At a strategic planning meeting hosted in Italy this month, ZF Marine CEO Roland Heil reaffirmed the marine group's intention to take a leadership role in developing advanced propulsion systems. Stephane Jacquemond, appointed last year to head up a new propulsion systems
division, expects ZF Marine to introduce some dramatic new products. "We have gathered together the best talent this industry has to offer," he reported. "Now we are bringing those resources together to build systems that will save boat builders, and owners, time and money."
Recent acquisitions and joint ventures have given ZF Marine a wider range of technical expertise and manufacturing capabilities. A joint venture with Fabio Buzzi's FB Design company and the foundation of ZF-Trimax to market surface-drive systems first signaled ZF Marine's intention to enter new markets. For a 38-foot Sunseeker XS 2000 application, ZF Marine incorporated 2-speed transmissions and technology used in surface-drive systems with improvements in hull design achieved by Fabio Buzzi's company.
Controllable pitch propellers were added to ZF Marine's product line with the acquisition last fall of Piening Marine Tecnic S.L. in Spain. Ulf Becker, founder and owner, was retained to head up the company, renamed ZF Marine Technic S.L. CPP options include nozzled designs for high-thrust maneuverability and highly-skewed configurations for achieving maximum noise and vibration reductions. The three- and four-bladed designs cover a power range from around 300 kW to 10,000 kW.
ZF Marine also announced a joint venture agreement last fall with Taiwan-based Faster Propulsion System Co. Ltd.. Named ZF Faster Propulsion System Ltd., the joint-venture company is offering a complete range of fixed-pitch propellers in standard, skew and nozzled configurations with diameters up to 3 meters.
Expansion into propeller manufacturing was a critical piece of ZF Marine's long-range planning. "These agreements moved us closer to our intention to supply boat builders and engine manufacturers with complete propulsion systems," Jacquemond noted. "With the addition of ZF Faster Propulsion System Ltd., and ZF Marine Technic S.L., we are able to meet the most demanding requirements, not only for commercial vessels, but also for luxury yachts and high-speed military craft."
The acquisition of Mathers Controls Inc. in September brought a new component of propulsion systems to the ZF Marine product line. The fifty-year-old company, renamed ZF Mathers LLC, has been a pioneer in the development of multi-station electronic and processor-based controls.