Customers are demanding integrated propulsion and thruster packages and looking for increasingly greener solutions, writes Ed Martin
In March 2017, thruster-maker Brunvoll acquired Scana Propulsion, a supplier of gear and propeller systems with associated control systems, and its subsidiaries Scana Volda and Scana Mar-El. At the time, Brunvoll chief executive Odd Tore Finnøy described the goal of the takeover as “to create a win-win situation for both companies, which together can offer our customers even better and comprehensive solutions for both propulsion and operation of advanced vessels.” Marine Propulsion's sister title Norwegian Solutions spoke with Mr Finnøy in May 2018, just over a year on from the acquisition, to hear how the merged entity was faring and what he felt the future might hold for Brunvoll and Norway’s maritime industries more generally.
“Strategically we were very interested in increasing our product portfolio to deliver bigger projects, to deliver a bigger package to the customer which they were asking us for,” Mr Finnøy said of the acquisition.
He explained that Scana Propulsion’s product range, especially regarding forward propulsion, complimented that offered by Brunvoll, which focuses on thrusters for manoeuvring and positioning. Customers were keen to have “one common responsibility for the package that covers propulsion, manoeuvring and positioning of the ship,” and while independently Brunvoll and Scana Propulsion were unable to provide this, the acquisition made it possible for the companies to jointly offer this.
Mr Finnøy noted that Brunvoll has delivered contracts on this basis in several vessel segments, including ropax vessels, special cargo tankers, fishery vessels and expedition cruise vessels.
Discussing the uptick in the oil price, Mr Finnøy said in general he had not yet noticed an increased demand for newbuilds. “Where we see the improvements coming already is in the aftersales service market,” he said, noting vessels that have been cold-stacked for a while but are now receiving new charters or being sold require recertification and may have service issues before they can re-enter service. This has led to Brunvoll’s aftersales market experiencing a boom, he said, noting that along with oil and gas vessels winning new charters, the cruise market has also been an area of growth.
Mr Finnøy said the US EPA’s requirement for environmentally acceptable lubricants to be used on vessels to be granted a vessel general permit (VGP) has also resulted in a “high load in the aftersales market.” These three factors – vessels coming out of lay-up, the growth in the cruise market, and the EPA's VGP requirements – have acted as growth engines for the aftersales market, he added.
Looking to the future, Mr Finnoy said “The market in general is improving and several segments have for several years had good conditions and a higher number of newbuilds,” citing fish-farming, fishing vessels, special cargo vessels, ropax vessels and expedition cruise vessels as examples. He noted offshore oil and gas had been the market driver for many years and when newbuild activity in this area for the Norwegian shipbuilding sector dried up completely, both Brunvoll and the wider sector were keen to know what would come next. Mr Finnoy believes this question has now been answered.
“Almost two years ago we started speaking about green shipping – environmental and sustainable shipping and maritime activities. I think everyone has now discovered and is a little bit surprised by how fast this is going”, he said. He believes there are certain segments that are going “very, very hard” down the green shipping route and acting as technology drivers. Looking at shuttle car ferries in particular, Mr Finnøy noted that new contracts for such vessels – frequently from state-owned bodies – have very tough demands for either no emissions or very low emissions. The result has been the development of fully electric vessels that make use of battery banks, charging when they dock at either end of their route to load up with vehicles. Such innovations are both technology and market drivers, Mr Finnøy said, and are spreading to other sectors.
“Other shipowners are starting to ask for solutions with less fuel consumption, less power and energy consumption” he said, adding some owners are even looking at 100% battery-driven vessels. He noted LNG is increasingly in demand, including as part of a hybrid solution with batteries for utilisation in peak shaving, in lots of areas, including in the cruise, fishery and shuttle tanker sectors. “This is affecting us of course, we have to be very focused on energy consumption to increase the overall efficiency rate,” he said. During the years of difficult market conditions, Brunvoll has continued to make efforts in both business and product development in a range of areas. “We see the market really asks that every project we are working with has some interest in reducing fuel or energy usage,” he said.
”It is an interesting subject, how the market is developing, and we see the top-level focus on new and sustainable development goals coming into operation on every project we are working with – the shipowners, the shipyards, the ship designers, everyone is occupied by this,” he said, adding “It is good to experience for all of us.”
Stadt brings its lean propulsion to world markets
Gjerdsvika-based Stadt has seen its no-loss lean drives installed on two of Topaz’ anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessels, and has also targeted the US market for growth this year.
Dubai-based Topaz has installed Stadt’s technology on Topaz Master and Topaz Mariner, AHTS vessels with a bollard pull of 90 tonnes, a dynamic positioning class of DP2 and a dwt of 2,000. Each AHTS measures 64.8 m long by 16 m wide.
Stadt announced in January this year it had signed an agreement with WA Technical Sales for representation in the Gulf of Mexico, as part of a push to target the global maritime market.
Stadt chief executive Hallvard Slettevoll said the company sees a general trend toward full diesel-electric or LNG-electric solutions for a range of ships, both commercial and naval, and that this is reflected in the US market.
He added “Our lean propulsion technology represents unique stealth and noise-free technology, a game changer for naval ships in particular. We at Stadt register a tremendous interest for our extremely compact and robust patented solutions worldwide.”
The no-loss drive technology claims big advantages over traditional PWM (pulse width modulation) technology, because it is free from electric disturbances. It sends voltage and current to the electric motor and back to the main switchboard in the form of a sine wave, which results in low harmonic disturbance. The electric drives can be used alongside any main shipboard power source, including diesel, LNG, hybrid, and battery.
According to Stadt, this configuration offers a sustainable solution, because it reduces fuel consumption by up to 6%, reduces NOx, SOx and CO2 emissions, reduces maintenance and high redundancy, and noise. It has an estimated lifetime of 25 years and is available up to 100 MW in voltages up to 15 kV.
Stadt’s lean technology is fitted aboard more than 30 ships, the company said.