Sign In
Information about science based innovations, solid facts to support decision-making, performance and business development for VTT’s partners, customers and anyone interested in high technology and its applications.
A magazine on science, technology and business

​​

Boost for propeller development

Antti A. Lagus | 5.6.2014

​Wärtsilä, supplier of versatile maritime solutions, has opened a new propulsion test centre in Tuusula. Intended for the validation of Wärtsilä’s product range of azimuth propulsion units, the centre was developed in collaboration with VTT and industrial companies. VTT provides the resources for operating the test centre, which will also apply a new kind of R&D approach: joint innovation.

Propellers, the part of the propulsion system that provides the thrust to move a ship forwards through the water, and occasionally backwards, are generally of three types: fixed pitch propellers, controllable pitch propellers, or azimuth thrusters. 

Wärtsilä, in collaboration with VTT, has been developing a new product range of azimuth thrusters that will enhance vessel manoeuvrability. Azimuth thrusters are used primarily in tugboats, service vessels and ice-going vessels such as icebreakers.

The propulsions systems are designed at the Wärtsilä facility in the Netherlands, with production plants located in Italy and China. For Elias Boletis, Director of Propulsion Programs and Technologies at Wärtsilä, R&D means three things: product development, technology development, and research of a more general nature with other parties. Wärtsilä collaborates with VTT in all three.

The testing equipment introduced at Tuusula last November is a new high point in more than 18 years of cooperation between Wärtsilä and VTT. One of the many areas explored by the partners during that time is the vibration and noise control of ship engines and diesel generator systems. Cooperation on the propulsion unit began in 2010. The preparation of next-generation products revealed the necessity for a good testing environment.


Ecosystem under construction

– We are trying to build a certain kind of ecosystem around this test centre, and to bring in as many participants as possible to test their equipment and components. We will also attempt to combine the results with those of our suppliers and customers. This is a model where ideas are being thrown around and upgraded, says Boletis.

Boletis thinks the working atmosphere with VTT has been very good. VTT has also been able to deliver the assignments on schedule, and their quality has been excellent.

The decision was taken to build the test centre in Finland because of VTT’s excellent experience in experimental research and building and operating testing environments. VTT also has the necessary measuring devices and measurement experience. 

This is a programme comprising several projects connected with propellers or applications of various sizes, some of which are already on the market. VTT has approximately 20 people participating in the programme.

The testing equipment was installed in an industrial hall leased from the Finnish Defence Forces. Although the hall had previously served as maintenance depot for armoured vehicles, its floor needed further reinforcement for testing equipment that weighs approximately one hundred tons.


Strict validation process

The test centre replicates the actual operating environment by connecting the propeller to a generator and frequency converter, as it would be on a ship. Because the propeller is out of the water, cooling is provided through showering, and the forces on the propeller simulated by means of hydraulic cylinders. 

– The testing equipment in Tuusula is used for product validation. Each new propulsion system undergoes a strict validation process prior to entering the market. Here the testing equipment will be a great help, says Boletis.

– Even after operating for only three months, we have already established reference data for new tests. Azimuth thrusters are part of our current product range. The tests also covered new environmentally friendly lubricants already in use in the United States and elsewhere. We first wanted to find out how these lubricants affect our azimuth propulsion units. This took us about a month and a half, but now we are ready to build the procedures that will help us and our end customers, says Boletis.

The results will help Wärtsilä modify its operating methods and make system adjustments that ensure the lubricants function correctly. According to Boletis, the questions being asked are not black and white, but the starting point was to establish new ways of operation. 


Joint innovation around the same table

A new operating method is being tested in collaboration with partners: joint innovation. The programme also involves universities and suppliers, including Tampere University of Technology, Luleå University of Technology, Dresden University of Technology, and Munich University of Technology. Companies involved include SKF and ATA Gears. The aim here is to use the material accrued as a basis for academic dissertations, among others.

Jouko Suokas, VTT’s Executive Vice Pre​sident, Smart Industry and Energy Systems, explains that projects have traditionally been run as Tekes- or EU-financed projects which then advance to product development. Here the participants sit around the same table and, instead of one person saying what to do, each contributes personal ideas in joint innovation.

Suokas considers the cooperation with Wärtsilä an excellent example of how to develop strategic partnerships, engaging significantly more brain capacity in exploring the problems. The Wärtsilä environment provides an excellent experimental R&D opportunity for this totally novel way of operating.


Targeting more efficient and lighter equipment

Pekka Koskinen, Technology Manager at VTT, adds that VTT is operating in accordance with its mission in aiming to create industrial jobs in Finland. The joint development ecosystem is the way of the future for producing the products of the future. Where the previous approach was from various angles, these perspectives are now combined into a single entity.

– We are aiming to build more efficient and lighter equipment that consumes less energy, has fewer energy losses and uses environmentally friendly lubricants, says Koskinen.

The testing equipment will help us understand the forces exerted by water and ice on propulsion devices. The aim of the programme is to produce more compact products and to enhance the reliability of equipment. This also has significant implications for equipment maintenance, which is why Wärtsilä is investing in real-time monitoring of vessels through its servicing centres.


