Cat® Marine Hybrid Thrusters

Jonas Nyberg

Regional Sales Manager - South East Asia & Oceania

“Our industry is dealing with fuel costs and the steadily increasing complexity of ship systems. The Cat Marine Hybrid Thruster system helps address both of these challenges.”

+65 6828 7386
nyberg_jonas_l@cat.com


Why does the Cat® Marine Hybrid Thruster system represent an exciting development?

Caterpillar has worked on a number of hybrid controls previously for a variety of conventional controllable pitch propeller (CPP) installations, as well as participating in other similar installations with azimuth thrusters with other manufacturers’ controls. This new development is the first system that combines Cat azimuth thrusters with the knowledge and experience we have acquired through our conventional propulsion systems. The end result is a fully integrated, one-source, mechanical/electrical hybrid control for our Cat azimuth thrusters.

How does this technology deliver more power with less fuel?

Vessels usually have a broad range of operating modes from low power to high power. Having the ability to run in an electric mode while at lower power outputs provides a leaner and efficient way of powering vessels. Additionally, our systems allow the operator to downsize the main engine and make up the difference with the electrical power from the generator sets – further helping the main engines to run more efficiently.

What are the trends in the industry today?

The trends have been toward finding ways to further reduce and optimize drivetrain installations. The challenge, as always, has been how to make them cost competitive and easy to manage. We’ve tackled this challenge simply by not adding more equipment for the controls and integration portion, but rather to integrate into the existing propulsion controls. This makes it very lean and seamless for the operator.

Can you talk about Cat’s holistic approach to optimizing vessel operations?

We’ve been investing time and expertise over the past few years into tools to better benchmark and compare different ways of powering and propelling vessels. This is a value-based equipment selection approach where we meet with a customer and create a benchmark of various alternatives considering a combination of operating expenses and capital expenditures. Doing this before the vessel is designed has proven to be the best approach. Caterpillar has the expertise on equipment, operation and hydrodynamics to add value to the discussion.

What types of vessels are a logical fit for this technology?

The new mechanical/electrical thruster setup has already been discussed for a variety of tugs since they have an operating profile that varies quite a lot. The biggest fuel consumption savings will be found for vessels operating in dynamical positioning (DP). Our system fulfills DP2 requirements in both mechanical and electrical mode and is especially suited for any kind of offshore support vessels where this is required.

Annual fuel savings of 35 percent is a significant number. How does this technology realize that figure?

The major difference comes from DP and standby operation where the electric mode of this system will run in a variable speed combinatory mode. This means the azimuth propellers will constantly run at the most efficient hydrodynamic condition, which minimizes power consumption. The difference for a DP vessel is really remarkable. For vessels with DP or standby operation, this system will save a considerable amount of fuel.

Do competitors offer anything like this?

There are competing systems with other functions. But the Cat system is unique in the number of functions integrated into one platform, and the cost and technical benefits drawn from that.

Is this a limited offering now or is it being fully rolled out around the world?

This is currently being rolled out via our global dealer network.

So Cat believes this technology will be a good fit for both retrofits and installation at a new build stage?

Yes. In fact, most of our Cat MTA thrusters can be retrofitted from a straight mechanical version to this mechanical electrical version if there is enough space available in the vessel for the motor and drive. This retrofit will immediately give the vessel features such as running two propellers off one main engine and the possibility to run in an economical diesel/electric mode as long as the generator sets on board are big enough.

Is this offering uniquely customized to each vessel or fleet, or is this an off-the-shelf solution?

We will tailor our offering to suit the needs of our customers. However, the backbone technology is a modularized concept, which means we can rely on one common platform for different kinds of configurations.

If a customer were interested in this product, what would be the process to choose this technology?

The first step is always to get in touch with their local Cat dealer so we can start a discussion. We will then look into the application in detail to see if this is a good solution for that particular project. While this concept offers some advantages for applications with a high degree of varying operating conditions, there are other applications where it would be better with a straight mechanical setup. This initial discussion is important so we can give an accurate recommendation to best meet a customer’s needs.

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