Distributed Control Systems

Making a world of difference in the marine industry

Power of integration: moving ships into a new era of efficiency and sustainability

As passengers wait dockside, a ferry glides silently into its berth. Missing are the black smoke from the stack and the familiar chugging of diesel engines that we have come to associate with ships in operation. This is no illusion – but an example ABB’s technologies working together, increasing the efficiency and sustainability in shipping.

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Seamless operations

Inside the ferry’s hull, batteries power electric motors, and control systems optimize every turn of the propeller. On the bridge, guidance systems help the captain bring the vessel smoothly and precisely to the dock. Via the cloud, data is exchanged in real time between the ship and an onshore operations center, where experts continually monitor and optimize the ship’s performance.

ABB brings together all the technology needed to realize the vision of cleaner, safer and more efficient marine mobility, while supporting the vessels on their journey to ensure seamless operation for the decades to come.
Making a world of difference

Shipping matters

Ships move more than 80 percent of global trade – everything from cell phones and sneakers, to iron ore and grain. Although marine transport is acknowledged as the most energy-efficient way to move cargo in terms of energy use per ton-kilometer transported, shipping still has work to do to achieve its goals of sustainability.



Maritime transportation is set to triple by 2050 – an increase that could result in a dramatic rise in emissions. The International Maritime Organization has called for a minimum 70 percent reduction in shipping’s carbon intensity by 2050, and a 40 percent cut by the end of this decade .

Cruise ship equiped with Azipod propulsion

Propelled by e-mobility

One way for the maritime industry to reach its sustainability goals is by leveraging the benefits of onboard system integration which optimizes energy use on board, with clean electricity as the energy source.

Electricity is the backbone of tomorrow’s ships – and the driving force of many vessels operating today. ABB’s power and control systems – Onboard DC GridTM and Power and Energy Management System (PEMSTM) – are orchestrating the energy use on board, moving ships forward in the most efficient way possible. Designed to connect batteries or fuel cells to electric motors with maximum efficiency, these solutions will also be key to integrating future energy sources as they become available.

ABB also delivers technology that allows ships to connect to clean shore power and charge batteries while at berth. Once in port, docked vessels equipped with ABB's shore connection solutions can plug into an onshore power supply and shut down their engines, eliminating carbon emissions as well as noise and vibrations.

Icebreaker navigrating through ice
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Sailing full circle

The power of integration – ensuring optimal operations of all onboard systems to achieve maximum efficiency – extends below the ship’s hull as well. With ABB’s Azipod® electric propulsion, motors are contained in pods under the hull and connected directly to the propeller. This enables the propulsion units to rotate 360 degrees, giving ships maximum maneuverability and helping reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent when compared to a traditional shaftline setup.

ABB’s instrumentation and analyzer solutions further enhance vessel efficiency. CoriolisMaster enables accurate fuel and lubricate monitoring, and ProcessMaster allows for better ballast water management, while CEMcaptain monitors emissions in real time.

From berth to berth, ABB’s navigation and guidance systems ABB Ability™ Pilot Vision and ABB Ability™ Pilot Control assure safe and energy efficient transit and docking.

All these systems can be applied to a wide range of ships – from passenger ferries to offshore wind turbine installation vessels – with the total package integrated by ABB. The integrated system supplied by a single vendor not only enables simple and flexible installation, but also ensures full lifecycle support for new and existing vessels.
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Powered by expertise

Technology alone, however, is not enough. It takes skilled people to design, plan and set up the systems to work in the most optimal way.

Consider the kilometers of cabling needed to connect systems or installing a large piece of new equipment on a ship built two decades ago. These are challenging tasks, only to be accomplished with expert knowledge and experienced teams.

Connecting the dots

Once in operation, vessels with ABB’s systems on board can leverage the benefits of connecting digitally to the vast ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operations infrastructure. Today, already over 1,500 ships have round-the-clock access to a worldwide network of ABB experts and benefit from remote equipment monitoring and diagnostics.

With this integrated approach, ABB is making a world of difference. Now, the most efficient means of moving goods and people can have far less impact on the environment as well, allowing passengers, crew and shoreside residents to enjoy the benefits of cleaner, quieter, and safer ships.

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How we make a world of difference