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Tug Technology & Business

Tug propulsion and automation systems revealed at Europort

Tue 07 Nov 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

Tug propulsion and automation systems revealed at Europort
Veth has introduced L-drive with counter-rotating propellers for shallow draught tug operations

Some of the latest technology for tugs was introduced at the Europort exhibition in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in early November

Tug operators were introduced to new propulsion, automation and wheelhouse technology at the Europort exhibition in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Tug Technology & Business was given access to the latest thruster technology from Veth Propulsion, which introduced its integrated electric-driven L-drive at the event.

Veth has reduced the size of its thruster drive and included a nozzle propeller into its latest electric-controlled propulsion device. This has been developed to minimise the amount of engineroom space that the drive needs and lower the noise generated from the thruster, said Veth service manager Jan van Stenis.

As of 7 November, the L-drive was available with a power range of up 1,500 kW, but Veth is developing these drives up to 2,350 kW. Permanent magnet motors drive the thruster, meaning “there are fewer moving parts and a compact unit in an engineroom,” he explained. These motors were designed in collaboration with Visedo. On average, a premanent magnet motor is 40% to 60% more compact than an asynchronous motor.

“There are fewer moving parts and a compact unit in an engineroom”

Another modification has been made to the gearbox body. This links the thruster drive to the propelles, causing drag and impacting the water streamline to the propeller. To mitigate both, Veth designed “a fin that is off-centre so the streamline is optimised, as calculated by computational fluid dynamics,” said Mr van Stenis.

He explained that tugs that require a shallow draught could operate with two single-screw L-drives, arranged to have nozzles and smaller diameter propellers, one on the port and the other on starboard, plus a bow tunnel thruster for maximum manoeuvrability..

Ulstein Power & Control used Europort to introduce its integrated X-Connect automation, alarm monitoring and power control systems. Ulstein product owner Jonas Wenström said the X-Connect alarm monitoring system (AMS) includes input-output devices, control processors, data logs and digital information panel.

This can be expanded into an integrated automation system by adding more of these components and having a double network for redundancy. Ulstein has also developed an X-Connect power management system that is “configurable, modular and flexible” said Mr Wenström.

An X-Connect integrated bridge system also includes graphical user interfaces that were “redesigned for easy use, to be standardised, but with flexibility.” Ulstein created a library of graphical interfaces so operators can customise workstations. “Our software uses a Linux operating system and the user interface technology has dashboards and fast graphics that come from the automotive industry,” he said.

Radio Holland has developed a remote monitoring box that could be installed on ocean-going tugs. This collects real-time data and bridge equipment alerts from vessels and sends them over satellite or coastal communications networks to a shore-based monitoring centre. Radio Holland chief executive Paul Smulders said this data can be used to diagnose anomalies, such as unavailability of a tug’s communications equipment because of a fault.

“We can act on issues and recognise problems from our office in Rotterdam”

“We can act on issues and recognise problems from our office in Rotterdam,” he said, adding that this includes VHF radio and devices that link to mobile phone networks. Radio Holland project manager Hendrik Impens said safety communications equipment and other bridge devices will be connected to a vessel’s remote monitoring box through Ethernet lines in the future.

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