It looks like an ordinary Wärtsilä engine, but it’s much more. The efficiency, flexibility and versatility of the new medium-speed Wärtsilä 31 will revolutionise the market. This engine is the greatest product innovation in all of Wärtsilä’s history. Ilari Kallio, Vice President, R&D, couldn’t be prouder of the result of years of development.
“The Wärtsilä 31 is much more than just a new product. It’s much more than an R&D investment. It’s an exertion by the whole company, which not only developed completely new technology for it, but also new working methods and product architecture,” he says.
With the Wärtsilä 31 engine, a large supply vessel will save up to three million euros in diesel fuel costs over five years, depending on fuel price. Additional savings will be achieved, for example, in serviceability. As the engine is a long-term investment, its flexibility is vital. The world is changing fast: who knows what fuel prices will be like in the future, for gases or liquid fuels?
“It’s hard for clients to predict the future. The Wärtsilä 31 is in charge of these X-factors in a flexible way, because it can be easily upgraded for new kinds of use and run with different fuels,” Kallio explains.
The Wärtsilä 31 is the result of five years of product development. It was designed from start to finish in Vaasa, the principal city of the energy cluster, and will also be manufactured there. In Kallio’s opinion, the Guinness world record is proof of the top-class engineering know-how of the region.
“This is an extremely competitive field and a global business. Nevertheless we were able to develop a product that challenges all other manufacturers,” he points out.
Research expertise has been utilised especially in developing technologies and calculation methods. The company’s collaboration with universities over the years has also provided concrete results. Local research expertise has been utilised especially in developing technologies and calculation methods. Wärtsilä has been able to take huge strides in product upgrades compared to the rest of the market.
“We have invested a great deal, for example, in fuel and operational flexibility, as well as in the usability and serviceability of the engine. We have also improved the automation system considerably.”
The engine is not only revolutionising Wärtsilä, but also the industry itself to some degree. The design work for the engine brought about the need to create an entirely new kind of product platform and product architecture. These will also be an important basis for future product design. Quality can be guaranteed particularly effectively when the product development team includes production and service right from the start. Modular design, on the other hand, helps to control the complex nature of various product families.
“We are able to offer different variants that meet our customers’ specific needs. The product consists of modules and the modules consist of parts. Different modules can then be configured to create different products,” Kallio explains.
In fact, the new modular method of design is opening completely new uses for the Wärtsilä 31. The engine was launched for the marine market, but right from the start all customer segments and their needs were taken into account in the development work and in defining the product architecture to make sure that eventually the most efficient engine in the world will serve all of Wärtsilä’s customers.
Wärtsilä 31 – medium-speed 4-stroke engine
- Lowest fuel consumption over a wide operating range (in diesel version 165 g/kWh)
- Highest cylinder power in its segment, 610 kW/cylinder
- Available in Diesel, Dual Fuel and Pure Gas versions
- Suitable for AHTSs, OSVs, drilling and semi-submersible vessels, the cruise and ferry sector and merchant fleets
Business sector: Decentralised power plants and ship power systems. Service, operations and maintenance.
Turnover 2014: €4,779 million
Employees: 17,700 (Finland 3,700)
Major markets: Worldwide