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Thrustmaster Corporate Brochure

Towboat Z-Drives


Thrustmaster builds a complete line of Z-Drive azimuthing thrusters from 500 HP to 8,000 HP for the inland towboat industry specifically designed to endure the demanding conditions when operating in brown water. Using Z-drives on towboats results in substantially improved fuel efficiency, shorter trip times, decreased maintenance downtime and higher customer satisfaction when compared to traditional shaft and rudder installations.

Vastly improved maneuverability without rudders
A Z-drive replaces the propeller, shaft, stern tube, marine gear, rudder and steering gear all with a single unit. Z-Drive azimuthing thrusters provide maximum thrust in any direction, independent of vessel speed, offering superior pinpoint maneuverability under all conditions. Rudders are completely eliminated. Rudder drag no longer exists. Troublesome operations such as stopping while pushing a tow downstream are easy when piloting a towboat equipped with Z-Drives. It facilitates quick switching of barges and parallel parking. And all of this can be done with a lot less power. A 1,500 HP Z-drive boat can replace a 2,000 HP conventional towboat and a 3000 HP Z-drive boat can replace a 4,000 HP conventional towboat.

Safer, faster, using less fuel
Due to the greatly improved maneuverability with Z-drives, costly collisions
can be avoided. There is no longer any need to slow down in turns and bends in
the river. Trip times are reduced and require a lot less fuel. A study conducted
by The Shearer Group, Inc. showed an average of 28% fuel savings and 11%
trip time savings during a set of controlled experiments with unit tows when
using Z-Drives instead of conventional shafts and rudders.

When the big tows of up to 40 195 x 35-foot barges come down river, it is the fleeting tugs job to take selected barges off the tow and park them in the riverside fleet. A fleet is a string of barges moored along the river for which smaller towboats provide switching and shifting duties. Later they will take the barges to nearby docks or ships moored in mid-stream for offloading. This is a job that requires a power and agility in the towboat that moves these barges around. It is a high demand job in which time and timing are all important.

The advantages of using z-drives on inland towboats are decreased installation time, increased fuel efficiency, increased trip time efficiency, decreased major maintenance downtime, and higher customer satisfaction when compared with traditional rudder propeller installations. A study showed an average of 28% fuel savings and 11% trip time savings for a set of controlled experiments with unit tows thanks to Z-Drives.

Due to these clear benefits Thrustmaster has a growing reference list of inland towboat companies enjoying operational advantages and tremendous fuel savings courtesy of a robust product lineup of Z-Drive thruster solutions.

Towboat operational performance is increased with cleaner thrust coming through the Z-Drive’s kort nozzles eliminating parasitic loss of the propulsion power seen with a traditional vessel. Operators achieve pure directional thrust pushing, pulling and turning the tow.

Towboats can get equivalent performance in a smaller power output that allows tug fleets to use smaller engines. This makes the towboats lighter and with less weight penalty they are more fuel efficient. A 1,400 hp pushboat (with the Z-Drive) can perform the same as a conventionally outfitted boat with 2,000 hp– same barges, same loads – as each thruster has full power at 360 degrees. With traditional systems you only have full power in one direction.

An Engineered Solution

Thrustmaster offers flexible engineering and design standards with every product and is particularly adept at looking at the project as a whole to design with the naval architect, with the shipyard and ultimately with the owner what is agreed to be an optimal solution. This benefits retro-fits of existing vessels with new drives taking in consideration the well height, gear angle along with the options offered such as the mechanical fuse and engine mounted disengaging clutch.


Towboat Z-Drives References

Propulsion Equipment

Two (2) 750 HP Thrustmaster Azimuthing Z-Drives Model TH750MZN with Nozzles

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