Page 8: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (March 2001)

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Investment in Desien

Diesel renaissance in Italy by David Tinsley, technical editor /

At a time when the South Korean heavyweights have signaled their determination to capture more than 50 percent of the global mar- ket for low-speed diesel engines, an Ital- ian renaissance in two-stroke production testifies to a determination in one of the

European camps not to bow to oriental industrial ascendancy.

As part of a broad-based manufactur- ing program encompassing two-stroke and four-stroke designs, the streamlined

Trieste plant of Wartsila Italia reported firm contracts, letters of intent and options for 25 Sulzer low-speed engines when your correspondent visited the works during February.

Since the former Grandi Motori Tri- este (GMT) plant came under Wartsila management in 1997, followed by

Finnish group's 100 percent takeover at the outset of January 1999, major efforts have been put into making the factory competitive on a worldwide basis.

That this has been achieved with a diversified production portfolio, in an era when large-scale manufacturing at any one location is trending towards optimized output of as few products as possible, is a measure of Wartsila's cir- cumspect organizational planning and investment in production technology.

While in-house manufacturing capa- bility is elemental to competitiveness in the four-stroke sector, the Finnish group's recourse to two-stroke building capacity at Trieste provides it with first- hand experience in a field of production otherwise dominated by licensees in the

Far East. This type of involvement can only benefit its activities as a driver of two-stroke technology and design devel- opment.

Success in building the two-stroke business at Trieste, while reflecting the increased efficiency of the plant and the group's European manufacturing net- work as a whole, has also been assisted by the recent rise in Far East engine prices, attributable perhaps to huge orderbook commitments

The Sulzer low-speed engine order- book in Trieste includes a high concen- tration of RTA72U-B units for contain- ership newbuild projects at German yards. It also features the RTA84C design, underscoring the Italian plant's scope for wide-bore machinery, and has recently been boosted with RT-flex com- mon-rail engines booked for a reefer

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