Quick steps ahead with new thruster technology
Quick steps ahead with new thruster technology
Since its founding in the 1980s, Italian manufacturing specialist Quick Spa has evolved and expanded to offer a diverse selection of core marine equipment to builders and OEMs around the world. Headquartered in Ravenna, Italy, Quick employs inhouse design, engineering and production for all its divisions, which span everything from marine lighting to windlasses, gyro stabilisers, battery chargers and docking systems.
Cut and thrust
A key part of Quick Spa’s business has been its thruster division, for which engineering and design began in the early 2000s with production on the first range starting in 2007. Since then, the company has built its thruster division to be a major player in the global market, producing more than 10,000 units per year for a number of well-known Italian, European, American and international boatbuilders.
Starting with classic DC thrusters, Quick now offers five different ranges to suit differing needs, covering DC, AC, DC-AC, hydraulic and the all-new QSY range, which uses synchronous motors for the ultimate in variable control and sustained usage. In addition, the company produces retractable thrusters which are the ideal solution for sailing yacht manufacturers. Its extensive offering means there is a Quick solution for any yacht from 5 metres to more than 50 metres in length.
The popularity and proven reliability of Quick’s thrusters is reflected in the latest sales results from the division, which showed a 26% increase in 2022 compared to 2021 – a rise in demand that the company was able to meet thanks to its foresight and its strategic investment in components and materials. The company is forecasting growth of an additional 10% in 2023, an impressive achievement against the backdrop of a cooling market as the post-pandemic bounce begins to normalise.
Central to the success of Quick’s thruster division over just 15 years of operation has been its dedication to the very best in design and engineering, coupled to the very highest Made in Italy standards of fabrication and production. The fruits of that dedication are being borne through the latest thruster line to be added to Quick’s extensive range – the QSY line.
The QSY thrusters, employ a synchronous motor that uses permanent magnets, a construction that allows more thrust for less power draw than a classic DC motor. Furthermore, the system also offers variable thrust – something that DC motors are not capable of without additional system hardware – they are completely plug and play thanks to the integrated driver and they are characterized by considerable endurance with ten minutes or more continuous usage. The brushless motors mean reduced maintenance as well as increased efficiency and greatly reduced noise, and the units are also rated IP68 as standard, which means they can be mounted on the stern without any additional protection.
In particular, it is the energy efficiency aspect that makes the growing QSY range perfect for a future where the electrification of yachts will likely grow in prominence to meet more stringent emissions standards. “The more you electrify the more you will need energy efficient solutions,” says Andreas Karlsen, Head of Sales North Europe at Quick. “With a classic DC thruster, you need to have a separate, thruster-dedicated battery bank, whereas with a QSY thruster there’s the option of integrating it with the yacht’s main battery bank as the thruster draws a lot less power.”
Quick’s QSY thruster range offers other advantages too, making it a true step-up solution for boatbuilders and yacht customers. “Whereas across the different classic DC thrusters on the market there are a lot of similarities between manufacturers, our range offers something genuinely different,” says Karlsen. “For the 185mm size, which is used on mid-range boats of 9 to 18 metres and is therefore the most in-demand thruster size, we are the only company to offer contra-rotating propellers, which deliver equal thrust on both sides – all our competitors only start to offer that at the larger 260mm size. It’s indicative of our wider mission, which is flexibility for our customer base in offering them as many options as possible.”
The QSY range currently comprises four key models at 140mm, 185mm, 250mm and 300mm tunnel sizes, covering yachts sizes from approximately 7 metres to 30 metres. More models are planned for launch over the coming months.
Across its diverse portfolio of products, Quick boasts extensive technical design, engineering and manufacturing expertise that it is able to leverage across its business segments. “We are a very diversified company which works with a lot of products, some of which border each other,” says Karlsen. “For thrusters, we draw on two key technical offices within the wider company – the Technical Mechanical office for the thruster units themselves, and the Electronics office for the control systems. Being able to draw on these resources is absolutely key to determining what the market needs and then implementing those needs into the best design.”
R&D has always been part of Quick’s DNA, from on-screen design to testing and trials of all our products. All new thruster designs are fully prototyped and tested in-house at a dedicated thruster testing facility. This allows the team to check and refine elements such as the thrust force, the elimination of cavitation, the optimisation of the propellers, and other facets that are essential to ensure maximum thruster efficiency with minimum noise and vibration. Furthermore, Quick does all its own castings for the gear legs, propellers, flanges, couplings and other component parts.
“The mechanical workshop of the Group which counts more than 30 numerical control machines is the heart of all our manufacturing, and it also gives us full quality control,” Karlsen enthuses. “The entire production line is traceable through barcodes, so we know which specific units have been manufactured for which clients.”
In addition, production of the Group is on just-in-time manufacturing: each thruster, as well as all other products in the portfolio, is made to order, thus allowing the follow up in case of product customization. A choice that does not affect the speed of supply, because items are from stock.