Finnish ship sets sail on a new digital course

New Wasaline passenger and vehicle ferry is one of Europe’s most environmentally friendly ships and one of the smartest, thanks to the addition of digital technology from ABB.

The Aurora Botnia ferry is awash with advanced digital cloud-based systems and will navigate a new route for Wasaline and the future of shipbuilding.

Rauma Marine Construction (RMC) has built the passenger and vehicle ferry, a Wasaline shipping company vessel that operates between Vaasa, Finland, and Umeå, Sweden. A modern ship with two cargo decks, it accommodates around 800 passengers with a cargo capacity of 1,500 lane meters for trucks and cars.

When it set sail in August 2021, Aurora Botnia became the most environmentally conscious ship in its class. Its four main engines run on a combination of biogas and liquified natural gas. A catalyst reduces nitrogen oxide to levels exceeding International Maritime Organization Tier III standards, and waste heat and cooling are recovered to maximize energy efficiency. When maneuvering in port areas, the ship will operate on electricity, and its batteries will provide extra power during travel if needed. The vessel is also designed with built-in flexibility to swap or add power sources as required.

“For a long time, the electric systems of ships have been largely unchanged,” said Sales Manager Juha Liipo from the vessel’s panel builder, Promeco. “For the new ferry, our customer, WE Tech Solutions, collaborated with ABB to create a new smart main switchboard system for the ship. This was where the customer’s need and the supplier’s interest and innovation coincided. We were in the right place at the right time.”

A ship with a smart heart

The ‘smart heart’ of the Aurora Botnia centers on ABB’s Emax 2 air circuit breakers and compact Tmax XT molded case breakers. The new line of Tmax XT breakers allows engineers to access, monitor and control information remotely, anywhere, at any time, thereby improving efficiency and saving energy.

“ABB has been at the forefront of introducing smart solutions in the marine sector,” said ABB Electrification Area Sales Manager Pekka Rautio. "These smart Tmax XT devices communicate seamlessly with each other via Ethernet connections to improve fault detection and performance. The high-quality breakers also take up less space in the ship’s engine room and the addition of ABB’s Lite Panels improve the visibility of network conditions locally.”

With this new smart technology, Wasaline engineers can monitor the ship’s power grid and predict possible fault situations such as overloads. If problems arise, data can be analyzed and used in a way that will help to avoid potential problems.

Ready for a cloud connection

As part of ABB’s commitment to digital transformation, Emax 2 and Tmax XT breakers also equip the Aurora Botnia to ride the wave of cloud-connected energy management. The automation system can be connected to the ABB AbilityTM Energy & Asset Manager (cloud or local platform), making it possible to monitor the system 24 hours a day by cellphone or any mobile device.  If required, it can predict and plan the maintenance needs for circuit breakers by using a special algorithm.

Electronic Ekip Touch trip units enable energy metering, motor protection and generator protection in addition to a Modbus communication module. Instead of using analog meters to monitor performance, measurements are made on two ABB Ekip multimeter displays, and there is no need for current transformers. The addition of ABB’s new Lite Panel (the switchboard HMI) allows the team to monitor and control up to 28 electrical assets at the same time.

Collaborating with its customer, WE Tech Solutions, and employing the latest ABB technology, Promeco has developed a modernized approach to the electrification of ships. Digital systems inherently are environmentally friendly because they can monitor power supplies and energy consumption precisely to optimize usage.

The Aurora Botnia has room for 800 passengers, 1500 lane meters of cargo space for trucks, and will serve as a blueprint for smart ships of the future.


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