Wärtsilä’s R&D operations - strengthening the technology leadership position


The focus of our R&D activities is on digitalisation, smart technologies, and on new products and solutions that are flexible, efficient, reliable, safe, and cost-efficient to operate. It is also essential that they impose a minimal environmental impact throughout their lifecycles. A substantial proportion of the investments we make in product development is targeted at securing environmental compliancy, providing short- and long-term benefits for our customers, and enabling sustainable societies.

By concentrating on the initial stages of the development process, and by utilising modularity, simulation, virtual testing, and validation, we shorten lead times for new solutions, thereby securing reliability and safety aspects without compromising quality. Validation testing on site with existing installations, in co-operation with the customer, is an important element in furthering the improved performance of existing solutions. It also assists in finding new and better solutions while, at the same time, gaining long-term experience under actual field conditions. A field installation also provides an opportunity to gain valuable learning and insight regarding new technologies and solutions. Only after the product has successfully passed all the validation process steps, both in the laboratory and in the field, and its performance meets Wärtsilä's high standards, can it be delivered to the market.

Through close attention to Intellectual Asset Management, and the continuous development of internal key competences, we strive to protect our innovation and competitiveness. Networks and clusters are formed to further extend our know-how, skills, and capabilities by committing to long-term relationships with suppliers, engineering companies, university partners, and with other Original Equipment Manufacturers.

Increased agility through Open Innovation

Forming meaningful connections with a wide range of stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, partners, government, academia and start-ups, are the foundation for our Open Innovation activities. By co-creating and collaborating with our ecosystem, we are able to significantly decrease the span of time from innovation to market, and to respond faster to new market needs with the development of holistic solutions. This is amplified by co-creation activities with customers to ensure that all new products and solutions create maximum value, from the assembly line through to the full asset lifecycle.

The Open Innovation approach is promoted through our increased presence in start-up activities globally. We regularly participate in a variety of start-up accelerators and have invited start-up companies to co-create, rapidly prototype, and validate new products and solutions. By working together with start-ups in Wärtsilä’s R&D centres, quick insights into the potential customer values are able to be identified. This collaboration also furthers our efforts towards more agile ways of working.


The HERCULES programme and sustainable innovation through partnerships

Wärtsilä was involved in the long-term HERCULES R&D programme, which was conceived in 2002 and concluded in 2018. It was set up within the context of the EU's sixth and seventh Framework programmes. Sharing a joint vision, the major low- and medium-speed engine manufacturers, Wärtsilä, Winterthur Gas & Diesel, and MAN Diesel & Turbo, collaborated with universities, research institutions, and other industrial partners to increase engine reliability and efficiency, while striving to reduce harmful emissions. The programme had a combined budget of over EUR 100 million.

The HERCULES project included the HERCULES A, B and C projects, as well as the fourth phase, the HERCULES-2 project, that was kicked off in 2015. HERCULES-2 focused on the integration of technologies developed in the earlier projects. Many of these technologies have found their way into Wärtsilä products such as the Wärtsilä 31.

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