Wärtsilä Opens Factory Extension

Monday, November 26, 2007
Wärtsilä opened an extension to its state-of-the-art production plant in Wuxi, China. Wärtsilä's investment to the Wuxi factory, which manufactures thrusters as well as seals and bearing products for all kinds and sizes of marine vessels, totals 20.8 million euros during 2005-2007. The initial phase of the Wuxi factory represented an investment of 6.6 million euros, which was announced in June 2005. The new extension involves a further investment of 14.2 million euros this year.

Inaugurated in June 2005, the existing factory of Wärtsilä Propulsion (Wuxi) Co Ltd is Wärtsilä's first wholly-owned production venture in China and focuses on the manufacture of transverse thrusters. Also known as bow thrusters and tunnel thrusters, they are used in all kinds of vessels to help in manoeuvring at low ship speeds. Located about 100 km west of Shanghai, the Wuxi factory serves the global shipbuilding market as well as the major shipbuilding areas in East Asia.

Shipbuilding is growing very fast in China. During the past ten years the output has increased by 500%. In 2007 January-September, as regards the number of vessels, contracting is approximately 15 percent above the previous year's level, while tonnage is up by 40 percent. Among the shipbuilding nations, China, the number one country, had 41 percent of new vessel orders, while South-Korea had 30 percent. Since manufacture started in Wuxi in 2005, the factory has produced 300 tunnel thrusters having propellers of 1.2-3.0 m diameter with a power range from 500 to 3500 kW both in fixed pitch and controllable pitch design. However, the market is rapidly developing and there is increasing need for greater manufacturing capacity. With in total 8560 m2 production area (including offices) Wuxi will cater for the manufacture of steerable thrusters and transverse thrusters up to 3.0 m propeller diameter and an input power of 3500 kW, as well as for line shaft bearings and shaft sealing systems. The extension incorporates the state-of-the-art CNC (computer numerically controlled) machining technology.

Wärtsilä currently employs 133 peopel at Wuxi, and will be increased to about 220 when the extension is in full production in 2009. The employees are hired locally with only a few expatriate specialists. The Wärtsilä factory in Wuxi has qualified for ISO 9001 quality certification in January 2007. An important contribution to ensuring high quality is that the factory in Wuxi follows completely the technical requirements set by the engineering departments at Wärtsilä's product companies. Quality plans are in place and our employees continue to receive training.

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