Development of an Electric Propulsion System for Commercial Marine Vessels - Using Lean Product Development and Set-Based Concurrent Engineering Principles
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Operational costs and environmental concerns have led to an increased demand for energy-efficient and low-emission marine vessels. The development of an electric propulsion system is a response to this demand. A highly competitive market with a lot of alternative propulsion systems offered at competitive price levels, such as diesel, diesel with SCR, diesel-electric and hybrid propulsion systems, forces the developers of a new electric propulsion system to focus on efficiency and flexibility the development process.Lean thinking is a philosophy, which focuses on the creation of customer-defined value and the elimination of waste. Lean thinking has been widely researched and applied in manufacturing and production processes, to help companies stay competitive. However, little research has been conducted in the field of lean product development compared to lean production. The principles of set-Based Concurrent Engineering (SBCE) is argued to enable a lean product development (LPD) process, and to provide several potential benefits among others improved product development process efficiency compared to conventional product development (PD) approaches.This thesis presents the development process of an electric propulsion system for commercial marine vessels, in the form of a case study. The product development process implements Lean product development and Set-Based Concurrent Engineering principles. The development project is done in collaboration with a relatively small engineering company, with limited research and development resources, but with extensive experience and knowledge within marine propulsion system engineering. The company assumes an integrator role in the PD process.The research has resulted in a structured product development process, incorporating lean product development and SBCE principles, customized especially for the development of an electric marine propulsion system. The contribution of this thesis is a better understanding of SBCE, and of how SBCE principles and tools can be implemented in new product development. The thesis provides this understanding by describing and exemplifying, in a step-by-step manner, how SBCE principles and tool are implemented in each product development phase. This work also contributes commercially through the development of a standardized and module-based electric propulsion system design, which can be used in different marine applications. The final electric propulsion system design is a result of; initial development of multiple sets of alternative subsystem solutions, followed by exploration and evaluation of the subsystem alternatives using trade-off curves (among other tools), before convergence towards a final design in a structured selection process that utilizes decision matrices. The new electric propulsion system design solution can be utilized in both new shipbuilding projects and repowering projects. The modular product architecture also allows for customization and possible future upgrading.