ABB's Azipod® technology is a forerunner in maritime industry

The ABB Azipod® propulsion system developed in Finland is a pioneer in reducing the energy consumption of and emissions from shipping. New ideas for developing it further are constantly being generated in Aalto Design Factory's product development facilities.

The Azipod® propulsion system, based on an electric drive motor, improves the hydrodynamic efficiency of ships and reduces fuel consumption.Electric propulsion is also very flexible when it comes to using new forms of energy with the help of batteries and fuel cells.

Currently, Azipod® technology is being used worldwide in more than 20 different types of ships, ranging from cruise liners to icebreakers and cargo ships. The system is already installed on 300 ships. Continuous efforts are being made to improve the efficiency and performance of Azipod® products, with Aalto Design Factory's product development facilities playing an active role in the development work.

‘The Design Factory gives us an excellent opportunity to detach ourselves from our everyday work and come up with ideas for new product prototypes. For example, we have built small partial structures of plywood and tried out how much space maintenance measures require, do the necessary tools fit into the space, and how the installation and dismantling work can be performed safely,’ says Mirva Nevalainen, Aalto alumna and Head of Project Management at ABB Marine.

Over the last decade, new size classes have been developed for Azipod® products. New solutions have also been sought for bearing and electric motor technologies. Work is ongoing to improve product efficiency and performance. 

Students bring fresh thinking to development work

‘The development work requires a sufficiently broad-based team with expertise in various fields of technology, and an open and investigative mind. ABB has a lot of competence, but from time to time we need more detailed expertise within specific fields, which the university can provide', Nevalainen says.

Students contribute to product development, even if they still lack deeper technical competence. They have fresh thinking and the ability to look at matters outside the box.

‘ABB continues to invest in research and development. New technological solutions keep our products competitive and enable us to respond to the changing needs of both new and old customers today and in the future', Nevalainen explains.

Text: Marjukka Puolakka

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