INNOVATIVE FINNISH TECHNOLOGY CONQUERS THE SEVEN SEAS
It’s a well-appreciated fact that Steerprop builds the finest azimuth propulsors in the world, designed to support the rising tide to save the seas. Combining efficiency with ecology, Steerprop’s CRP ECO product line not only saves fuel and improves operational performance, but in doing so also helps shape the future world of marine.
“For us, it is all-important to help ships and shipbuilders become future-proof,” states Steerprop’s Sales and Marketing Director Mika Koli. He compares this with the development in wind energy: “In 10 years’ time, development has reduced the production costs of wind energy below those of coal power. This progress has largely been enabled by the massive R&D resources working towards the same goals in the wind energy – an army of wise engineers by far outnumbering that in the marine sector. Still we shouldn’t be envious. A positive development in one industry will pave the way in another.”
So do we know what’s going to happen in marine? Perhaps not so clearly. But clearly enough to decide that we need to focus on building ships with flexible technology, capable of exploiting the power sources of the future, more likely diesel-electric and hybrid than diesel-mechanic. That really matters because energy can absolutely not be wasted in the future.
This is where Steerprop’s CRP ECO is designed to deliver: The contra-rotating propellers are more efficient than single propellers. The construction also requires smaller gears and smaller underwater housings, which lead to lower hydrodynamic resistance. As a good example of the company’s vigorous product development, Steerprop CRP ECO is optimized for a wide array of operational profiles without compromising efficiency, which has proven to be excellent both in open water and icy conditions. Its unsurpassed benefits include increased fuel savings as well as lower noise levels and emissions.
Nobody can conquer the seven seas alone. Ever since it was founded in 2000, Steerprop has been cooperating with ATA Gears to get the best possible support for its innovative development in mechanical power transmission. And the speed of joint research has steadily been increasing. Originally Steerprop chose ATA as its development partner, since “in the world of mechanical power transmission and bevel gears in particular, there are not many credible suppliers,” Jari Vanhatalo, Steerprop’s Design Team Manager recalls the reasons that originally sparked the cooperation.
“I’d say this is as streamlined as technical cooperation can get.”
The emphasis in the cooperation has been very straightforward and technical: ATA delivers bevel gears and pinion shafts, and Steerprop puts them to work in its propulsors for vessels in the arctic, offshore and cruise industries. In technical planning, ATA has helped with the simulation of the loads on the gear’s contact pattern, for example, to achieve the most robust possible yet not over-dimensioned pair of gears.
“For us, this is a good example of a comprehensive and sustained technical design process, where ATA’s mechanical power transmission experts have made a notable and rewarding contribution to the customer’s success. This is exactly the kind of cooperation we want to be involved in,” says ATA’s Sales Manager Janne Koukkula proudly.
Steerprop’s Jari Vanhatalo explains further: “We are often the ones who are proactive, since we know the technical needs. It’s almost always me who contacts ATA’s Chief Gear Engineer, Jesse Rontu. This makes our approach both direct and personal. I make a request for help with a technical challenge. They come back with a proposal to solve it – solution with comments: I’d say this is as streamlined as technical cooperation can get. No wonder it’s producing good results.”
Jari Vanhatalo is also satisfied with the lead time and applicability of the advice that Steerprop gets from ATA’s technical consulting. “They always keep their promises,” he underlines, “which is of paramount importance for us to be able to keep ours.” All in all, Steerprop seems keen to participate in further cooperation with ATA to upgrade technologies for even more added value. So, sail on, Finnish engineering skills!