Waterjets Manufacturing Comes Stateside
Thrustmaster’s deal with DOEN brings waterjet manufacturing to the United States.
Marine propulsion and thruster manufacturer Thrustmaster of Texas, Inc. announced a deal earlier this year to acquire the technology of DOEN, an Australian designer and manufacturer of waterjet propulsion systems. The deal is significant in that it makes Thrustmaster the only producer of commercial waterjets in the United States, helping the Houston-based company to expand upon an already strong line of commercial marine propulsion offerings. One of only five marine waterjet manufacturers worldwide that builds waterjets up to 4,000 kW, DOEN has been building waterjets in Australia four nearly 50 years. Spurred by a deteriorating market for manufacturing in Australia, the company ventured out in search for international partners to produce and market its products in other regions, ultimately landing a deal with Thrustmaster.
An agreement between DOEN and Thrustmaster was reached after roughly a year of planning between DOEN’s Director Mark Peters, DOEN’s Director and Chief Engineer Timothy Udvary and Thrustmaster’s founder, president and CEO Joe Bekker. “DOEN approached Thrustmaster, and Thrustmaster acquired the exclusive rights for manufacturing the full range of [DOEN’s] products,” Bekker said, explaining, “Thrustmaster and DOEN work closely together like hand in glove.”
The deal, which Bekker said required Thrustmaster to invest “many millions,” sees Thrustmaster market and build waterjets under its own name, although the products will be interchangeable in whole and in parts with the DOEN waterjets made in Australia. Following a $40 million investment into its 200,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in 2009, Thrustmaster is again expanding its manufacturing facility, this time to 250,000 square feet, adding more CNC machining capabilities, in-house paint capabilities and warehouse storage to stow an inventory of smaller jet sizes. The company also intends to add 40 employees to its current workforce of 250.
The partnership enables Thrustmaster to hold exclusive rights for sales and support of waterjet products in the Americas and Europe, using waterjets and parts built by Thrustmaster in Houston, Texas, while DOEN will continue to serve markets in Asia, Africa and Australasia with waterjets produced in Australia. Each waterjet is supported by Thrustmaster’s global network of sales, spare parts, service and support that includes locations in Houston, Louisiana, Brazil, Europe, Dubai and Singapore.
or Thrustmaster, the deal comes at an opportune time Bekker said. “Thrustmaster has been growing fast over the last 10 years, primarily in the large azimuth thruster segment, like drillship and semi-submersible applications,” he said. “The drillship market has cooled off, and we needed a replacement market to keep our factory busy. Waterjets for commercial and military applications fit our business strategy and nicely complement our existing product lines.”
he initiative strengthens Thrustmaster’s overall product and service offering. Bekker explained that the company’s propeller thrusters and Z-drives fill the need for slow speed propulsion applications up to about 15 knots, while the waterjet product line expands the manufacturer’s range, primarily filling a fast speed niche for applications of 20-50 knots. Thrustmaster’s propeller thrusters range from 26 to 8,000kW and its waterjets range from 100 to 6,400kW.
The Thrustmaster DOEN waterjet lineup includes:
- 100 Series Waterjets are available in seven model sizes ranging from 100kW to 900kW to accommodate vessels from 6m up to 20m. Supported by simple mechanical and electronic control system options.
- 200 Series Waterjets are available in four model sizes ranging from 400kW to 2,500kW to accommodate vessels from 15m up to 45m with stainless steel jets supported by a complete range of electronic controls with joystick docking.
- 300 Series Waterjets are available in two model sizes ranging from 1,300kW to 4,000kW to accommodate vessels from 30m up to 60m with stainless steel jets supported by a complete range of electronic controls with joystick docking.
- New 400/450 Series Waterjets are available in two model sizes up 6,400kW to accommodate large vessels with a complete range of electronic controls with joystick docking.
Thrustmaster’s entire product lineup is designed and manufactured in-house by a complete engineering department for mechanical, hydraulic and electrical design. For 30 years, the company has provided thru-hull azimuthing thrusters, deck-mounted propulsion units for barges, retractable thrusters, transverse tunnel thrusters and the patented Portable Dynamic Positioning System to the offshore and marine.
“Thrustmaster has been the leading supplier of bow thrusters for Fast Supply Vessels (FSVs) for many years already. The market for FSVs is growing fast, with vessels being built in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico region, Brazil, France and other areas,” Bekker said, adding, “There is a growing tendency toward powering these vessels with waterjets.”
Bekker continued, “Most of these vessels have dynamic positioning (DP) capability. Thrustmaster wants to provide complete propulsion and DP solutions for FSVs by offering waterjets, bow thrusters and control packages from a single source. This reduces risk for the shipyard, facilitates easy integration with the DP system provider and it simplifies and accelerates commissioning, startup and sea trials where one Thrustmaster service engineer can do it all. For the vessel operator, it means that they only have to deal with one supplier for repair parts and services.”
Bekker said he also sees promise for U.S. government and military waterjet projects: “Another substantial market for waterjets is the U.S. Government, including the U.S. Navy,” he said. “Thrustmaster has always had strong ties with the U.S. Navy. Being able to get competitively priced waterjets produced and supported in the U.S.A. is quite attractive to the Navy.”
(As published in the September 2014 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - http://magazines.marinelink.com/Magazines/MaritimeReporter)