Katsa is developing new systems for its range of clutches and gearboxes while Dellner and Twin Disc have recently made significant acquisitions, writes Ed Martin
While the basic mechanics behind a gearbox may not change much, there is always scope for optimisation. New technologies are helping better mate transmissions to applications such as hybrid or even fully electric-powered vessels, and the machinery can be customised to meet specific project needs.
Finnish gear component and gearbox manufacturer Katsa develops bespoke gearboxes for use on land. In recent years it has shifted its marine strategy to start implementing its land-based clutch and power take-off (PTO) gearbox applications to the waterborne market.
Marine projects often have specific requirements, for example optimising a diesel engine’s running speed with a hydraulic pump’s speed, which means some degree of tailoring is necessary.
Katsa offers semi-standardised, high-modularity power take-off systems. In practical terms this means providing multifunctional base housings that can be machined in different ways and equipped with components to meet the requirements of a given project. This compromise between bespoke equipment and off-the-shelf systems allows the company to provide tailored products while meeting expectations in terms of budget and turnaround time.
Katsa is also developing a hybrid PTO gearbox that can be installed on workboats, tugboats, offshore support and fishing vessels that have electric and diesel propulsion and auxiliary machinery.
The hybrid PTO gearbox will be introduced to Katsa’s existing range at the SMM exhibition in September. The design is based on the company’s existing PTO gearboxes and has been adapted to fit on to diesel-driven and electric motors in a vessel’s propulsion driveline.
Katsa sales manager Mikko Happonen said these hybrid PTO gearboxes will have “wide flexibility for adjusting the electric motor ratio, utilising different clutches and control systems.” These adjustments will be similar to the flexibility already afforded by the existing Katsa range for propulsion and machinery on workboats, offshore support and fishing vessels and tugboats.
Its gearboxes are tailored to suit each combination of vessel and owner requirements, said Mr Happonen, with typical tasks such as generating hydraulic power supplies for machinery on various types of workboats. These PTO gearboxes can also be used for driving and engaging cargo pumps on commercial vessels, or mud pumps in oil and gas applications, he added. Since September 2016, these gearboxes can also be used for marine fire-fighting, including on FiFi classed vessels.
The gearboxes are designed to manage power of up to 1,200 kW and clutch torques to a maximum of 16,000 Nm, depending on the application and gearbox/clutch configurations. Gear ratios can be adapted to suit project requirements.
Katsa has also developed an integrated control system that helps vessel operators extend the lifetime and performance of the gearboxes and clutches. “The control system can be either integrated into the main control or act separately as a stand-alone unit with a panel on the vessel’s bridge,” said Mr Happonen.
Its existing PTO gearboxes and clutches have water coolers and independent oil circulation, with pumps that have integrated oil sumps. The hydraulic block has an integrated oil filter that was designed for marine applications. Optional additions to the gearbox include integrated controls and clutch protection, which will also be available for the hybrid PTO range when that is introduced in September.
Katsa has also identified a need for different clutch gearboxes and PTOs for main propulsion thrust equipment and is consequently developing a new series of modular clutch PTO gearboxes. The basic design of these will be able to be adapted to meet the requirements of various class societies.
Depending on the gearbox’s application, these propulsion PTO clutch units can be fully direct drive between the driving and driven units, or can be equipped with suitable clutch solutions. Standardised add-ons such as flywheel housings, manifolds, filters and coolers will be available. An example of this gearbox series in diesel-electric hybrid PTO clutch configuration will be displayed at SMM.
New electrohydraulic braking system
Meanwhile, following the acquisition of German brake manufacturer Pintsch Bubenzer in January, Dellner Brakes has joined forces with its new subsidiary to produce a new electrohydraulic braking system.
The Swedish brake manufacturer and its sister company are launching the “plug and play” system at this year’s SMM.
The new system provides a compact self-contained system to stop, turn and lock (STL) ship propeller shafts.
The system combines elements of Dellner Brakes’ STL systems with Pintsch Bubenzer’s BUEL electrohydraulic thruster/power package. It does not incorporate any external piping and the BUEL package uses only half a litre of high-performance synthetic oil (as compared with standard hydraulic power units, which use seven litres of hydraulic oil), making it cheaper to run and more environmentally friendly.
The system comprises a Pintsch Bubenzer BUEL Model G, which can deliver up to 240 bar of pressure, and a Dellner disc brake that has a stopping torque of up to 1,026 kilonewtons. Options can also be exercised to add a locking device, which can be powered hydraulically, electrically or manually, with a locking force of up to 1,000 kN, and an electrical continuous turning device.
