A new type of masterpiece has been designed in Finland – an environmentally friendly boat that runs completely on electricity. Extensive cooperation is behind the product development of the boat. Especially four companies stand out in its story – Q Yachts, Oceanvolt, Aivan and Navia Design. The boats marketed under the Q Yachts brand are hand-made in Finland. SOLIDWORKS software, acquired from PLM Group, is used daily to help with the product development process.
Everything started with the motor – Janne Kjellman established a company called Oceanvolt and envisioned a silent, fully electric motor. He is currently serving as the Head Designer at Oceanvolt. “The foundation of Oceanvolt is being environmentally friendly. In addition, we want to offer our customers a comprehensive boating experience where it would be as quiet as possible while underway and customers could enjoy all aspects of boating. Sailors feel the dullest part of boating is when starting the diesel motor when approaching the dock. With our motors, this is not necessary. I have worn practically every hat at Oceanvolt and now I carry overall responsibility for the direction our technology is heading in the future. In addition, I serve an information source for entire technical and pre-sales departments. For the entire history of the company, we have delivered electric propulsion solutions for yachts. Currently, nearly all of our products are exported”, he says.
Oceanvolt adopted SOLIDWORKS from the very first day and the software was delivered by PLM Group. “We had an external designer, who used the software. This likely contributed to choosing the software. I have a long background in IT and I had used the software a lot. Of all of the design software, SOLIDWORKS has been the most advanced with the most intuitive user interface. I still use the software in my daily work and it has been a preferred tool to work with. In addition, we use SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic here at Oceanvolt in order to create electrical drawings for the boats”, Janne continues.
A boat around the electric motor
Oceanvolt first only made motors for sail boats, but interest was also expressed in motor boats. When a suitable partner for the motor boat business was not identified, Janne Kjellman established Q Yachts Ltd in 2015 – the company designs and manufactures motor-powered electric luxury boats. Next, a partner was needed for designing the boat, in order to realise the detailed vision. Navia Design, a design and innovation company that operates as an Aivan Ltd subsidiary, was selected as the partner. “The cooperation between Aivan and especially Navia already began at Oceanvolt already during the second version of the motor, i.e. long before Q Yachts even existed. We needed a designer, so that the motor would not look like it was designed exclusively by engineers”, says Janne.
Designer at Aivan and shareholder, Antti Mäkelä, continues: “Aivan is exceptional, as although our core competence is industrial design, we also help our clients in other projects. These include branding and digitisation, for example. We design the products from start to finish and engage in a lot of cooperation with other actors. Aivan has worked on the design of several different types of end products and boat design has been an important area for the company from the start. At Aivan, we considered if it was feasible that the same company designs, for example, identities, packaging, homeware and boats – and came to the conclusion that it was not. Therefore, we established Navia Design Ltd as a subsidiary. The company focuses exclusively on boats, which allows us to communicate our top expertise in the area of boat design.”
Antti continues: “The boat project completed with Q Yachts is completely different from other projects as a product was built around the electric propulsion system. Similar projects are usually implemented a bit differently. Many electric boats have been implemented without a similar comprehensive approach and an electric motor is simply added to a traditional boat designed for a combustion motor. In this case, we had Oceanvolt’s technology and together we built the product around it, the boat. The project was different and interesting to us and it required the optimisation of many different things, such as the length of the boat, the hull shape and how it moves in the water. Of course, we have made sail boats and fast motor boats before, but this boat is completely in its own category. We got to spend a lot of time researching and testing in this project, so this has been an excellent learning experience from a project perspective.”
SOLIDWORKS makes cooperation easier and enhances innovation
The shared values of all of the actors participating in the design of the boat are sustainable development and being environmentally friendly. In addition, everyone uses the same software as the main design tool. This makes practical cooperation easier. Sharing the drawings and other design information is relatively effortless. In addition, designers are practically free to innovate exactly the types of products they want, as the software adapts to the personal requirements of the design work. “Cooperation is effective when everyone has the same visions and software. The greatest challenge with boat design is time. We are able to simultaneously make changes to the same entities where one is designing the throttle lever while another is designing the fridge, for example. In addition, we are able to work on the design to a higher degree of completion before starting practical implementation. Our cooperation with Navia Design is still on-going. To date, Navia Design has drawn the control equipment and the entire boat for Q Yachts”, Janne continues.
SOLIDWORKS is seen as highly beneficial software also at Navia Design. “The way of doing things at Oceanvolt and Q Yachts is very modern, which goes well with the thinking in our companies. For example, we want to create uncompromising quality. Therefore, we believe it is acceptable that the high quality is evident in the time spent working on the design. From start to finish, SOLIDWORKS supports our working method. We cooperate with other suppliers in nearly all of our projects and we wish to implement the design work using SOLIDWORKS. This wish is also shared by the customers”, says Antti.
Janne adds: “SOLIDWORKS is a tool that has been used to model the entire boat before a single piece of it has been made in practise. We don’t know what other software would allow us to do the same, as using SOLIDWORKS is very natural to us. The software is especially good with products that have a lot of demanding shapes – boats are a good example of this. At Oceanvolt, we produce a lot of mechanical elements, whether it be the throttle lever, motor or transmission. There is also something about SOLIDWORKS that we appreciate greatly despite it being rather obvious; its visual nature. In practice, the entire boat has been modelled before we have a single physical piece in hand. Using the software is very smooth and the user experience is intuitive. And of course a good thing about a popular software is the availability of support. If you are not able to do something, you will likely find a video on-line on the topic.”
A better and more sustainable future
Oceanvolt, Q Yachts, Aivan and Navia Design are satisfied with the SOLIDWORKS solutions acquired from PLM Group and they plan to continue using them in the future. The software supports the vision of all four companies on sustainable development and it allows them to help build a more environmentally friendly world.
“Our mission is to advance boating into a world of environmentally friendly values – the trend with boating is to offer larger motors and more power, but this is not good for the environment and we are trying to change this trend. Electric cars have already done a lot of the work for us. Electric motors have been introduced to consumers and as they drive their electric cars to the shore, they are also considering if an electric motor would also be possible in their boats. However, there are a lot of differences between electric cars and boats and the same technology cannot be used in both. For example, acceleration consumes energy with electric cars, but maintaining a steady speed does not. With boating, this market is only now emerging and the development has been a lot slower than one would have ever thought. There is still a lot of potential in the market especially abroad and it is a growing wave. We intend to ride that wave”, concludes Janne.
Boat pictures: Lauri Rotko