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Twiflex compact propulsion shaft TLB System


Twiflex launched a Turning, Locking & Braking TLB System that provides a compact solution to allow a ship’s propulsion shaft position to be set and locked when the vessel is stationary.

The Twiflex TLB System consolidates three usually separate interfaces and functions into one design package. The modular TLB system is configured to allow customers to select and install one of the turning, locking and braking functions individually or choose paired or complete turning, locking and braking functionality depending on project requirements.

The continuous turning design of the Twiflex TLB system delivers bi-directional performance with an option of variable-speed turning, infinite positioning, a balanced load profile and quicker stopping.

The system was originally commissioned by a manufacturer of marine propulsion systems for an ice-breaking vessel. The solution required should be easily operated to perform multiple functions. Twiflex engineers designed and delivered the complete package so that it could be quickly integrated with the rest of the drive train.

“The project presented several interesting challenges, namely delivering the turning, braking and locking functions within a single system that would meet the footprint given,” said Steve Powell, Product Manager. “Twiflex had to ensure that all components specified for the project were suitable for the marine environment whilst offering a system that could easily be installed and operated in the available space.

“A customized hydraulic power pack and local control panel was also designed as part of the package. One of our biggest achievements was demonstrating our ability to design, manufacture and supply the equipment in a very short timescale and to cost, which ensured we won the order over other more established competitors in this field.”

The Twiflex TLB-180 includes a split disc with gear tooth profile which is mounted onto a customer supplied flange, making the need to disassemble the propulsion shaft unnecessary. An integrated motor driven geared pinion (turning gear) engages with this disc to provide up to 140 kNm turning torque at 0.6 rpm in either direction.

Two direct, hydraulically applied, spring released calliper brakes acting on the disc provide 180 kNm braking torque and along with a manual locking device, can be used to hold the propulsion shaft.

In the icebreaker application, when the vessel comes into port and is stationary, the bridge control sends a command signal “brakes apply” to engage the brakes and hold the shaft. If maintenance is planned, a signal from the bridge “permit local control” is generated and, providing all the safety interlocks have been satisfied, the calliper brakes and turning gear can then be operated from the local control panel.

Once in this mode, brakes are released (brakes off) and the turning gear can be engaged with the gear teeth on the disc by using the manual clutch plus the hand wheel at the base of the gearbox to align the teeth. The propulsion shaft is then rotated in either direction using the controls on the local panel. When in position the calliper brakes are re-applied and the manual locking device used to securely hold the shaft. A series of limit switches and sensors fitted to the TLB are provided as part of the overall control system which can be monitored by the bridge.

In addition to providing a maintenance function, the TLB can be operated from the bridge to stop and lock the shaft using the calliper brakes when the vessel is moored in a flow stream or current. During lengthy stays in port the turning gear can be used in local control mode to occasionally rotate the shaft, keeping the propeller free from marine growth.