Shipbuilding is an area in which Italy has been a leading supplier for many years, with its global offering of highly technical solutions, continuous innovation and high quality, classy finishing. When we talk of shipbuilding, we naturally think of the only Italian company with the facilities, human resources and technical know-how to build large ships: Fincantieri. This company can boast of being the inheritor of the tradition of Italian shipbuilding: the production facilities, technical and design know-how of the oldest and most renowned Italian shipyards have all, over the years, combined to form Fincantieri. The company has a history of more than 200 years and an experience of the sector which has been kept up to date and refined by its extraordinary achievement of having built over 7000 ships of all types.
Fincantieri, founded in 1959 as the shipbuilding sector holding company of the IRI Group, was transformed into a manufacturer in 1984 by absorbing its major daughter companies, and relaunched under the new name of Fincantieri - Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA.
The history of Italian shipbuilding as incarnated by Fincantieri has been complex and unique, and the company, with its specialized workforce, is now dedicated to projecting this history into the future with new design and construction technologies.
Fincantieri is one of the largest and most diversified shipyards in the world, able to offer cutting edge technical solutions to any sea-going requirements. The company designs, constructs and sells ships of all types, merchant and military, including submarines, offshore platforms, and marine and terrestrial diesel engines, and is also active in the field of large scale refurbishments and naval repairs.
The company has three divisions (mercantile construction, military construction, and diesel engines) and boasts a naval architecture and engineering research centre, Cetena at Genoa, as well as a company specialized in diesel engine design, research and testing, Diesel Ricerche at Trieste.
Since 1998, Vimar has been the prime supplier of electrical equipment for the cruise ships equipped by Fincantieri, with its Idea and 8000 product series. The ships are divided into two main classes: fast ships able to cover over 1000 km a day, designed to reduced trip times, and giant cruise ships, the floating cities of the sea. In this article we take a look at the fast ship Rotterdam, and the great Grand Princess. The systems engineering problems are similar for both types of ship. Seen from the installer's point of view, the number of lighting points in a passenger ship of the size of a couple of apartment could be enormous, but all the electrical devices, in order to ensure comfort and to control the appliances installed in hundreds living quarters and service areas, are contructed to exploit the available space to the maximum.
The system terminal, in particular, must be resistant to the saline atmosphere and extremely reliable and safe: fire hazards are an ever constant worry on board ship, and although materials are chosen precisely with this in mind, the electrical system must be installed with very severe criteria and controls to ensure that such a complex and delicate machine works to perfection, while seeking to limit the problems experienced by the ship's electricians to the absolute minimum. The Idea product range was chosen for the Rotterdam class, a range which is being increasingly used in shipbuilding applications for its technical features and design, which fully satisfies the demanding style requirements of its international clientele.
The grey device in die-cast metal Classica cover plate is deemed to be the most suited to this type of installation with device combinations from 1 to 6 modules and of 2 reduced modules, which provide two functions with a footprint of only 80x80 mm, a solution which is highly suitable for restricted areas like ship's cabins.
The staff quarters and areas in larger ships like the Grand Princess use the 8000 series, which has the same functionality as Idea with maximum practicality and a reduced price. The weight of the lighting point is also a critical factor: its light weight avoids weighing down the ship, thus allowing the full thrust of the ship's engines to be exploited.
20,000 lighting points on the sea
The biggest ship is the Grand Princess, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records along with its sister ship, the Golden Princess.
Vimar products are used in all cabins in this recent project, but this is far from the end of the relationship between cruise ships and Vimar: a dozen ships (all large tonnage) being built or scheduled for construction over the next few years will use Vimar product range.
This relationship is very important for Vimar, especially because Fincantieri produces 46% of all cruise ships for the most prestigious and demanding cruise companies in the world.