A look into the world of green electrical engineering on superyachts

With the superyacht industry becoming ever “greener”, Yachting Pages spoke to leading electrical vessel design engineering company Atlas Marine Systems, to find out more information on what the company can offer in this eco-friendly time, as well as about the industry and what services can be provided.

When was the business founded and how did it come about?

Atlas products were first developed and originated in the 1970’s, we integrated  motors and generators to manufacture motor generator sets capable of supplying 50 Hz, 60 Hz, and 400 Hz power from alternative input power sources.

In the 1980s, we expanded into the production of UPS (uninterruptable power supplies) systems utilising  AC motors and generators with  DC motors. A talented merchant marine engineer joined Atlas in the late 1980’s and the DC motors were replaced with solid state inverter drives, which lead to the development of the first Atlas ShorPOWER® Classic I Series system being installed on M/Y Krisha. The first Classic Series product was also purchased by M/Y Sally Ann, which was the second system installed in 1995.

In your own words how would you describe your business and how has it developed?

In 1995, Atlas’s primary marketing efforts were directed toward the introduction and presentation of the Classic I ShorPOWER® product line as a new technology to increase the availability of dockside electrical power for owners, captains and engineers of existing yachts. 

Installation of an Atlas ShorPOWER® Classic I enabled yachts to operate from any electrical voltage, phase, and/or frequency present at marinas worldwide using the available utility power.  This technical advancement in solid state power conversion promoted by the Atlas products has been awarded a number of patents because of its novel and inventive attributes.  These attributes allow thousands of yachts worldwide to reduce air and noise pollution by shutting down their on-board diesel generators and operating instead from utility power while docked in marinas.

Atlas became one of the most recognised brands for ShorPOWER® converters on board private yachts worldwide. Atlas Classic I ShorPOWER® had been developed to provide a solution to the number one problem that confronted all yachts as they sail around the world from port to port; that being “incompatible and variable dockside electrical power”.  The electrical power was different in each foreign country they visited.

In 1998, we developed a switchboard product line trademarked as TecPOWER™ systems, which were switch boards that are used as the “heart” of the on-board electrical buss system to control and protect the distribution of electrical power throughout the yacht.  Atlas also offered engineering consulting services to assist the marine engineers in designing the electrical distribution system and defining electrical loads for yachts being built that would require Atlas Classic I ShorPOWER® units to travel worldwide.

What makes you different from your competitors?

Atlas Marine Systems offers one of the most reliable frequency converters available (SPA II and Ultra HF ShorPOWER® product lines) and a worldwide customer service network with a 24/7 hotline.

In 2009, Atlas Marine Systems was merged into the marine division of their parent company Unitron LP. As a result, Atlas Marine Systems has the expertise to design and manufacture the most comprehensive frequency, phase, and voltage converter solutions in the marine industry including 50 Hz, 60 Hz, 400 Hz, 28 VDC, and 270 VDC.  This allows us to meet the requirements for yachts, cargo vessels, naval ships, helicopters and aircrafts.  The product offerings of our competitors are primarily limited to 50/60 Hz equipment.

We offer the most comprehensive range of electrical engineering services in the industry; which includes load analysis, prevention of equipment interface issues, integration of electrical ShorPOWER® and switchboard power management systems and complete vessel electrical design. 

In addition, Atlas designs and manufacturers ShorPOWER® frequency converters and TecPOWER™ switchboards with six levels of power management available. Intimate knowledge of these products and their capabilities enables Atlas designers to incorporate them into the vessel’s on-board electrical power distribution system more effectively and accurately.  Atlas ShorPOWER® products provide the smallest and lightest weight systems coupled with advanced communications and diagnostic systems.

Are there any new developments with the business?

The patented SPA II Atlas Marine Systems converter offered the first ever “True Dual Input Shore Cords” capable of combining power from two sources having different frequency, phase, or voltage to meet the total power requirements of the vessel.  In addition, Atlas product technology can be incorporated into other applications requiring cleaner and more economical power conversion systems such as hybrid power systems that utilise AC and DC power sources.

Who is your key target audience?

Primarily all new construction shipyards, yacht manufactures, existing yacht owners, refit yards, marinas, helicopter and fixed wing aircraft manufacturers, port authorities, military and commercial cargo vessel owners.

What are the biggest challenges that you face in the superyacht industry at the moment?

Tracking and communicating with the vessels as they travel worldwide; the yacht owners are moving targets; they are hard to keep up with.

How is business? Were you affected by the recession?

Atlas business continues to increase, even in a recession; all electric ShorPOWER® frequency converter products offer a compelling, cost effective alternative compared to fossil fuel (diesel) based power generator systems. When yachts are docked in a marina, shutting down the generators and connecting to the utility power is especially desirable in a recession when all cost cutting measures are pursued by owners and their crew.  In addition, it is an environmentally friendly solution that allows yachts to comply to marina “8 to 8” restrictions that require vessels to shut down generators from 8PM to 8AM.

Do you have any top tips or advice in your industry?

The majority of electrical problems and deficiencies we encounter could have been avoided by consulting with electrical engineering firms to perform basic functions, such as load analysis to verify and validate the total power requirements of the vessel.

Can you tell us some of the more bizarre/strange client requests you’ve received?

One of our client’s has incorporated the use of Atlas equipment in the production process within semiconductor fabrication facilities. Several of our clients have also purchased Atlas frequency converters to condition and improve the quality of the power for their homes located in foreign countries that have less refined utility power available.

What are the current trends in your sector at the moment?

A large number of vessels are entering refit to increase the automation level of switchboards and increase the total power rating of the ShorPOWER® systems. Many sailing vessels are exploring hybrid power yacht systems.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Offering a product that provides a less expensive alternative to fossil fuel consumption that reduces the carbon footprint and provides an environmentally friendly solution, all while enhancing the enjoyment of the yachting experience for the owner (use of ShorPOWER® eliminates the noise and fuel exhaust of yacht generators in marinas).  As a result, many owners and crew visit our facility and actively participate in the purchase of Atlas equipment.

Do you attend any boat shows?

Our clients routinely visit our exhibit booths and displays at the Monaco Yacht Show, Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, Miami Boat Show, METS, Dubai Boat Show and Singapore Boat Show.

Who would be your dream client?

After supplying thousands of systems to world leaders, business tycoons, billionaires, and multi-millionaires of the world, our next dream client is only limited by the creativity and imagination of the outstanding architects, designers, and engineering firms that specify Atlas products and serve this fascinating market.

For more information, visit electrical engineering or Atlas Marine Systems.

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