Azipod® propulsion – for the next generation of cargo ships

Azipod® propulsion – for the next generation of cargo ships

Embarking on a new chapter in Azipod® propulsion history, in 2019 ABB entered a new market segment with an order to install Azipod® electric propulsion on two dry bulk carriers from Germany’s largest bulk carrier company, Oldendorff Carriers.

The efficient choice

According to Oldendorff, the choice of Azipod® electric propulsion system has reduced investment costs dramatically as the vessels are already equipped with high power generation required for self-unloading/loading cargo handling.

For the Chengxi Shipyard, the project marked their debut installation of the Azipod® system on any vessel. Mr. Jiafa Jiang, Vice General Manager of Chenxi Shipyard (Yangzhou) Co., Ltd commented: “This was Chengxi Shipyard’s first time installing Azipod® technology, and the process went remarkably smoothly.”

Compared to a conventional propulsion system, Jiang reported that ABB Azipod® propulsion greatly reduced construction complexity for the yard, with its simple design limiting the number of interfaces required during vessel construction.

“Collaborating with ABB has been a very positive experience,” added Joern Westfehling, Newbuilding Manager, Oldendorff Carriers. "Now we look forward to reaping the operational rewards of Azipod® propulsion, including enhanced vessel efficiency and increased maneuverability.”

The Azipod® propulsion advantages

Azipod® DZ propulsion unit
Azipod® DZ propulsion unit

Over the course of three decades, ABB has supplied Azipod® units for about 25 vessel types, including icegoing container vessels and tankers, with the propulsion system accumulating more than 20 million running hours in total.

The Azipod® propulsion system consists of an electric drive motor located in a submerged pod mounted outside the ship’s hull. The propeller is attached directly to the motor, enabling it to rotate 360 degrees, providing enhanced maneuverability and operating efficiency compared to shaftline propulsion systems. The design also frees up cargo space on board, presenting an opportunity to boost vessel profitability.

Both Azipod® propulsion and diesel-electric power management are highly responsive to load variations, making self-serving cargo ships more maneuverable in shallow waters, better able to hold station, and more power-efficient during frequent loading and unloading operations.

Looking to the future

The global bulk carrier fleet comprises over 11,000 vessels, and the shipping association BIMCO expects the segment to continue to grow, with over 400 newbuild bulk carriers scheduled for launch in the coming years. Shipping intelligence provider Clarksons Research Global also projects continued growth in the seaborne dry bulk trade.

Bulk carrier vessels can benefit from Azipod® propulsion in operations demanding reliable performance at maximum efficiency over extended periods. With the added advantage of enhanced maneuverability in shallow harbors with limited space, Azipod® propulsion is equipped to meet the future needs of the dry bulk trade.


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