Scandinavian deal to future-proof marine drive technology

Scandinavian deal to future-proof marine drive technology

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The Switch, based in Helsinki, is a subsidiary of Japanese robotics company Yaskawa and the financial details were not disclosed. Wärtsilä will continue to develop and manufacture drive systems using the components from The Switch.

As part of the deal, The Switch will gain the marine drives part of Wärtsilä’s Electrical & Automation (E&A) business line’s test centre and the manufacturing facilities in Stord, Norway. The Switch will then become a supply chain partner of Wärtsilä for marine drives while also being able to open up the product offering to other customers.

This enables both companies to fully focus on developing their core competences and creating drive train solutions. Wärtsilä aims to focus on systems, while The Switch aims to be the best in providing drive train components to future proof vessels.

The power drive products are used as proven elements within Wärtsilä’s systems that have already passed various approval requirements and are used in applications ranging from propulsion to drilling. There are currently hundreds of ships sailing with Wärtsilä marine drives. This makes them attractive to other marine customers who are seeking to reduce risk while upgrading to more advanced drive train solutions and hybrid systems.

“The Wärtsilä drive products are specially made without compromise for marine applications,” said Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, President and CEO of The Switch. “These products are ready for integration with various other systems because of their superior communication features, including de facto industry standard interfaces and remote management possibilities. It is also possible to separate the logistics for cabinets and power modules by shipping them later to avoid damages during the long installation times at shipyards,”  

The Switch has an installed base of over 11 GW of megawatt-class permanent magnet machine and converter packages. The main focus areas are wind, marine and special industrial solutions and as part of The Switch, the power drives unit will be able to access wide markets with the backing of Yaskawa.  “At the moment, the oil and gas market is in a slump. Yet, we are taking a longer perspective in our views of this market. Now is good time to engineer future-proof solutions for marine and once the market picks up, we’ll be ready to implement them,” said Mäkinen.


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