 

 

VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseVTT Impulse
Road safety to a new level using 5Ghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Road-safety-to-a-new-level-using-5G.aspxRoad safety to a new level using 5G
Telaketju is changing our understanding of textile recyclinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Telaketju-is-changing-our-understanding-of-textile-recycling.aspxTelaketju is changing our understanding of textile recycling
Towards carbon-neutral materialshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-carbon-neutral-materials.aspxTowards carbon-neutral materials
What and how will people eat in the future?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/What-and-how-will-people-eat-in-the-future.aspxWhat and how will people eat in the future?
Recycling of critical metalshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Recycling-of-critical-metals.aspxRecycling of critical metals
Towards patient-centred, personalised healthcarehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-patient-centred-personalised-healthcare.aspxTowards patient-centred, personalised healthcare
Online banking for stiff fingers and weak eyeshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Online-banking-for-stiff-fingers-and-weak-eyes.aspxOnline banking for stiff fingers and weak eyes
The autonomous world is already herehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-autonomous-world-is-already-here.aspxThe autonomous world is already here
Cyber security modelled on the vaccination programmehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cyber-security-modelled-on-the-vaccination-programme.aspxCyber security modelled on the vaccination programme
Renewing industrial practices creates a new competitive edgehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Renewing-industrial-practices-creates-a-new-competitive-edge.aspxRenewing industrial practices creates a new competitive edge
Smarter products and modules – produced more efficientlyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smarter-products-and-modules-–-produced-more-efficiently.aspxSmarter products and modules – produced more efficiently
New materials developed from plantshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-materials-developed-from-plants.aspxNew materials developed from plants
A better world based on positive energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-better-world-based-on-positive-energy.aspxA better world based on positive energy
Advancing cyber security on several frontshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Advancing-cyber-security-on-several-fronts.aspxAdvancing cyber security on several fronts
All sights on generationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/All-sights-on-generation.aspxAll sights on generation
A machine is more humanehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-machine-is-more-humane.aspxA machine is more humane
Are environmental claims believable?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Are-environmental-claims-believable.aspxAre environmental claims believable?
At the digital forefront of mininghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-digital-forefront-of-mining.aspxAt the digital forefront of mining
Business angel speaks out: Growth from the international arenahttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-angel-speaks-out-Growth-from-the-international-arena.aspxBusiness angel speaks out: Growth from the international arena
Business for transportationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-for-transportation.aspxBusiness for transportation
Can a phone help you achieve peace of mind?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Can-a-phone-help-you-achieve-peace-of-mind.aspxCan a phone help you achieve peace of mind?
Challenges conceal opportunitieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Challenges-conceal-opportunities.aspxChallenges conceal opportunities
Cleaner city traffic with wood-based dieselhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cleaner-city-traffic-with-wood-based-diesel.aspxCleaner city traffic with wood-based diesel
Comfy but energy efficient homeshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Comfy-but-energy-efficient-homes.aspxComfy but energy efficient homes
Converting rags to design clotheshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
Cyber security requires more than just technological competenceshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cyber-security-requires-more-than-just-technological-competences.aspxCyber security requires more than just technological competences
Designers needed in printed technologyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
Tua Huomo: Energy production and use – smart choices have an impacthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Energy-production-and-use–smart-choices-an-impact.aspxTua Huomo: Energy production and use – smart choices have an impact
Finland is good investmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-is-good-investment.aspxFinland is good investment
Finnish expertise for solving global problemshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-expertise-for-solving-global-problems.aspxFinnish expertise for solving global problems
Finnish fuel cell technology aims for the worldhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-fuel-cell-technology-aims-for-the-world.aspxFinnish fuel cell technology aims for the world
From a fishing port to a model district for smart energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-a-fishing-port-to-a-model-district-for-smart-energy.aspxFrom a fishing port to a model district for smart energy
Health benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food qualityhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-benefits-and-efficiency-without-sacrificing-food-quality.aspxHealth benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food quality
How to become a leading country in flexible energy production systemshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/How-to-become-a-leading-country-in-flexible-energy-production-systems.aspxHow to become a leading country in flexible energy production systems
Impulse 1/2016https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2016.aspxImpulse 1/2016
Impulse 2/2016https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2016.aspxImpulse 2/2016
Impulse 2/2017https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2017.aspxImpulse 2/2017
Industrial 3D printing takes offhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Industrial-3D-printing-takes-off.aspxIndustrial 3D printing takes off
Intelligence for machineshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
LEO brings intelligence to cylindershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/LEO-brings-intelligence-to-cylinders.aspxLEO brings intelligence to cylinders
Matti Apunen: A problem called excellencehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Matti-Apunen-A-problem-called-excellence.aspxMatti Apunen: A problem called excellence
Minister of Energy would like to expand emissions tradinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Minister-of-Energy-would-like-to-expand-emissions-trading.aspxMinister of Energy would like to expand emissions trading
Modelling and simulation facilitateshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Modelling-and-simulation-facilitates.aspxModelling and simulation facilitates
More than siliconhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/More-than-just-Silicon.aspxMore than silicon
Pekka Soini’s Business Finland is an "internationalisation channel" for companieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Pekka-Soini’s-Business-Finland-is-an-internationalisation-channel-for-companies.aspxPekka Soini’s Business Finland is an "internationalisation channel" for companies
Petri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deedshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Petri-Kalliokoski-Artificial-intelligence-moves-from-words-to-deeds.aspxPetri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deeds
Plasma treatment spurs material developmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Plasma-treatment-spurs-material-development.aspxPlasma treatment spurs material development
Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn: Renewal of economy will bring new growthhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Renewal-of-economy-will-bring-new-growth.aspxMinister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn: Renewal of economy will bring new growth