Danish Two-Stroke Bastion
As part of the drift of heavy industrial activity from Europe to the Far East, production of two-stroke diesel propulsion machinery has become the province of the leading national players in newbuild construction. However, close to the northern tip of Jutland, MAN B&W's Alpha Diesel division has restored a substantial Danish capability for low-speed engine manufacturing, to the extent that its Frederikshavn works has emerged as a bastion of European two-stroke production.
The extension in the market reach of the already diversified plant, renowned for its integrated propulsion packages based on four-stroke drives, is a clear endorsement of the substantial investments made by MAN B&W in dedicated facilities in recent years. It is no less an expression of industrial and commercial will.
Since the preponderance of MC-series low-speed machinery designed by MAN B&W's Danish arm is constructed by licensees, and predominantly those in the Far East, the Alpha operation has added value in providing a group-owned window into the production-related aspects of engine design. Moreover, it provides a basis for better honing practical skills associated with the after-sales support function, an ever-more important aspect of business for engine licensors and makers.
After some years of building the minibore models in the MAN B&W twostroke range, the Alpha factory made its debut in the 500 mm-bore category in July 1998. when the first 6L50MC unit was rolled-out of the extended production facilities in Frederikshavn. The plant investment effectively raised the scope of the works to meet the propulsion needs of vessels of Panamax size, in the case of single-engine installations, and larger tonnage where twin-engine layouts are involved. In fact, within the past two years. Alpha Diesel's deliveries have included the twin propulsion engines for two of the first three Millennium- class crude carriers under construction at Avondale. Each 30.030-bhp installation for the milestone tanker program comprises a pair of 7S50MC-C low-speed units.
Another link with the U.S. shipbuilding industry has now been established through an order for the same type of engine, a seven-cylinder S50MC-C, to be supplied to Friede Goldman Halter's Pascagoula yard. This will provide the propulsive power for a 13,000-dwt pure car/truck carrier (PCTC) destined to operate in the U.S. West Coast/Hawaii trade under the banner of Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines.
The S50MC-C also figures prominently in a clutch of new orders from the Turkish market, where Alpha claims to be the leading supplier of two-stroke propulsion plant. Significantly, most of the engines figure as part of complete propulsion package contracts. While other areas of the European diesel engine building industry have rationalized the product flow from individual factories, MAN B&W has invested in a broader offering from Alpha, as concerns both its integrated propulsion systems supply capability, as well as fourstroke and two-stroke engine lines.
Accordingly, the future for engineering production at Frederikshavn clearly rests in a wide remit of engines, gearboxes, controllable pitch propellers and monitoring systems.
Underscoring its growing international profile as a two-stroke producer, some 186,000-bhp of MAN B&W Alpha's total order intake of approximately 237.000-bhp of new engines between January and August this year entailed two-stroke models.