Mature but always growing
The market for commercial marine engines is mature and stable, although changes in fishing regulations and transport legislation can rapidly change the situation for certain segments. Volvo Penta has occupied a strong position in Europe for many years and is currently preparing the ground for strong growth, primarily in Asia and North America.
“We have held a very strong position in a number of markets for a long time and we are well known for our reliable products and efficient service. Our extended program means that we can now be considered as a potential supplier by a significantly greater number of customers. As a result of the recovery in Asia, we envisage greater demand from that region, while we also believe firmly that we can expand in North America,” says Bertil Börjesson.
Planing, displacement and auxiliary engines
The market can be roughly divided into three segments:
Planing boats for the police, armed forces, rescue organizations, shipping pilots and certain fishing operations. The engines in this category are high-performance and developed for maximum output during limited periods.
Displacement vessels and smaller boats used for fishing, passenger traffic, ferries, tugboats and canal boats. Since these vessels are in operation 24 hours a day, operating reliability and low operating costs are decisive factors for customers.
Auxiliary engines that are used, for example, in the generating systems, winches and cranes onboard a vessel. These applications are similar in many instances to the industrial applications for which Volvo Penta supplies engines on land. Here also, high operating reliability and low costs are crucial factors.
Demands for know-how and specialist skills are increasing. In many respects, the role of the supplier is to be an expert and consultant within the company’s field of specialization and to assist with specific competence in boat or ship projects.
“Most of our business is unique, since production of new boats and vessels is normally limited to just a few units. To guarantee quality, we want to maintain control through the entire process, right up to the end customer. We achieve this by building up our own competence in each market. In addition, our customers are from widely varying segments ranging from public authorities and shipyards to the individual fisherman who may need a new engine for his boat,” notes Bertil Börjesson.
Diesel engines ranging from 4 to 65 liter
Volvo Penta’s product program is based on marine diesel engines in the 4 to 65 liter range. These are supplemented by various types of power systems, developed within the company or in cooperation with others, plus control and supervising systems, and so forth. During recent years, Volvo Penta has launched a large number of new products, which have broadened the program to include higher output models and a greater selection of engines for customers.
“Despite all today’s electronics, for most people the engine is still regarded as the heart of any vessel, the single most important piece of equipment onboard. Our development work means that we can now offer a competitive range in all segments. The Volvo Group has tremendous resources to invest in the product development of diesel engines. These resources and our competence base constitute a strength factor and a platform for further development of Volvo Penta’s engine operations for commercial marine applications,” says Gerard Törneman, product planning manager of the Commercial Marine business unit.
The diverse needs of the customers within Commercial Marine are creating opportunities for internal synergies within Volvo Penta’s other operating units.
“We work for the end-customers, boatbuilders, designers and shipping companies. We have a lot in common with the Volvo Penta Industrial Engines business unit and its work on generating equipment, and with the company’s Leisure Boat unit and its know-how within the high power-output area. We can exploit these skills to further develop and optimize our own range of products,” says Gerard Törneman.
Emissions and work environment
In many respects, product development is driven by increasingly stringent exhaust-emission requirements. Since Volvo Penta’s products are sold throughout the world, the company engages in a great deal of work to satisfy the legal requirements of different countries.
“Emissions, performance and low fuel consumption are the main factors that drive our development work and it is a challenge to meet this combination of demands. Electronics is becoming an increasingly important factor onboard, and in regard to the engines. Operating costs are extremely important for our customers, since the engines are in operation 24 hours a day in many instances. Operating costs range from fuel and oil to spare parts and service intervals, among other items. It is therefore important to take into account the engine’s entire life cycle in our product development work,” underlines Gerard Törneman.
Another key issue is the onboard work environment. Noise and vibration are important aspects, bearing in mind that the crew members often live in close proximity to the engine.
Active in 130 countries
Volvo Penta’s operations within the Commercial Marine area are global in scope. Commercial vessels operate all over the world and designers, shipyards and shipping companies are often located in widely separated countries. To assure the quality of its products and solutions, Volvo Penta participates with know-how, support and documentation at all stages of the process chain. In practice, this is achieved through the involvement of the company’s own applications engineers and technicians and a worldwide service organization.
For additional information, please contact:
Ann-Charlotte Emegård, AB Volvo Penta
Tel: +46 31-668 418