Top 5 Benefits of ZF Marine’s Industry-Leading Thrusters


Published Sep 27, 2023 1:05 PM by ZF Marine

In 2007, ZF Marine blazed new trails when it developed the first-ever azimuth thrusters for inland waterways. Southern Towing Co, now the Southern Devall Group, adopted these innovative products, which offered revolutionary 360-degree control, for their new-build program – a decision that proved to not only be safer and more efficient, but also more cost effective. Today, ZF Marine continues to set the industry standard by developing marine thrusters for commercial and fast vessels, such as tugs, ferries and those in inland waterways, that are tailored to each customer and application. Read on to learn the Top 5 reasons why ZF Marine continues to lead the way in the marine thruster market.

1. Adaptability to many types of propeller systems

ZF Marine offers a comprehensive range of azimuth and tunnel thruster solutions for commercial and fast vessels. The company’s line of thrusters boast a power range from 100 to 2,500 kW, which can be matched with diesel, electric or hybrid applications. These thrusters can also be paired with an open propeller, counter-rotating propellers or with a nozzle. Each thruster is typically equipped with a control system that enables both steering and propulsion control of the ship, offering precision control and response.

2. Better safety and maneuverability

As demonstrated with Southern Towing Company in the video below, ZF Marine’s thrusters helped their vessels achieve better maneuverability and handling compared to traditional shaftline vessels. This improved performance reduces operational risk by offering 100-percent thrust in all directions.

3. Reduced fuel consumption

The optimized performance that ZF Marine thrusters provide also translates to reduced fuel consumption. Many customers report saving between 10 to 20 percent in fuel costs, as compared to a traditional shaft line vessel.

4. Innovation that continuously improves efficiency

Last year, ZF launched a new thruster product, the ZF AT 80. This innovative thruster is now available as a 360-degree steerable thruster, as a retractable propulsion system or as a tunnel thruster. Its hydrodynamically optimized underwater housing reduces drag and improves cavitation behavior. This increases the overall efficiency of the propulsion system. Further, the lean and compact design helps save valuable installation space in the hull. Because this propulsion system’s efficiency is higher, operators tangibly can reduce CO2 emissions. Leakages are detected early with a future-oriented, double-chamber sealing system. As a result, the model range meets current and future stricter environmental regulations.

In combination with a hydrodynamically optimized nozzle, the entire upper and lower drivetrain was further re-engineered with ZF’s Autotroll system and ease-off gear designs that reduce operational down time, increase efficiency and provide upwards of 20 percent more thrust. 

5. Future proof and electrification ready

The marine industry is rapidly evolving, and today’s generation of captains are embracing new technologies. As a wave of electrification enters, the ZF Marine thruster portfolio is well positioned to meet the new coming requirements. Already available and on the market, ZF Marine offers thruster solutions that integrate with electric systems, especially those in the ferry and workboat market. ZF Marine thrusters are a proven tool vessel owners can use to help bridge the gap to zero emissions or net-zero emissions now and in the future.

Bonus Reason: ZF Marine's customer support

In addition to the above advantages, customers also benefit from the worldwide availability of spare parts through all the ZF service points in the global ZF Marine network. Thanks to the ZF Service Readiness Program with selected and qualified service partners, spare parts and service expertise are 24/7 available worldwide. Click here for more information or find a dealer closest to you.

ZF Marine is now offering an extended warranty program designed to extend coverage across the company’s full portfolio of transmissions and controls products. This new warranty program lengthens ZF’s standard warranty window up to six years, a generous coverage period unavailable elsewhere in the market. The extended warranty program is fully customizable, depending on the product and length of warranty requested. To learn more about ZF Marine’s extended warranty for transmissions and controls, customers should contact their account managers or call the 1-833-ZFMarine customer care hotline.

ZF Marine also recently launched an all-new ZF Marine service app, available for download from the Apple Store and Google Play. The app is free to use and available for download now. Once open, the app prompts users to select from an easy-to-navigate menu of the above options. With the touch of a button, customers now have immediate support.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.