Scania: Propelling the Passenger Vessel Market

By Joseph Keefe

Scania advances into 2018 on the strength of prior year successes and new visibility in one of the North American marine industry’s hottest sectors.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, the first two passenger vessels built by Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark for Entertainment Cruises’ Potomac Riverboat Company division were delivered to Washington, D.C. Both are now in service. The two 88’, 149-passenger high speed aluminum catamaran vessels – the Potomac Taxi I and Potomac Taxi II – departed Metal Shark’s Franklin, La. shipyard and eventually proceeded northward up the Atlantic Coast to Washington. How they got there is less important than what powered the delivery.
Powered by twin Scania DI13 081M diesel engines delivering 500 HP at 1,800 RPM, the USCG Subchapter T vessels were designed by BMT Designers and Planners and BMT Nigel Gee, and feature an environmentally friendly low wake / low wash hull design. The new vessels provide commuters in the metro region with service between Old Town Alexandria; National Harbor, Maryland; and Georgetown and The Wharf in Washington D.C.
New Markets, Big Business
When Scania announced the deal to deliver eight, EPA Tier 3, 500 HP DI13-liter engines in 2017 to power those high-speed, low-wake water taxis, it marked the beginning of what turned out to be a very good year for the San Antonio-based engine manufacturer. That’s because the deal not only represented a significant number of individual engines, but more importantly for Scania, it cemented the firm’s toehold in the red hot domestic ferry sector.
As much as 40 percent of Scania’s North American marine engine sales are made into the fisheries market. But, ferry business is rapidly catching up. Al Alcala, Sales Manager (Marine) for Scania USA Alcala, explained, “We’ve had good success with our distributors and setting up dealers.” As it turns out, that’s exactly what tipped the scales for Scania on their latest sale.
In this case NRE Power Systems of Houma, La. was Scania’s distributor to Metal Shark. Alcala explained, “Mack Boring and Parts in Somerset, NJ really convinced Entertainment Cruises and BMT Nigel Designers and Planners that Scania was the best option. It was a great team effort between two of our largest distributors and Scania USA.”
Why Scania?
Scania's marine engine platform today includes a complete range of 9-, 13- and 16-liter benchmark engines for both propulsion and auxiliary applications. Scania engines are available in EPA tier 3 ratings up to 900 hp, and the firm has also launched a range of IMO tier 3 engines for Canada. That reliability stems from a simple design philosophy, one which employs a modular block design that employs as much as 30 percent in parts commonality. Because so many parts are common to each engine, that means Scania rarely is out of stock on any part.
The modular commonality also comes into play in other ways. Alcala sums up the Scania advantage nicely when he says, “Our 9L, 13L and 16L all share the same head, piston, and fuel system designs. The only difference is the number of cylinders. As such we have unmatched availability of parts if needed because of the commonality. Our modular heads only weigh 40 lbs, allowing for the one-man service concept. If a technician knows how to work on one Scania, he/she knows how to work on any of them.”
Saving weight is the obvious way to reduce fuel consumption and increase performance of any planing vessel. All Scania Marine 13L and 16L engines use Compacted Graphite-Iron (CGI) for their blocks. CGI has twice the tensile strength of gray iron used in competitor engines, but at the same time, is considerably lighter.
Thanks to the superior power-to-weight ratio and compact dimensions of the Scania marine engines, designers have opportunities to optimize efficiency and profitability. Alcala adds, “When I describe the power-to-weight ratio, it is specific to the 800 hp node but still holds true if we compare to other 13 Liter engines or larger at 500hp. I don’t mean to split hairs, but at 800hp there were no other commercial engines smaller than 13L and since we are the lightest, we have the highest power-to-weight. At 500hp, there are smaller engines available, so technically, they could be considered having better power-to-weight ratio. But if you compare apples to apples and rating to rating we are still the leader.” 
For operators, this advantage – several hundred pounds – translates into more passengers and/or cargo per voyage and/or the ability to carry a larger fuel load which in turn allows for greater endurance. In the passenger vessel sector, and taking into account the Coast Guard’s new, heftier passenger weight assumptions, this metric is especially important.
In the end, it was Entertainment Cruises’ Bob Lawler who made the decision to go with Scania. “Scania is able to meet our size, horsepower and weight requirements in a very fuel efficient and affordable package, which combined with Scania’s outstanding customer service we feel we have the perfect partner for this project.”
Josh Stickles, Metal Shark’s Vice President of Marketing, agreed. He told Marine News in December, “Scania offered the right size, power and weight for this application, the company has a great reputation, and an established service network. Also, they were competitively priced.” He continued, “Performance and fuel economy were outstanding right out of the box. Also, the engines are quiet, vibration is minimal, and the hull design is highly effective at reducing wake and wash for minimal environmental impact, which was a key consideration of the client.”
Looking Ahead
Scania today manufactures a wide range of truck, bus, marine and industrial engines. A true propulsion pioneer, the company employs approximately 42,000 employees with an annual turnover of $11 billion. In 2016, it celebrated its 125th year in the business. The best may be yet to come.
For Scania, the 2016 marine engine sales increase, worldwide, over 2015 was 27 percent. As it came to a close, 2017 sales volume (those numbers not ready as MarineNews went to press) was on-track to be 25 percent higher than 2016 – indeed a record year for the engine division at Scania. 
Scania has worked with Metal Shark previously, but Alcala insists that this deal was special. “I believe it’s the professionalism; everyone from Chris Allard, President and Carl Wegner, VP Sales, to their designers, and purchasing people that has really made the project seamless.” That’s good news for all involved, since with two boats already in the water and two more planned for a total of four, this is one newbuild project that has legs into 2018. As Entertainment Cruises found its new niche by providing much needed water transportation for some of the nation’s most congested roads, Scania provided the power to make it happen. Other operators, municipalities and the US DOT’s Maritime Administration will be watching closely to see how it all plays out.
(As published in the January 2018 edition of Marine News)
Marine News Magazine, page 46,  Jan 2018

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