Best Small Diesel Engine Supplier – Volvo Penta
Sweden-based global engine supplier Volvo Penta is renowned for its quality, refinement, constant development and related propulsion system innovation.
Regular readers of these pages will be well aware of the breadth and depth of the Volvo Penta range. They will be equally well aware of the many and different sizes and types of vessels equipped with Volvo Penta engines and propulsion systems.
In recent months there have been tourist ferries for French alpine lakes and the French West Indies; a hydrographic research and training vessel; a fire, oil spill and pollution response boat for Romania; a RIB fire and rescue boat; a RIB tender for a British oceanographic research ship; and, a series of Turkish coastal patrol boats. They are just the boats reviewed here recently. There have been many, many more of all shapes sizes and types and designed and built world-wide.
Furthermore, while Volvo Penta engines can be fitted to conventional shaft drive, waterjet, and even surface-piercing propulsion systems, the company is equally renowned for its complementary stern-drive and IPS systems. The latter, especially, are increasingly being fitted to all manner of workboats.
“Fuel efficiency is a key focus across our product range and an aspect we believe is important to our customers as well,” Volvo Penta told Baird Maritime. “Another added benefit we believe is highly appreciated is our unique marine torque, which allows for great acceleration and manoeuvrability. Another feature is a high power-to-weight ratio.
“We also offer a fully integrated system. Thanks to our electronic vessel control (EVC) system and controls, Volvo Penta offers a complete package with a plug and play approach.”
The full integration feature means Volvo Penta diesel engines do not require integration with third-party systems since everything that any operator would need can be sourced from only one manufacturer, giving an assurance of reliability. Also, because the company boasts a global service network with over 3,500 dedicated dealers worldwide, securing parts and service is made easier and more efficient.
Volvo Penta added that its diesel engines have become more attractive to both potential and existing customers as a result of the company’s long-standing commitment to sustainability.
“Sustainability is a key area where we only see needs accelerating. This includes new legislative requirements for cleaner engines, as well as, a transition towards decarbonisation and zero emissions for the future. As such, we have accelerated our sustainability aims with the goal of becoming a net-zero emissions company, along with all the other companies under the Volvo Group, by 2050 at the latest.”
Volvo Penta is thus accelerating its own efforts to reach zero emissions through fossil-free, renewable fuels – including hydrogen fuel cells – as well as electric and hybrid technology. The company has already begun to reduce NOx emissions and increase fuel efficiency through its current product range, which includes engines featuring IMO Tier III-compliant technology and SCR technology optimised for marine and designed to be compact, easy to install, and efficient.
“Ever since Volvo Group committed itself to the Science-Based Targets Initiative,” Volvo Penta said, “we are following suit and working towards meeting targets and complying with roadmaps, which will be established within the year.”
“We have to perform and transform – in parallel,” added Volvo Penta president Heléne Mellquist. “We will perform by improving our current portfolio based on customer and market needs, but at the same time, we are looking ahead, predicting future needs, and applying innovative technologies to evolve and transform accordingly.”
Balancing the development of current technology and future solutions is, “a demanding but inspiring challenge,” as Mellquist described.
As part of its “transformation” initiative, Volvo Penta has also been embracing automation and digitalisation to more effectively help end users focus on the task at hand while ensuring their safety. One noteworthy result of this is the company’s proprietary dynamic positioning system (DPS), which is already in use on a number of vessels around the world.
“It is about designing an experience with ease, precision, and safety in mind,” explained Mellquist. “The Volvo Group is also expanding its automation focus, where we believe we can benefit and learn from the commercial transport sector and apply best practices for use at sea.”
Volvo Penta further believes that increased digitalisation and connectivity will open possibilities for fleet management. Smart and connected vessels deliver benefits like safety, as well as increased efficiency and productivity.
“Because of this,” Volvo Penta told Baird Maritime, “we have revealed our Easy Connect App for marine commercial professionals. The data from this app helps operators, fleet managers, and service providers monitor fuel savings and routes as well as improve overall operation.”
The company said the app will be continuously updated, allowing it to contribute to ease of use while also creating a safe working environment.
Even with all these recently introduced innovations promising more efficient vessel operations, Volvo Penta was not spared when Covid-19 came into the picture.
“We have seen some of our projects actually get cancelled during the pandemic,” the company said. “Fortunately, though, financial injections into local economies by governments and other authorities are having a positive impact across the industry. We also continue to see increased interest in our products, particularly in projects where we have ongoing outreach, like electromobility solutions for the future and the pilot electric IPS technology we are implementing together with Danfoss Editron for hybrid crew transfer vessels.”
Volvo Penta expects that the future market for diesel engines will remain strong even as a growing number of operators make the switch to engines that run on more environment-friendly alternative fuels.
“For vessels that need to travel longer distances, it is still a challenge to be fully electric today. We do not believe that there is one silver bullet solution to that problem. We will likely need many different ways to reduce CO2 and other emissions, which we are investigating, but we believe there will still be a need for traditional combustion engines in the coming years.”
Specifically, with regard to emissions reductions, Volvo Penta is exploring opportunities in the use of renewable and alternative fuels and battery applications. In any case, the company believes electrification of the maritime industry is inevitable, with concepts such as improved batteries and engines powered solely by renewable energy predicted to be just a few years away from more widespread implementation.
Like many manufacturers, Volvo Penta has recognised the growing global trend of cargo being shipped via inland waterways, which will then lead to increased demand for workboats powered by high-torque, efficient engines that also guarantee reduced environmental impact.
“We believe customers in this segment will continue to seek such engines,” the company told Baird Maritime. “They are looking for advancements in technology to meet existing legislation like IMO Tier III, EPA, China 1, etc. We can thus say that we are in a unique position, with our power solutions designed to meet the latest legislations.
“Our product portfolio is also quite comprehensive and our network of approximately 3,500 authorised marine dealers worldwide is constantly evolving to meet our customers’ demands. Our dealers are not only trained in the latest Volvo Penta technology and repair processes, but also required to comply with our dealer operating standards, which were conceived to ensure consistently high-quality service and support.”
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