Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Inc. – Arctic shipbuilding technology

unto ryynanen arctech

During his career, Unto Ryynänen, head of the design group, has been involved in building almost 40 ships.

Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Inc. specializes in Arctic shipbuilding technology, building icebreakers and other Arctic offshore and special vessels. Arctech has a long history in ship building. The Helsinki Shipyard was established in 1865 and it has delivered more than 500 ships, including 60 per cent of the icebreakers in operation around the world. Icebreakers and other Arctic vessels have been built at the shipyard for more than 100 years. Arctech focuses on innovative design and continuous development in shipbuilding.

Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Inc. is owned by the Russian company United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC). Arctech is based at the shipyard in Hietalahti, Helsinki. The 17 hectare shipyard has a 280 metre long covered shipbuilding dock, covered fitting and painting work sheds, and three outfitting jetties, at one of which Finland’s latest icebreaker, Polaris, is currently being fitted out.

The company has 550 employees, and 90 of these work in engineering design. Arctech has 17 electrical engineers, including Unto Ryynänen , head of the electrical design group. During his career he has been involved in building almost 40 ships.

“Our engineering design is split into seven main sectors and each of these requires its own special knowhow. These are hull, deck outfitting, interior, HVAC, machinery and electrical design. Each of these has its own group leader,” explains Unto Ryynänen.

“Electrical and automation design are what my group does. That covers quite a large area. There are separate electrical, automation and telecoms engineering offices for land-based applications, but we have them all in the same group.”

Strong order book in a sector sensitive to economic fluctuations

“Arctech is currently in a very positive situation. The company has five ships in its order book and is negotiating for a sixth. It has sufficient work to last into 2018. However, with my 30 years of experience I can say that this is not an easy sector to make predictions about. It has always been very susceptible to the ups and downs in the economy,” states Unto.

Unto shows on the wall of his office a long row of pictures of ships which he has been involved in designing. The last cruise liner to be built at the Helsinki shipyard was completed in 2004, and since then the yard has focused on passenger ferries and Arctic vessels. Hull assembly for two supply or stand-by vessels can take place at the same time in the construction dock and one ship out at the outfitting jetty. At present the shipyard is focusing on Arctic marine technology and ice-breaking vessels.

“In the past few years we have increased the amount of engineering design work that we do ourselves, and have been successful in obtaining experts for our team in different electrical systems. Training up a new engineer in the world of shipbuilding takes time. There’s a jungle of regulations governing shipbuilding,” says Unto.

“If we have a strong order book and our own team is fully occupied in designing previous ships, there is good reason to use subcontractors. We may purchase basic design from one engineering office and, on a case by case basis, detail design from the same or another office, through normal competitive tendering.”

Stages in designing a ship

“The three phases in designing a ship are the concept, basic and detail designs. Electrical design is involved right from the start. First of all we create the main diagram for electricity distribution on the ship, with the main features of the layout for the generators, switchboards, electricity distribution and secured networks. We specify the number of points for internal communications, such as how many phones, and how many antennae points, data outlets and speakers. The regulations for navigation systems specify which equipment always has to be included. In the first instance we design in accordance with these regulations, and then include extra equipment if the client so desires. We also define the level of automation,” states Unto.

“The concept design phase creates the overall dimensions and layout for a ship, and the preliminary design and the ship’s technical specifications are made at the same time. In many cases a consultant has created outline specifications and we receive these ready made. We build on this them with our expanded concept design and specifications.

“After winning an order for a ship, the basic design phase begins. At Arctech electrical design is further divided into several sub-areas, since electrical design encompasses all the systems on a ship that use electricity. These sub-areas are distribution, lighting, automation, safety systems, internal communications, navigation and cable routing. In the basic design phase each of the sub-areas carries on with its own design work separately. Electricity distribution and automation are common factors. Every system needs a supply of electricity, and alarms are required from the different systems to the automation system.

“In the basic design we may make use of an engineering office. For example, edec, which is now part of Comatec Group, went over the basic design phase for the ice-breaker NB509 Murmansk. The design material was ready but it was in Russian. Edec went over the translated material and updated all the working diagrams on our systems with the information we needed. I have been very happy with edec’s work. It has been easy to work with Edec’s design engineers since we already know each other. The work atmosphere has been good,” says Unto.

“In the detail design phase we create a more precise design and produce the documents so that production can install equipment, lay the cabling and connect it, and commission equipment. In this phase the precise requirements for the equipment for internal communications are determined – the phones and speakers, cabling and connections. For automation, the figures listed in the measuring point list, what is measured, how and where, become cabling charts in which various controls, measurements and alarms are passed by cable from the systems to the switchboards.”

Duplicate systems

“A ship has to be in use at all times, even if a fault occurs somewhere. This is taken into account for example by duplicating systems.

“Passenger vessels have even more system duplication, since they are governed by the ”safe return to port” regulation. If something happens, the ship is able to limp back to the port,” states Unto.

“Supply and stand-by vessels for oil fields have slightly different requirements. The “safe return to port” requirements for these are not as high as for vessels classified as passenger ships. For the DP2 class, dynamic position (DP), which means that a vessel stays in place while it operates, requires a vessel to actually stay in position while unloading. For example, when it has the loading hoses connected. As well as duplicating systems, analyses are also carried out of the impact on systems if a fault occurs. Arctech is able to carry out some of the analyses itself but also makes use of consultants that have specialized in these.

Seeing the whole picture is important

“It is always better to be able to have a voice in equipment purchases from the viewpoint of electrical design and automation at an early stage. This makes sure that voltages and frequencies are correct and that the equipment and systems are compatible. Keeping the whole picture in view is certainly the most difficult part of design. We try as far as possible to purchase ready packages, so that the shipyard only has to do the cabling and connections, without having to purchase anything extra.

“At least one, preferably two trial runs are made for each ship. The jetty tests are made first, with test runs of the systems to check that they function properly. That is when we test the diesel engines and auxiliary systems, the electricity network and the propulsion. After this the sea tests check the performance and seaworthiness of the ship.

During his career, Unto Ryynänen, head of the design group, has been involved in building almost 40 ships.