Pushing things forward

An integral part of ABB’s global operations, a network of divisions and subsidiaries employing over 100,000 people in more than 100 countries, ABB Marine in Finland has been in the business of developing and manufacturing marine propulsion products since the early part of the 20th century.

The ABB Group is an international business specialising in power and automation technologies, its presence felt in over 100 countries across the globe. Organised into a number of disciplinary business units, ABB Marine and Cranes is one such unit, employing more than 1000 people in more than 20 countries including China, Singapore, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Electric propulsion system manufacturing in Finland started out providing propulsion to domestic icebreakers in the 1930s but following ABB’s acquisition of a domestic engineering company in 1980s, this business has expanded tremendously in the years since.

Providing innovative, reliable, safe and environmentally friendly solutions and qualified services that reduce operational costs, and ensure optimum vessel lifecycles for its customers, ABB Marine is supported by its parent company’s direct presence and dedicated marine service centers that are strategically located throughout the world. With each delivery these customers gained a qualified marine services partner that offers a total service that includes after-sales and support functions.

As well as electrical propulsion systems the company also specialises in power generation and distribution solutions, various onboard drives, and vessel information and control systems. From its centre of excellence in Finland the company sells mainly to customers operating within the cruise line industry, however it has also carried out extensive work in the past on all manner of vessels, from supply boats and ice going vessels to luxury yachts.

Offering a complete range of electro-technical solutions for the world fleet, ABB’s systems are based on industry-leading technology within electric power, drives and automation, and have for decades been proven to meet the high demands of all marine and offshore applications. One of the cornerstones in building ABB Marine’s international reputation is the success of its Azipod product. When this steerable propulsion unit for electrical propulsion systems first appeared two decades ago it revolutionised the azimuth thruster market by introducing a number of benefits over shaft and gearbox models. As a result of its pulling propeller design, hydro dynamical efficiency is improved, meaning that a lower fuel consumption level and a lower environmental footprint is achieved.

In an effort to bring a product that was first used in the 1980s into the 21st century, the company launched the Azipod XO in the autumn of 2009. Taking all the elements of the existing system, redesigning some whilst retaining others, the resulting product achieves a two per cent improvement on hydraulic efficiency compared to its predecessor the Azipod VO, thereby reducing fuel costs and making servicing the thruster an easier task to carry out.

Supporting this new development, ABB Marine has co-operated with Finnish marine software development company Eniram to produce the Azipod Dynamic Optimiser (ADO). This onboard management system calculates factors such as wind, current and vessel speed, and then automatically adjusts the Azipod to an optimal toe angle in order to further reduce the fuel consumption.

In December 2011, ABB announced the strengthening of its position in marine automation and control. To better serve the needs of this market, the company has established a global vessel information and control organisation to develop automation solutions for marine applications, based on ABB’s field-proven process technologies.

As ship owners ready themselves to meet new environmental regulations, whilst continuing their promise to lower onboard energy use and fuel consumption, the demand for upgraded vessel information and control systems has only increased further. These owners can take comfort in knowing that ABB’s automation and control technologies have been proven time and time again to provide the necessary visibility and control required to achieve these goals, reducing operating costs at the same time.

Commitment to ongoing research and development has helped ABB Marine maintain business prospects even during the turbulent days of the recession. The market is now picking up once again but the industry’s priorities have shifted, with an intensified drive towards cost savings. ABB Marine’s developments of fuel and energy efficient green technology have positioned it at the forefront of this burgeoning concern, while its commitment to innovation means it is well placed to remain one of the world’s leading players in the field of marine propulsion.

Driven by innovation
A dedicated service partner
Focus on environmental protection