RESURGENT UK HIGH-SPEED ENGINE

18-cylinder VP185 auxiliary genset used in a cruise ship (credit: MAN Energy Solutions) 18-cylinder VP185 auxiliary genset used in a cruise ship (credit: MAN Energy Solutions)
Industry Database

More than 25 years since its roll-out, the UK-developed VP185 high-speed diesel engine is continuing to attract contracts and wide interest in the marine export market. Much of the work intake at the Colchester factory of the UK arm of MAN Energy Solutions emanates from military customers in South East Asia and Middle East, drawn by the design’s potency and performance record, writes David Tinsley.

The forward production programme at Colchester for marine applications of the versatile VP185 includes 11 engines in 18-cylinder configuration and six examples of the 12-cylinder version. Three of the 18-cylinder units have been specified at the design’s 4,000kW top rating.

As a propulsion unit, MAN’s UK-built, compact vee-form models offer a competitive alternative in target market sectors to Rolls-Royce Power Systems’ MTU-brand 12V4000M93L and 20V4000M93L, of 2,700kW and 4,000kW, respectively.

Achieving competitiveness in the high-speed segment of the marine engine market has always been especially demanding due to the exacting requirements as to machining and assembly procedures, calling for adherence to the finest tolerances. Availability and retention of the associated craft skills and experience is of parallel importance. MAN’s investment programme at the factory, where the resurgence of manufacturing complements a key role in engine servicing, overhaul and after-sales, has created a stronger platform for the business.

Among the planned deliveries over the course of the next 12 months are eight 18-cylinder VP185 engines, specified at 3,400kW at 1,850rpm, for installation in patrol vessel newbuilds under construction in Italy by Fincantieri. A further three 18VP185M propulsion engines plus six 12-cylinder models, are due to be shipped later this year to South East Asia, to be fitted in patrol boats building in Vietnam. These 18-cylinder units have a contract rating of 4,000kW at 1,950rpm, while the 12-cylinder diesels will yield 2,720kW at the same running speed.

Last year’s production run with the VP185 included six 18-cylinder models of 3,500kW for propulsion duties in patrol vessels ordered from PT Citra Shipyard in Indonesia. A single 18VP185M of 3,600kW was also supplied to a Spanish fast ferry operator.

The VP185 was designed and initially rolled-out in 1993 at Colchester, the erstwhile Paxman works, by GEC Alsthom Diesels, which became Alstom Engines four years later. In 2000, Augsburg-based MAN B&W Diesel, as it was then, acquired Alstom Engines and its Mirrlees Blackstone, Paxman and Ruston brands, plus the respective plants at Stockport, Colchester, and Newton-le-Willows. Some £20m (US$26m today) was ploughed into Stockport, as the pivotal future element in the group’s UK network. Subsequent events saw the closure of the Newton-le-Willows factory, the transfer of production of the latest Ruston medium-speed series, the RK280, to Germany, and an emphasis on a service role for the UK subsidiary.

However, the population of VP185 engines serving the marine propulsion, marine auxiliary, rail traction, power generation, industrial and other sectors has continued to grow, and the marque received a huge fillip in 2014 when an order was secured from the Far East for a total of 60 engines to be installed in patrol vessels. The £39m (US$51m) contract included gearboxes, controls and monitoring equipment, and was thought to be the single largest UK propulsion engine export deal for nearly three decades.

Employing a 90-degree cylinder bank angle, the VP185 is characterised by its high power-to-weight and power density ratios. It features a two-stage turbocharging arrangement with intercooling and aftercooling, based on multiple automotive-type turbos, and providing a wide torque curve. Water-cooled jackets surround the exhaust manifolds and turbochargers to provide a low engine surface temperature, helping to maintain low engine room temperature.

Engines can be offered to IMO Tier III standard through the adoption of selective catalytic reduction(SCR) technology.

Design enhancements have been implemented to raise the appeal to various and disparate markets. Electronic fuel injection, rather than conventional, mechanical delivery, is highlighted as one improvement in literature directed at the rail traction sector, an early important market for the VP185 and its predecessor, the Valenta engine.

At the uppermost end of the output scale in the case of both 12- and 18-cylinder models, the A1 rating definition is generally for fast patrol boats where the rated power is only required for approximately 15% of the operating profile. The A2 categorisation applies to fast patrol or displacement craft where 90-100% of rated power is likely to be used for 70% of the operating profile. The B rating is typically for longer-range displacement vessels, where 70-100% of the rated output is expected to be required for more than 70% of the operating profile.

PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS

MAN VP185(marine) engine

Engine model

Rating class

kW

Rpm

12VP185TM

Unrestricted Marine (B)

2,000

1,765

12VP185TM

Unrestricted Marine (A2)

2,300

1,860

12VP185TM

Limited Time (A1)

2,720

1,950

18VP185TM

Unrestricted Marine (B)

3,000

1,765

18VP185TM

Unrestricted Marine (A2)

3,500

1,860

18VP185TM

Limited Time (A1)

4,000

1,950

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