The Switch, a technology specialist of advanced drive trains, announced its acquisition of Wärtsilä’s marine drives business that encompasses specialised megawatt-class power drives targeting marine applications. The Yaskawa-backed investment gives The Switch a stronger foothold in its growing marine business area. Together, The Switch and the Norway-based marine drives business aim to benefit from a number of inherent added-value synergies, including a stronger machine and drive package offering, a broader product range and a wider market access. As part of the deal, The Switch will gain part of Wärtsilä’s Electrical & Automation (E&A) business line’s test center and the manufacturing facilities in Stord, Norway, that are associated with its marine drives. The Switch will then become a supply chain partner of Wärtsilä for marine drives while also being able to open up the product offering to other customers. The business transition from Wärtsilä to The Switch is due for completion once the operations have been transferred to The Switch.
Stronger core offeringThe Switch investment in the marine drives business enables both companies to fully focus on developing their core competences and creating drive train solutions with better synergy together. Wärtsilä aims to focus on systems, whereas The Switch strives to be the best in providing drive train components to future proof vessels. The specialised marine R&D teams of the synergetic group will collaborate closely, enabling The Switch and Yaskawa to bring additional technical resources to ongoing and future solutions. Additionally, the two will be able to take advantage of building on each other’s solid technical knowledge.
Broader product rangeThis acquisition gives The Switch an opportunity to enhance its offering of world-class products since Wärtsilä’s drive offering is optimised for marine applications. This allows The Switch to broaden its marine business, an area which is taking off with the growing acceptance of the company’s permanent magnet technology. The power drive products are used as proven elements within Wärtsilä’s systems that have already passed various approval requirements and are used in applications ranging from propulsion to drilling. There are currently hundreds of ships sailing with Wärtsilä marine drives. This makes them attractive to other marine customers who are seeking to reduce risk while upgrading to more advanced drive train solutions and hybrid systems. “The Wärtsilä drive products are specially made without compromise for marine applications. These products are ready for integration with various other systems because of their superior communication features, including de facto industry standard interfaces and remote management possibilities. It is also possible to separate the logistics for cabinets and power modules by shipping them later to avoid damages during the long installation times at shipyards,” says Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, President and CEO of The Switch.
Wider market accessAs part of The Switch, the power drives unit will be able to explore new audiences to expand its business. It will also be better positioned to serve customers thanks to The Switch’s extensive international sales and marketing network as well as to offer customers strong after-sales support. Thanks to Yaskawa’s involvement in the investment, the mother company will demonstrate its continued support and interest to ensure that The Switch becomes a major player in its chosen area. For the marine segment, The Switch works closely with Yaskawa as an integrated team and thereby is able to offer this wider product range globally.
“At the moment, the oil and gas market is in a slump. Yet, we are taking a longer perspective in our views of this market. Now is good time to engineer future-proof solutions for marine. Once the market picks up, we’ll be ready to implement them,” says Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen.