The next wave of innovation in contemporary engineering and propulsion for the marine industry has arrived on our shores. Australia’s exclusive Caterpillar engine dealer, Energy Power Systems Australia (EPSA), has released the Cat® Three60 Precision Control, an integrated propulsion and manoeuvring system specifically developed for the commercial marine and pleasure craft market.
Combining yacht propulsion and control components into single or multiple joystick stations, the Cat® Three60 Precision Control will “revolutionise docking and slow speed manoeuvring for diesel powered and conventional driveline vessels,” says Martin Ditchburn, EPSA’s Business Manager for the marine sector.
The Cat® Three60 system combines a Cat electronically controlled marine engine with Twin Disc Quick Shift transmissions, hydraulic bow and stern thrusters and conventional propeller shaft drives all in one system. “The beauty is that this system simultaneously actuates and controls engines, transmissions and thrusters with intuitive and easy fingertip movements,” says Ditchburn. “It is a complete guarantee of confidence."
Engine controls, transmissions, thrusters and propellers can all be activated with the Cat® Three60 by moving the same joystick. The system uses two modes: the Lever Mode, which controls the conventional propeller drive trains using the lever head controller and the thrusters using the optional thruster control panels; and the Joystick Mode, which steers the conventional propeller drive trains and thrusters using the joystick controller. Both modes provide smooth operation and confidence whilst manoeuvring, and the system delivers fully proportional power in any direction with propeller control down to 50 rpm.
“It is ergonomically friendly and remarkably easy to learn with its ‘push, twist, and go’ directional manoeuvring style,” says Ditchburn. “It instantly controls all aspects of vessel direction and speed and eliminates rudder and control lever activities during docking. It also boasts superior slow speed vessel control, allows access to full or incremental power in any direction as well as smooth shifting.”
Cat® Three60 also includes throttle control, electrical harnesses, sensors, bow and stern thrusters and hydraulic system components. Additional enhancements soon to be released include a GPS-based location-maintaining feature, which can also be
retrofitted into existing vessels that have the Cat® Three60 Precision Control system installed (available in early 2013).
Mechanically superior and easier to use than similar products on the market, the Cat® Three60 Precision Control system is a very economical investment over the longer term thanks to its capabilities of manoeuvring vessels over a shorter period of time. By using a traditional shaft drive train, maintenance costs are kept to a minimum, especially in comparison to other manoeuvring systems already in the marketplace.
Martin Ditchburn believes that the system’s unique advantages will be of particular benefit to commercial operators such as fisheries and water taxi services. It will reduce their operating costs and will also deliver essential enhancements to response times for emergency services such as police search and rescue boats.
“The ease of manoeuvring, immediate response time, silky smooth operation and other inherent features of the Cat® Three60 elevate innovation in marine technology to a whole new level,” says Ditchburn. “I am really excited about bringing this product to the Australian market because of its unique and superior value.”