at the beginning of the 1950s.

• 1952: Large sections of the factory burn down during a large-scale fire in October 1952. Damages of 250,000 DM are incurred.

•1950 – 1960: The restructuring from a trade company to a powerful industrial company occurs at the beginning of the 1950s. Stamping machines, presses and welding apparatus are purchased. In addition, women are working in the assembly for the first time. In addition to navigation lanterns and lights for ships, as well as decorative lanterns, fluorescent lamps are specifically produced for advertising signs. A completely new, but vigorously growing sales market develops.

• 1947: The electrical wholesale company is removed from the company and has been called Rudolf Ahlemann since. The company again moves into a business building in downtown Bremen. The factory grounds in Hemelingen are expanded by neighbouring properties via additional purchases.

• 1945: The business of the electrical wholesale company and the production in Hemelingen are resumed in one location after the war. Based on the regulations of the allies, there are problems in obtaining the materials. Production consists of lanterns, lamps, small ranges, water buckets, cooking pots, irons and other household objects, if possible based on the material situation.

The new century and through the wars 
Around 1900-1944

Production site around 1900

Georg Dietrich Ahlemann

Product overview around 1930

• 1939 – 44: The production for the Military is underway. Important parts for the defence industry, such as vent channels and steel cabinets for submarines as well as metal reinforcements for aircraft propellers, are produced by Ahlemann & Schlatter. The company must disband its foreign contacts at the order of the German government, which had a very negative effect during the post war years. Long and difficult negotiations had to be conducted with former customers after 1945 until these were prepared again to continue a business relationship again. During the war, the German Naval Observatory is requested to produce standard regulations for the inspection of navigation lanterns. Each part of lanterns must be produced according to these regulations. Georg Ahlemann presents the Navy shipyard models of the standard lantern in 1944. A correspondence with the standards sheets is defined. A few days later, Georg Ahlemann passes away and his son, Rudolf Ahlemann assumes management of the company. Ahlemann & Schlatter also were not spared by the war. The company building in downtown Bremen is completely destroyed in the fall of 1944.

• 1929: Due to “Black Friday”, there are enormous sales difficulties, personnel must be reduced to one supervisor and three apprentices. The company only rebounds with a large-scale order for stovepipes. The first foreign relations are made in the middle of the 1930s. The essential export regions are Romania, Norway and Memel. 

• 1925: In-house showrooms for the electrical wholesale company are constructed in downtown Bremen. The continuously increasing clientele soon requires a new expansion: the company obtains its first business building.

• 1923 – 1925: The regulations for navigation lanterns continued to evolve more since the turn of the century. New inspection regulations for the manufacture of navigation lanterns are introduced by the German Naval Observatory between 1923 and 1925, however, which are only applied in 1935. Ahlemann & Schlatter employed 12 to 14 metal workers at the end of the 1920s; the copper lanterns are still exclusively produced by hand. The company receives its first large-scale order: the equipment of the passenger liner “Bremen” with various lights and lanterns.

• 1914 – 1918: Essentially production for the imperial Navy. Ahlemann & Schlatter stay above water during the post war period with the production of metal goods from forerunners. Metal buckets, washbasins and such are manufactured. Things are picking up again in 1924.

• 1911: The first electrical machines are produced with access to public power.  The result: in addition to the physical relief, production can be accelerated and the product assortment can be expanded. Electrical lights are included in the assortment for the first time. An electrical wholesale operation is added to the metal goods company in Hemelingen.

• 1908: Georg Dietrich Ahlemann takes over the company from his father, who is retiring from the business world.

• Around 1900: The commercial and passenger shipping continues to blossom. The first navigation lights  which are subjected to the German Auditing process of the German Naval Observatory are produced.

The beginning 

Founder of the firm, Franz Ludwig Reinhard Ahlemann.

Pricelist from 1895

First petroleum navigation light

• 1896: Richard Schlatter passes away. Franz Ahlemann continues to manage the company.

• 1890: The first significant exhibit by Ahlemann & Schlatter at the Northern German Trade and Industry Fair in Bremen. The company caused excitement and is accentuated by the press as specialist for marine and deep-sea fishing products.

• 1870/1871: Ahlemann & Schlatter begin trading in petroleum after the German-French War.  A storage depot is purchased in Hemelingen to store the petroleum imported from America due to its favourable transportation access. The founders established their own production plant for petroleum navigation lights and kerosene lamps. The navigation lights only slowly establish a foothold, since the laws for carrying navigation light change frequently. The kerosene lamps are sold in grocery stores for lighting their business premises as well as personal households.

• 1868: Franz Ludwig Reinhard Ahlemann and Richard Theodor Hermann Schlatter established the commercial enterprise of Ahlemann & Schlatter in downtown Bremen dealing in construction and combustible materials.