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Effective propulsion system for both shipyards and boat owners

Low fuel consumption, high uptime, efficient, good performance and on top of that, easy to operate. These are just a few of all the demands a propulsion system must live up to according to today’s boat owners’ standards. For a shipyard, the system must be cost-efficient, need little engineering resources, be easy and fast as well as be delivered in a logistically smart way. In this blog article, I will describe Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System (IPS) and how the system lives up to the tough demands in the marine industry.

Inboard Performance System designed for marine professionals

The first prototype of Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System (IPS) was first tested in April, 1999. At that time, all the larger boats had inboard engines with traditional propeller shafts and rudder setup. As a propulsion supplier, it was important to develop a new, superior product on the traditionell inboard market. The IPS was designed to not be associated with the weaknesses of the outboard and sterndrive products, as well as have all the advantages of other inboard engines for larger vessels, often called yachts or smaller commercial vessels. The IPS is mainly designed for the industry of marine professionals such as ambulance boats, fishing boats, pilot boats as well as service boats operating in, for example, the wind farming industry.

Individually steerable drives with forward facing propellers for maximum efficiency

What is unique with the IPS system is that the propeller shaft always operates in parallel with the boat hull. Another distinguishing aspect of the IPS system is how the propellers drive the boat forward. On most other propulsion systems, the propellers point backward and push the boat forward. However, the IPS system’s propellers point forward, which means the boat is pulled forward instead. The forward facing IPS propellers that work in undisturbed water are balanced and optimised for the IPS application and Volvo Penta’s inhouse developed engine for best performance and efficiency.

The IPS also allows you to maneuver the boat sideways. This is possible because the drives are individually steerable and completely independent of each other. The IPS system is managed by Volvo Penta’s unique EVC system, a so called fly-by-wire system, which means there are no mechanical components in connection with the steering wheel, throttle lever and gear shift lever. There are only electronics such as computers, sensors, actuators and cables.    

IPS propulsion unit

Sleek propellers decrease the boat’s weight and lead to less fuel consumption

Another advantage with the propellers connected to the IPS system is that they are paired in two and are quite small in diameter. Also, the hub where the propeller blades are attached is very sleek, resulting in minimum drag that enhances efficiency.

Larger single, traditional inboard propellers, on the other hand, require a larger hub and shaft diameter. This increases the size and weight as well as increases the drag of the shaft and rudder struts, which in turn increases the fuel consumption and decreases propulsive efficiency. The increased weight will negatively affect the speed of the boat. Traditionally, if you want to increase the boat’s speed, more horsepowers are installed. That makes a boat even heavier and increase your fuel consumption even more, which also means that the boat will need more fuel onboard for the same cruising range. Consequently, a heavier gearbox matched for higher horsepower is needed and also heavier exhaust system and cooling system will be needed.

The IPS, on the other hand, works in the opposite way. Since the components in the water are small and sleek, the boat weighs less and require a smaller and lighter fuel tank to achieve the same range. In addition, a boat operating with an IPS will still reach higher top speed with equal installed horsepower.      

Delivery of a complete system reduces installation time for shipyards

The IPS simplifies the everyday life of shipyards and boat builders. The IPS takes up smaller space in the boat, which means it does not require a large engine room that takes a lot of time and resources to engineer and build. Instead, the boat builder has more flexibility and space when planning and designing the interior, which increase the value of the boat.

There are a lot of components that are included in a propulsion system and often, all the components need to be ordered separately from different suppliers. This could mean that the boat builder has to contact specific suppliers to order an engine, a propeller, a rudder, a shaft, a cooling water intake, cooling water valves, hoses, an exhaust system, a lubrication system, a hydraulic cylinder, a steering wheel and so on. This is a logistical challenge that can be avoided by using the IPS since it is a complete system that includes all parts you need from one single engine supplier.

Since the IPS is delivered as a complete system it decreases the installation time for the shipyards as well as facilitates service and maintenance. Volvo Penta assists in the installation and engineering process, which means that no additional engineers are needed to install the system in the engine room. In addition, the IPS system can be installed much later in the process compared to other traditional shaft propulsion systems. This means that the shipyard is able to sell and get paid for the boat before the engine must be paid for, which is a financial advantage for the shipyard.            

Easy and safe maneuvering with dynamic positioning system

Except gaining more space in the boat, the IPS enables the boat owner to decrease the fuel consumption with up to 40 % without having to compromise on the speed. It has a low noise level, which offers a higher comfort for the passengers onboard as well as for the people in the surrounding environment. Also, the system allows for high uptime. The IPS can be controlled with a joystick, which offers an easy, safe and intuitive maneuverability. The skipper can set a fixed position and heading in the water and the IPS, with dynamic positioning, maintains the boat’s position and heading without having to use an anchor. Also, since the boat can be maneuvered sideways it makes it easier, safer and less stressful to, for example, enter narrow harbours.    

Volvo Penta’s IPS engines

Volvo Penta’s IPS – an innovative power solution for the marine industry

The sea life does have its challenges. Weather conditions, tough competition and the increasing need for power solutions that reduce the environmental footprint but at the same time retain high uptime and keep the fuel costs down. In order to make the lives of marine professionals easier, it is our job, as a supplier of innovative power solutions, to offer both the boat builder and the boat owner efficient solutions that allow them to focus on their core business. Volvo Penta’s IPS is designed and manufactured with just that objective in mind. Put us to the test, and we will prove it to you!

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog article about IPS and how the solution can make life easier for both boat builders and boat owners. Feel free to contact me with questions, visit our website and social media channels for more information and pop by our Professional Power blog for more interesting blog articles.     

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