When designing and manufacturing a new marine engine, it is important to make sure the engine maintains high uptime, requires minimal service and minimizes the environmental footprint. To ensure the engine has these qualities, it must go through several tests before it can be released on the market. One of the most important tests is the field test, which is performed together with a marine operator. During the field test, the marine operator lowers their costs while at the same time gets to try the newest and most modern power solutions on the marine market.
Field test – the last step in the development of a new engine
Volvo Penta performs field tests together with marine operators as the last step in the development of new engines. The idea is to equip a marine operator with a field test engine that powers their boat for a period of two years. During these two years, Volvo Penta has a close dialogue with the marine operator about how the engine is doing and how all the different components are performing. The goal of the field test is to detect possible weak links on the engine before it is offered to the market. This is to prevent marine operators from encountering problems with their engines. The feedback from the field test enables us to update the engine and adjust potential flaws before the production starts.
Fuel consumption in relation to the load of the vessel
Parameters that are measured during a field test is for example how much fuel that is used in relation to how much load the vessel has. The result of the field test is summarized in a report. Volvo Penta adjusts and updates the engine if potential flaws are detected, and these adjustments are also added to the production process. The marine operator is not given any specific directions on how to operate the vessel since we want to take advantage of their specific way of loading and handling the engine. This can show flaws with the engine that we probably never would discover on our own since the tests performed in-house are conducted after very strict frameworks.
A marine operator that operates around 1500 to 2000 hours per year
A new engine first goes through numerous tests in our labs, and at sea, before it is ready to undergo a field test. Then, we must find a suitable marine operator that can perform the field test. The marine operator’s business and vessel must live up to certain requirements in order to be a suitable candidate.
The most important requirement is that the vessel operates around 1500 to 2000 hours per year, to be able to generate as much monitoring data as possible. Therefore, vessels such as fishing boats and ferries are often the ones performing the field tests. Also, the size of the vessel must match the size of the engine. When choosing a candidate, we also assess what we want to expose the engine to, such as quick acceleration or slow speed. Each new engine model goes through several different field tests with different vessels to test if the engine lives up to different demands in the marine industry.
After finding a suitable candidate, we, together with the marine operator, agree on all legal and economic aspects, including what needs to be done in order to install the engine in the vessel. It is a long process that requires extensive preparations. Therefore, the process often starts a year before the actual field test begins.
Lower costs and a close dialogue with the development department
Taking part in a field test is beneficial in many ways for a marine operator. Included in the field test are the engine, installation, spare parts and service. The only cost for the marine operator is fuel. Therefore, all marine operators are benefited economically by participating in a field test. However, since no field test is the same, all agreements differ depending on what is decided between the two parties.
During the test period, the marine operator gets extensive knowledge about the engine model and its components. Also, they have access to both Volvo Penta’s development department as well as a specific workshop that offers first class service. This is to ensure high uptime and efficiency and to make sure the field test affects the business as little as possible.
A new IMO Tier III solution to reach the environment goals
For example, we performed a field test that focused on Volvo Penta’s new IMO Tier III solution together with Clinton Marine Survey.
“For us, it is beneficial to participate in the field test for mainly two reasons”, explains Johan Lindskog, Master of Clinton Marine Survey’s vessel Northern Wind. “We have previously encountered problems with our engines because we run them at a low speed with low load over extended periods of time. To deal with these challenges, it is good for us to have a close cooperation with an engine supplier. Secondly, the field test is consistent with our environmental policy, which is to be as friendly towards the environment as possible. The field test has gone really well. Our cooperation with Volvo Penta, along with their service and support, has been great. And, most importantly, the engine and their IMO Tier III solution works very well.”
The new engines have also resulted in positive effects on their business. “Volvo Penta’s engines have led to better driveability, lower fuel consumption as well as less smoke and smell on the aft deck. Due to lower costs and the ability to work faster and more efficient, the new engines also benefit our customers. In addition, the new engines help us reach our environmental goals. The reason why we chose to participate in the field test instead of purchasing the engines straight away was that we got the chance to be involved in the development of new engines that minimize the environmental footprint. We enjoy trying the newest and most modern power solutions on the market. Since it also pays off for us economically, the decision to participate in the field test was easy.”
Volvo Penta performs field tests to meet the tough demands of the marine market
Volvo Penta has long experience in developing and manufacturing innovative power solutions for marine professionals. In order to meet the tough demands of the marine market and deliver a high-quality engine, we let all our engines go through a number of field tests. Allowing marine operators to participate in our field tests has lead to strong and valuable relationships with our customers. When we launch a new engine model, we are confident in our engines since they have been tested in professional applications and proved they are reliable, remain high uptime and minimize the environmental footprint.. Performing field tests is a large investment in our customers, their businesses and the environment. We can not think of a more important investment to make!
Have you participated in a field test? If yes, please let us know what you thought of the process in the comments below. On our website, you can find more information about Volvo Penta and our marine engines. Also, visit us on social media and on our blog where you can read more articles from the marine industry!