Volvo Penta Diesels Make Impact on Tug

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Volvo Penta is enjoying continued success with sales of engines for vessels operating in canal and river traffic in the US. When the barge transportation company, Stevens Towing in South Carolina, recently installed its first four-stroke diesel engines in one of its tugboats, its choice of engine was Volvo Penta’s TAMD165C. The results to date are impressive – the company calculates that it gains the equivalent of one engine per year through lower fuel and maintenance costs! There is a large market for new engines for tugboats working on canals and rivers in the US. Volvo Penta, which gained its first foothold in this market only a few years ago, is reporting significant performance improvements for its customers. “We installed our first engines three years ago, and today this is an important market for us,” says Kent Lundgren, head of the Diesel Engines division at Volvo Penta of the Americas. “Satisfied customers are the best testimonial to our engine performance, and we are now noticing a demand that did not exist before.” Increased maintenance costs Stevens Towing Company has a fleet of six tugboats and about 25 barges that operate on waterways in the eastern US. The engines onboard have previously been 12-cylinder, two-stroke diesels, but increasing maintenance needs and relatively heavy fuel consumption convinced Stevens Towing to try out new state-of-the-art four-stroke diesel engines on one of the tugboats. Profitable switch The vessel chosen for the refit was the 56-foot tugboat Island Express. The existing installation comprised twin two-stroke engines, each developing 400 horsepower. Following the refit, the vessel has twin 510-horsepower Volvo Penta TAMD165C diesel engines. “So far, the engines have run for 1,500 hours of trouble free operation with no service requirements beyond normal maintenance,” says Arthur Bailey of Superior Diesel, who supplied the engines and takes care of servicing them. “We have installed flow meters on Island Express and a sister vessel still running on the old engines. Our preliminary figures show that we are making fuel savings of 15-20 percent, in addition to considerably higher availability and minimal maintenance costs. I calculate that we can earn back the cost of an engine in just one year’s operation, which means that both engines will have paid for themselves after only two years,” says Bos Smith, Operations Manager at Stevens Towing. Another beneficial effect has been improved working conditions for the crew – being a straight six-cylinder diesel, the TAMD165C generates far lower noise levels and minimal vibration. “The level of comfort onboard has improved enormously and the crew members are very pleased,” concludes Bos Smith.

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