Dellner’s STL are modular units suited to hybrid and mechanical propulsion and can be operated remotely from an electronic push button panel in a control room, by a handheld remote control, or from a mobile device if there is wifi on board.
These STLs include an electrical disc brake that quickly stops the shaft in any position. After the brake has stopped the disc, an electric gear wheel turns the disc and connected shaft at a variable speed into an exact position for locking, explained Dellner Brakes chief executive Marcus Aberg. Once in position, the locking mechanism pushes a tapered pin into a machined slot on the brake disc. “This locks and holds the shaft securely in place, even in ship failure modes,” he said.
Vessel operators can choose one, two or all three of the STL functions. “Our all-electric STL is the first of its kind and has a patent pending,” said Mr Aberg. “It is fully automated so the operator can instigate the entire stopping, turning and locking procedure with a single press of a button.”
There are machinery safety applications, too. For example, an STL can secure a propeller if the vessel is drifting or is buffeted by waves, preventing damage to the shaft and bearings. When in harbour, it can rotate the shaft through 180˚ to stop the shaft from bending. “Shaft rotation can also exercise water-lubricated bearings and help reduce marine growth on the propeller blades, all without needing to turn on the engines,” said Mr Aberg.
Dellner’s standard range has a stopping torque of up to 285 kNm, turning torque up to 119 kN and locking torque up to 600 kNm. Electric STLs can also be adapted for higher torques where requested.
“Our system enables faster directional changes with maximum manoeuvrability,” said Mr Aberg. This is useful for quickly stopping the propeller when alternating from forward to reverse or locking the shaft to avoid drag, especially in narrow or shallow water.
It can be applied to twin propeller or multiple screw vessels as it can be used to stop, hold and lock one of the shafts while the others are operating at reduced speed, or at full speed for safe return to port. Mr Aberg added that an STL can also hold a broken shaft or propeller in place while others are operating.
“The turning and locking functions make routine maintenance and blade assembly quicker, easier and safer.” STLs can be used for turning the shaft and propeller for inspection and lock it securely for maintenance.
Mr Aberg said an electrical STL requires less downtime and there is “no need for oil changes or expensive pressure testing.” He said it is applicable to small- to medium-sized vessels including tugs, ferries and offshore support vessels. “Being electrically powered, it helps lower fuel consumption and reduces load on propulsion systems and offers considerable safety benefits,” he said.
Twin Disc marks 100th anniversary with Veth acquisition
Racine, Wisconsin-based power transmission technology specialist Twin Disc celebrated its 100th anniversary in April this year, followed in July by an announcement that it would acquire thruster maker Veth Propulsion.
The company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Veth Propulsion, a global supplier of main and auxiliary marine propulsion products, in a deal valued between US$58M and US$62M
This purchase is expected to cost around US$58.6M, with potential adjustments based on Veth Propulsion’s working capital and performance. This deal diversifies Twin Disc’s geographic position, marine markets and products.
Twin Disc said it would finance this acquisition through a combination of cash and creating new debt facilities.
There would be add-ons of up to US$3.9M, to be paid in Twin Disc common stock, if certain earn-out provisions are met.
Veth Propulsion is headquartered in Papendrecht, the Netherlands, and produces propulsion and power control products and associated services. This includes azimuth rudder propellers, thrusters and generator sets, mainly for workboats, tugs, passenger ships and merchant ships.
The two companies have worked together since December 2015, when Veth Propulsion selected Twin Disc as its distributor for selected Asian markets. This relationship was expanded in 2016 with a North American distribution partnership.
Twin Disc chief executive officer and president John Batten said the acquisition will “strategically expand our global market and increase our size, scale, and scope within the marine industry”.
He added that Veth Propulsion’s hybrid drive and integrated L-drive technology “will open new markets and opportunities for growth”. This year, Veth Propulsion is expected to achieve sales of US$60M.
As part of this acquisition, Twin Disc has secured a US$50M asset-based line of credit and US$35M of term notes.
In recent years, Twin Disc has supplied transmission systems to vessels in a range of operational areas, such as oil spill response unit G.M. Penman, Artic Circle-based shallow-water landing craft Unalaq, fast supply vessel Alya McCall and fast supply catamarans Seacor Panther and Seacor Puma.
The company is seeing the Veth acquisition bear fruit already, with Barbour JB Shipyard of St Louis Missouri, a longtime user of Twin Disc’s reduction gears, opting to fit Veth thrusters on a currently under-construction harbour tug.