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What is important when selecting propulsion technology

What is important when selecting propulsion technology

In order to choose the right propulsion system, it is important to consider the different variables or characteristics that are significant to your vessel´s specific mission or operational profile. In light of this, we have outlined 8 performance parameters that you should consider, regardless of vessel type.

The performance parameters are the same for every vessel type, however their importance will vary depending on operational profile.


1. Economy: CAPEX & OPEX

There are two main economic categories: Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and Operating Expenditure (OPEX).

CAPEX refers to the funds used to acquire, upgrade and maintain your vessel, whilst OPEX are shorter-term expenses required to meet the ongoing operational costs.

The longest period of any vessel’s life is after it's been taken into operation, as such the OPEX will over time exceed the CAPEX several times. Consequently, a high CAPEX can be justified if it can substantially decrease the OPEX.

There are four major components of OPEX:

  • Fuel
  • Salary
  • Maintenance
  • Finance & Insurance

Investing in the right propulsion system can primarily help you lower fuel cost and maintenance cost. All reduced costs here will directly influence the bottom-line.


2. Environment

Environment and economy are very strongly linked together, as one of the biggest components of the OPEX is fuel costs. In fact, it can cover as much as 50% of the total OPEX. Consequently, there is a huge potential for costs savings within this area alone – and the bigger the fleet, the more you can save.

Furthermore, decreasing the fuel consumption also reduces the environmental footprint with the same percentage. Additionally, stricter regulations are being introduced and it is crucial to ensure that you do not put a vessel in operation, without it meeting the current environmental requirements.

3. Versatility/flexibility

Versatility is another important factor that should be considered when reviewing your vessel. The more functions your vessels have, the better the initial investment. Some vessels are designed only for one purpose.

However, if you can manage to make the vessel more versatile it can have major benefits. For example, a vessel that is energy efficient in different, wider operation profiles can allow you to get a range of different jobs, consequently making your vessels more competitive.

4. Reliability

Reliability is about being fit for purpose and have the correct equipment to do the job. More specifically, it refers to having equipment that has been properly maintained and ensuring that it is working optimal without breaking down. The keyword here is predictability - the equipment should be able to work efficiently in all the different conditions.

Read more: How to reduce the operational cost of your high-speed vessel


5. Safety – HSE

Safety is very important for clients, and they are measured on it. Their goal is to get a good night’s sleep and not worry that there might be an accident. The safety of a vessel can be separated into three main categories:

  • Safety of equipment: The equipment is reliable and does not break down causing accidents.

  • Safety of the complete vessel: What is the crash-stop length? How quickly can you stop the vessel when you are driving full speed?

  • Redundancy: If you have two propellers and one breaks down, can you still maneuver and bring your passengers safely home? Do you have any backup systems?

6. Adaptability

Due to the recent developments of new energy sources and new technologies, it is recommended to invest in equipment that can be adapted throughout the next 20 years. If you have a vessel that runs on diesel fuel, it is wise to invest in systems that can be adapted and operate on new energy sources in the future. Thus, ensure durability.

7. Comfort

The propulsion system is responsible for two elements that causes a disrupt of a passengers’ comfort: Noise and vibration. Noise and vibration are highly linked together. Ensuring a low level of both these categories is possible through optimizing the propulsion systems.

Noise and vibration are particularly important for passenger vessels, such as fast ferries, tourism/sightseeing vessels and yachts.

8. Manoeuvrability

Manoeuvrability refers to how well you can skillfully move or guide your vessel. For instance, when you are berthing your vessel, how easy is it to dock, to turn, slow down, accelerate and stop? The quality of being easy to move or steer while in motion, is crucial for the overall performance of the vessel.


The propulsion system is doubtlessly an important part of any vessel, as it is highly linked to overall performance. Choosing the wrong propulsion system can lead to lower speed, damage, noise and poor operating- and fuel economy.

Consequently, the propulsion system of any vessel is considered an important investment; it can increase the ability to compete in the marked, improve effectiveness and reduce operational costs. Thus, by reducing consumption, the impact on the environment is also reduced.

In order to choose the right propulsion system, it is important to consider the different variables or characteristics that are important to your vessel´s specific mission and operational profile.

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