Delivering Operational Confidence Offshore with ZF Transmissions & Thrusters

When it comes to working in offshore environments, the reliability and performance of vessels is of the utmost importance. Offshore vessels – which can include high-speed support craft, crew Transfer Vessels (CTV), patrol craft, survey boats, Service Operational Vessels (SOVs), tugboats, and others – are exposed to harsh conditions on a regular basis, and any downtime can be costly and dangerous. Additionally, offshore vessels are often used in critical operations. They may transport personnel or equipment to offshore oil rigs or perform security functions to protect a high-risk offshore border. If a component fails during one of these operations, it can have a major impact on the safety of the people on board, as well as the success of the operation. For these reasons and more, it is essential that the machinery used in offshore vessels is reliable and high performing.

For offshore vessels, two of the most important pieces of machinery include the transmission, which transfers power from the engines to the propellers, and the thrusters, which propel and position vessels in often dynamic environments. It is imperative that these components be able to withstand the harsh domain and operate without fail when vessels operate offshore.

Ensuring Reliability & Performance

To ensure the reliability and performance of marine transmissions and thrusters, vessel owners should incorporate only high-quality components. Second, vessel owners and crew should properly maintain and repair vessels, as recommended. This includes regularly inspecting vessels for signs of wear and tear, and/or making necessary repairs.

For offshore operators seeking transmissions and thrusters for their offshore fleets, know that ZF Marine’s transmissions and thrusters have a long history of proven durability and high performance, even in challenging conditions and when used at high speeds with varying operational profiles.  This track record is long, in fact, ZF Marine’s transmissions were one of the first to meet the demands for DP technology in Fast-Support Vessels (FSVs), in the early 2000s – and the company has had a stronghold on that market ever since.

“It’s not uncommon for ZF’s offshore customers to put 30,000 to 40,000 hours on our transmissions and to undergo only normal rebuild cycles,” explained ZF’s George Lewis, head of product line commercial-fast craft, North/Central America and the Caribbean. “Our products are designed to handle harsh environments and perform highly with continued durability. We back this up with industry-leading service and support.”

That service and support includes access to a customer care team that can support clients across maintenance, repowers, rebuilds and new construction projects. This care continues with the availability of a toll-free hotline, +1 833-ZFWRENCH, which customers can call 24/7 for technical support. This knowledgeable service team has more than a century of combined marine experience. Additionally, ZF’s Service Readiness Program with selected and qualified service partners, spare parts and service expertise are 24/7 available worldwide.

“ZF offers standardized products. This means that a fleet using our products will receive the same quality and service for every single vessel,” said Lewis. “Our products are tried and true and help to increase operator confidence for offshore operations.”

Future-Proofing Offshore Vessels

For offshore vessel operators planning now about the future, ZF Marine is ahead of the game. Commercially available hybrid-capable transmission models are already available, including the ZF 3000, 5000, 8000, 9000, 11000, 24000 and 40000 series, with more to come.  Among other benefits, installing hybrid transmissions enables vessels to operate with reduced emissions.

The company also recently commercially launched its 4600 POD propulsion system. Designed for vessels with planing and semi-displacement hulls measuring up to 130 feet and compatible with all main OEM engines up to 1,700 hp at a maximum of 2,450 rpm, this new drive technology is suitable for a wide range of commercial applications, including pilot boats, supply vessels, small ferries, and patrol and rescue boats. Compared to other PODs on the market, the 4600 POD system is up to twice as powerful while consuming up to 15 percent less fuel than a traditional shaftline propulsion system. On larger vessels, the 4600 POD system also allows designers to reduce the number of POD units typically required to reach the desired speed. This reduces the complexity of onboard systems and reduces the vessel’s drag, further improving propulsion efficiency.

For those requiring Conditioning Monitoring technology, rest assured that ZF offers this for transmissions and thrusters, too. In addition to providing regular reports, ZF’s systems provide real-time data about the health of components, predictive maintenance, and alerts when attention is required.

Finally, as more and more autonomous vessels enter service each year, it’s critical that all reduced-crew or unmanned offshore missions execute with a higher level of mechanical reliability. ZF provides this assurance and recently supplied four well-mounted, electric-driven ZF ATL 4014 WM-FP azimuth thrusters for two unmanned offshore surface vehicles (USV) for use in Reach Subsea’s Reach Remote project.

“The compact and efficient design of our thrusters will help to reduce life cycle costs for Reach Subsea’s USVs, while providing unmatched and reliable maneuverability,” said Lewis. “We’re approaching the design of the latest systems with the goals of helping operators reduce both emissions and operational costs.”

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