The Men Who Work in Propellers


Caverion's operations are not confined by the borders of Europe: the service company's employees travel for work around the world. One job undertaken far from home is the electrical maintenance of the Azipod rudder propellers of giant cruise ships, a task completed together with ABB's project organisation.


The scheduled maintenances of cruise ships are done on shipyards and our technicians work long hours in crammed and hot environments inside the rudder propellers.

- The ships have a propeller system that functions as both the rudder and the propeller, and the system turns 360°. We do electrical dismantling and reinstallation in connection with bearing maintenance and seal renewals, technicians Pekka Järvinen and Jere Aaltonen explain.

Long, hot days spent inside a rudder propeller

The tight schedules of shipyards call for long working hours: the working day is 13 hours as a minimum, seven days a week. On many sites temperatures rise above 30 °C and the insides of the rudder propeller are not exempt from the heat.

- The space is so tight you can't really turn around in it. On average, one project takes two weeks, says Jere Aaltonen.

The work of technicians who travel around the world is challenging because of the tight schedules and the changing working conditions, but also because the electrical work done by Caverion employees is the final part of a docked ship's maintenance. All the technical installations must be finished on time and in one go.

The space inside the propeller is confined and the risk of falling is high

Safety at work is important especially when the working conditions are challenging: the space inside the rudder propeller is confined and the risk of falling is high. Technicians must carry an oxygen level meter at all times, there is always a door guard on duty, and the phone connection has to work. No one is allowed to work alone. All tools, including nuts and bolts, are documented and marked as returned. If anything falls into the propeller, it has to be found no matter how small it is.

Despite the tight schedules and the challenging tasks and working conditions, Pekka and Jere enjoy their work.

- This profession does have its challenges. We travel on average 60–80 days per year. It is not an ideal situation for someone with a family. On the other hand, we get to see amazing places around the world in locations we would otherwise probably never visit, says Pekka Järvinen.