ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won the prestigious “red dot award” 2013 for product design in recognition of its innovative Azimuth lever that steers giant ships with decimeter accuracy.

The Azimuth lever is so precise that it can turn huge vessels, such as the world’s largest cruise ship “Allure of the Seas” (360 meters long and more than 200,000 tons, gross registered tonnage), a full 360 degrees on their own axis. This technology will be an important feature of the steering equipment in future cruise vessels. The device is the key part used in Azipod-powered ships to control propulsion speed and steering angle and forms part of the ABB Intelligent Maneuvering Interface system. Propeller speed is controlled by moving the horizontal axis of the lever, while the steering angle is controlled by rotating the lever around its vertical axis.

One of the features of the latest Azimuth lever is the use of programmable detents – or “feeling” points – in the lever. The shape of the Azimuth lever is designed to fit easily into the palm of the hand and the lever direction can be determined by its shape, providing tactile feedback. The award-winning design also features scale lamps that can be adjusted to maximize visibility at night or in bright sunshine.

“The new lever design was conceived to improve both usability and ergonomics and thereby enhance safety levels,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division. “Winning the red dot award means a great deal to us and shows that we met our goal to create a distinctive, clear and simple human-machine navigational interface that offers precise and predictable control for different vessel types.”

An international panel of 37 experts assessed products submitted by more than 1,800 manufacturers, designers and architects from 54 countries, evaluating the degree of innovation, functionality, quality, ergonomics, durability and ecological compatibility. The product design competition has existed since 1955. Its award is an internationally recognized quality seal.

Source: ABB