• The Switch is targeting growth of 200 percent within the marine segment in the next five years, building on the momentum of a flurry of recent orders, its acquisition of Wartsila Drives and the financial muscle of its parent company, the EUR 3.3 billion turnover Yaskawa Electric Corporation.
The Finnish headquartered business, a specialist in the development and supply of advanced drive train solutions, believes its permanent magnet (PM) and frequency converter technology can have the same transformational effect on marine as it has had in wind. In wind, The Switch is a preferred industry supplier, providing permanent magnet generators and full-power converters to wind turbines worldwide. In total, the firm boasts an installed capacity in excess of 13 GW. The largest low voltage (690 V) PM generators installed have a capacity of 8.6 MW.
“We entered the marine market four years ago,” said Business Development Manager Mika Koli. “We saw a huge potential to transfer not just our unique competency, but also the benefits that our technology can deliver to a sector facing challenges on a number of fronts. Namely, with regard to operational costs, falling profit margins and increasing environmental regulations and concern.”
“Our products address all these issues. With this in mind, we believe we can make a real difference in marine – championing both enhanced efficiency, the environment and our customers’ businesses. We see this as the beginning of a new energy era.”
The Switch manufactures PM machines that, in conjunction with frequency converters, convert mechanical energy into electric power that can then be utilized for onboard systems and equipment. With modular, flexible and lightweight designs, the solutions drive a new wave of efficiency.
Its PM shaft generators can be used to create cost-effective electricity and save fuel – with large merchant vessels potentially consuming 50 percent less energy during slow steaming. Meanwhile, vessels utilizing electric propulsion can optimize fuel consumption and access predictable and flexible power with unmatched power density.
In addition, The Switch’s frequency converters deliver reliable and accurate speed control. This makes them ideal for vessels operating in varying environments and speed ranges – such as ferries, cruise ships, ice breakers and tugs – and perfectly suited to the demands of dynamic positioning systems.
“PM technology and frequency converters offer substantially lower operational costs for owners, while also ensuring that vessels can be future-proofed,” Koli noted. “They provide accessible, affordable and easily integrated energy for the demands of all future systems, while, crucially, lowering fuel consumption and emissions. This means owners can operate greener ships and comply with tightening environmental regulations.”
Despite only entering the segment in 2013, The Switch has received more than 20 orders for its permanent magnet shaft generator technology, with a growing number of enquiries. Its latest agreements, to be delivered by solutions provider WE Tech, cover PM shaft generators for two Toll Shipping 12,000 dwt RORO vessels and a series of four Stena RoRo ROPAX ferries. All vessels are being built in China, with Toll’s constructed at Jinling Shipyard and Stena’s at AVIC Weihai Shipyard Co. Deliveries span from late 2017 through to January 2018.
“After an initial phase where we’ve been establishing our name and technology in the sector, the business is really moving on to the next level,” Koli stated. “The support and global network of our parent company provide an excellent platform to build on, while its financial strength paved way for the acquisition of Wartsila Drives in November 2016.”
He continued, “That move was crucial. It gives us competency in specialized megawatt-class power drives, alongside a test center and manufacturing facilities in Stord, Norway. It means we are now a specialized provider of drive trains that are engineered specifically for the marine industry.
“That’s a great foundation for both growth and our wider mission of changing the marine sector for the better – enhancing energy efficiency, protecting the environment, and improving profits and commercial sustainability for our customers worldwide.”
“We firmly believe it’s time for marine to make the switch.”
Read Maritime Reporter & Engineering News
' interview with Mika Koli here