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Research and development, product launches

Wärtsilä continued to invest in product and solution innovation during 2017. The R&D related expenditure totalled EUR 141 million (131), which represents 2.9% of net sales (2.7). The key focus areas included digitalisation, efficiency improvement, fuel flexibility, and the reduction of environmental impact.

In March, Wärtsilä launched SmartPredict, a system designed to provide safer and more efficient operations for all vessel types with the help of advanced motion prediction.

In May, Wärtsilä introduced the Wärtsilä HY, a fully integrated hybrid power module combining engines, an energy storage system, and power electronics optimised to work together through a newly developed energy management system. Wärtsilä also announced its decision to invest in expanding its capability to service turbochargers at more than 20 service workshops globally. With this investment, Wärtsilä is able to offer customers global turbocharger services coupled with engine know-how in flexible co-operation with other Wärtsilä service centres. Eniram, a Wärtsilä company, launched an update to the SkyLight performance monitoring system, adding nautical maps, weather layers, and route importation to make predictive analysis and proactive planning more available.

In August, Wärtsilä successfully tested its automatic wireless induction charging system on a hybrid powered coastal ferry, owned by Norled, one of Norway’s largest ferry operators. Wärtsilä also took a further step in  developing its Smart Marine capabilities by successfully testing the remote control of ship operations in collaboration with the U.S. based operator Gulfmark Offshore. The testing involved driving a vessel through a sequence of manoeuvres using a combination of dynamic positioning and manual joystick control via standard bandwidth onboard satellite communication.

Product launches in November included EnergoFlow; a solution for reducing the power losses that occur in a ship’s propeller slipstream by providing an optimised inflow, thereby bringing cost savings in the form of fuel efficiency. A gas-fuelled version of the successful Wärtsilä 31 engine was also launched. The defining feature of the Wärtsilä 31SG is its ability to achieve simple-cycle efficiency levels in excess of 50%, which enables reduced emissions and offers the potential for considerable cost savings to power producers. Another benefit is the provision of increased flexibility, which enables a rapid response to continuously changing load patterns, especially in systems with a notable share of solar and wind energy.

In December, Wärtsilä introduced its Voyage Emissions Reduction system, which reduces environmental impact and increases oil tanker revenues by effectively eliminating the problem of volatile organic compound emissions during voyages, as well as Linesafe, a new simplified bearing design that enhances flexibility and lowers lifecycle costs for customers.

Also in December, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Wärtsilä signed a EUR 125 million loan agreement to support the research and development of more environmentally friendly and efficient ship engines and power plants. This fifth loan to support Wärtsilä’s Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) will further solidify the successful co-operation with the EIB, which has resulted in tangible improvements in European engine technology since the first loan was signed in 2003.

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