Success Stories - Dominis Engineering Ltd.

The Company

Established in 1985 by an experienced father-son engineering team, Dominis Engineering Ltd. (Dominis) specializes in the design, machining and measurement of high precision marine propellers, water jet impellers and hydro turbine runners. The privately held Ottawa, Ontario based company operates out of a 9000 ft2 facility employing 14 technical, sales and administrative personnel. The company is R&D focused and considered a leader in its field. They are involved in the development of state-of-the-art technology for computer numerical controlled (CNC) milling of large complex sculptured surfaces to final form/finish that eliminates the need for hand finishing during the manufacturing process.

Dominis has developed a Canadian and American client base that includes the Canadian Navy, Canadian Coast Guard and United States Coast Guard as well as other private sector defense customers such as MDA, Bombardier, Wärtsilä-Defence, Rolls-Royce Marine North America and Alstom. They continue to pursue new opportunities for expansion in North America and internationally, particularly in the area of luxury yachts, commercial ships and submarines.

The Project

The SADI Manufacture of Naval Propulsion Impellers and High Skew Monoblock Propellers project was a three-year (2013 to 2016) $544,000 initiative that supported R&D activities with the primary objective of improving manufacturing methods, more specifically the machining of propellers and impellers. Large marine propellers (up to 2 metres) for high speed naval vessels are cast with various alloys that require extreme precision to meet detailed contractor specifications. The aim of the project was to investigate various machining factors (such as cutting tool geometry, cutting speed and feed, rigidity of tools, tool life etc.) and their possible interconnections in order to optimize machining processes.

Results

This project has met, and in many ways exceeded, the requirements for success as defined by the SADI program in the areas of innovation, competitiveness and collaborative partnerships. Dominis has successfully integrated the various R&D work packages to launch an innovative manufacturing process on to their production floor which integrates advances in five-axis machining of large diameter impellers/propellers (up to two metres in diameter) with leading edge CNC machining techniques to meet the demanding specifications of international propeller/impeller standards.

Impellers and monoblock propellers are strategically important components for any high-value shipping fleet or marine vessel and we are proud, with the support of SADI, to have developed leading-edge manufacturing capabilities which are internationally competitive and contribute to a superior final product.

Bodo Gospodnetic, President, Dominis Engineering Ltd

This new approach offers significant advantages as it calls for machining from original rough form to final product and finish in one tool set-up. In addition, the process completely eliminates manual grinding and hand finishing which is often the source of variability and inconsistences in finished products.

As a result of the SADI project, numerous competitive advantages have been achieved through both the superior technical features of the impellers/propellers (improved accuracy, more consistent quality over those finished with traditional hand grinding resulting in smoother operations and improved vessel speed), as well as enhanced productivity and lower operating cost for Dominis.

Monoblock propeller to be installed on Fast Missile Craft

Monoblock propeller to be installed on Fast Missile Craft

These advances have allowed Dominis to be competitive in a highly specialized market by offering improved precision, shorter delivery times and competitive pricing and as such, commercial success has followed. To date Dominis is a key supplier for all water jet impellers for the Littoral Combat ships currently being built by Lockheed Martin for the US Navy. Dominis has also become a favoured supplier for both Rolls Royce Marine North America and Wärtsilä-Defence, the two main propeller equipment suppliers to the US Navy.

Overall, company sales have increased in excess of 60 percent over the three-year period of 2012 to 2015 with future opportunities to transfer its technology beyond the navy and coast guard fleets to commercial shipping, luxury yachts/cruise ships (where the demand for quieter/smoother operations is ever present), submarines and hydro-electric turbines.

All of this has been achieved while collaborating with new suppliers, mentoring junior engineering talent and ultimately increasing the company’s own internal skills and capabilities through the hire of two engineers with expertise in mechanical design and naval architecture.

Dominis has also identified other broader benefits that could result from the SADI project including improved energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. The precision of Dominis propellers/impellers provides optimal performance and durability with minimal vibrations and noise. As such, reduced drag results in less fuel consumption thus providing environmental benefits. Dominis propellers/impellers systems also require less time and energy to both produce and operate. This results in reduced manufacturing and operating costs and ultimately provides both energy and cost savings to its customers. In addition, Dominis’ propellers/impellers provide improved vessel handling and system reliability due to their precision and lack of vibration which translates into safer and smoother operations for crew and passengers.

In Summary

The SADI project work has allowed Dominis to develop custom machining techniques to convert complex specifications unique to marine propeller/impeller components into data compatible with modern CNC software. This has enabled Dominis to present solutions to difficult machining problems while achieving great operating efficiencies and delivering a superior product. Dominis’ business model is based on R&D and the SADI project has been the catalyst to allow the small company, which is unique in its field within Canada, to successfully bid for large propeller/impeller machining contracts with navy and coast guard fleets. Dominis is also working to attract new customers while at the same time pursue expanded market opportunities which bodes well for the future growth of the company.

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