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€30m plant doubles pod production capacity
Published:  08 April, 2009

ABB has built a dedicated production plant in Finland to produce its electrically-powered Azipod modules, which are attached to the outside of ships to provide propulsion and steering. It has invested €30m in the 10,000m2 facility, doubling its capacity to assemble and test the pods, which can each weigh up to 285 tonnes and deliver 20MW of propulsive power.

Since ABB launched the Azipod concept in 1988, it has delivered more than 150 of the pods, and has more than 200 on order. It claims now to have almost half of the global market for electrical propulsion systems.

The technology is said to offer improved efficiency, manoeuvrability and reliability, and lower levels of noise and vibration, compared to conventional propulsion systems. Also, the absence of propeller shafts gives more flexibility to ship designers and saves on-board space and weight. In addition, maintenance costs are lower because the pods can accessed for routine maintenance from inside a vessel. Dry-docking is needed only once every five years.

The Azipod systems typically cost 15–20% more than conventional propulsion systems, but cost less to operate because of their higher efficiency, their lower maintenance costs, and their ability to dock without tugboats. ABB says that the pods have a 99.7% availability record and can cut bunkering costs by up to 20%.

The new production site will employ 200 people developing, producing and maintaining electrical propulsion systems. The building uses 40 ABB drives for HVAC duties and includes a system that can deliver up to 30m3 of air per second to cool the Azipods during testing.

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