Winch control with variable frequency drive

ABB’s winch control program enables the ABB variable frequency drive (VFD) range to be used in different winching control configurations on board ships, offshore platforms and in harbors.

Deck winches are commonly used on board today’s ships. Traditionally the marine winch market has been dominated by hydraulic systems and three-speed direct-on-line electrical systems. Both systems have their drawbacks. The hydraulic system requires a significant amount of space, while the oil used can constitute an environmental hazard. The three-speed electrical system has limited speed control, resulting in mechanical wear and coarse winch operation.

The ABB variable frequency drive (VFD) range is rated from 0.55 kW to 5,600 kW.

ABB variable frequency drives are certified for marine applications, enabling smooth continuous speed and torque control of anchor winches, mooring winches, Ro-Ro quarter ramp winches and towing winches.


  • The ideal solution for retrofits – the existing winch motor, motor cable and operator control can be reused.
  • Space saving on the deck – simplified winch arrangement.
  • Lower noise level.
  • Reduced maintenance costs - Soft starting reduces startup current peaks. Smooth continuous speed and torque control reduce stress on the whole mooring system.
  • DTC (Direct Torque Control) eliminates the need for a pulse encoder, increasing the reliability of the winch system.
  • Safe and accurate anchor and mooring winch control throughout the whole speed range.
  • Cost reduction compared to closed loop systems.
  • Environmentally friendly solution – Oil-free operation with fully electronic equipment.
  • Reduction of mechanical wear.
  • External programmable logic controller (PLC) not needed because the winch control program includes winch operation and protection functions.
  • Multi I/O functionality allowing three different control stands to be connected directly to the drive.
  • Anchor-in or anchor-slowdown protection reduces the speed as the anchor approaches its end position. Slip protection operates between the winch drum and winch motor.
  • The peak torque protection in hand-mooring function detects severe tightening of the rope enabling immediate speed adjustment to protect the rope and the winch system from overload.
  • Mechanical brake control with torque memory.
  • Easy start-up and maintenance of drive system.
  • Adjustable auto-mooring provides accurate rope tension control and eliminates the need for load cells on the ropes.




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