SueryachtNews.com was on hand for a presentation delivered by Daniel Härter, vice president of industrial technology & CEO of ZF Marine Propulsion Systems, and André Körner, head of the commercial & fast craft product line, as well as the food, drink and networking opportunity.
“This may have been the most important year in the ZF Group’s history,” began Härter. “Firstly, it was ZF’s 100th anniversary a few weeks ago, which we celebrated in Friedrichshafen. Secondly, we completed the acquisition of TRW Automotive in May of this year.”
The acquisition of TRW has propelled the ZF Group into the top three automotive suppliers in the world and will allow ZF Marine to benefit from an unprecedented technological cross-fertilisation that spans the automotive, non-automotive and marine sectors. Of the ZF Group’s predicted $30 billion turnover for 2015, around $1.6 billion will be spent on research and development.
“We, as a marine industry, are looking to the innovations beyond our market where we can benefit from this TRW acquisition,” continued Härter. In a two-month project ZF and TRW created an autonomous vehicle that can be parallel-parked using an apple watch in a space with only 60 centimetres' clearance.
At the end of Härter’s introduction a Blohm+Voss representative inquired as to when we are to expect autonomous superyacht berthing. “We have already had the first research and development exchanges,” responded Härter. “However, I cannot provide an accurate road map - but it is certainly on the agenda.”
With representatives from the industry's top shipyards, management companies and other propulsion component specialists present, Körner dove into the nuts and bolts of ZF Marine’s offerings. “We have a lot to offer this industry beyond our traditional transmission systems,” started Körner. “Around 80 per cent of the yachts at this show use our transmission systems, but we are here to show the industry that we have more to offer.” Throughout the presentation and in an exclusive interview once the networking had concluded, Körner highlighted that the future of ZF’s marine growth was to diversify its portfolio.
“If you look at the industry today you have the typical mechanical companies, transmission manufacturers, engine manufacturers, electronics specialists and so on,” Körner explained. “But it's hard to find a company which combines them all. There are joint ventures, but not turnkey solutions. With TRW we are now strong with regards to sensors and mechanical products, we are calling it mechatronics.”
Beyond the transmissions, of which the superyacht community is well aware, ZF Marine also offers hybrid transmissions, control systems, azimuth thrusters and surface drivers, as well as more products in the R&D phase and the facilities to physically test individual products pre-sale and provide assurances.
Using in-house testing facilities ZF checks every transmission that leaves the shop and provides each shipyard with a data sheet containing the products acoustic footprint. “One of the main issues in this industry is comfort, noise and vibrations. We provide solutions to each,” Körner assured.
Once the presentation had finished, a handpicked selection of delegates from the likes of Blohm+Voss, MB’92, CAT and many more, helped themselves to a selection of lavish food and beverages. The champagne and discussion flowed as delegates prepared themselves for another busy day at the Monaco Yacht Show 2015.