Magnetic Coupling

Quick connect magnetic coupling for offshore use

Pushboats often need to quickly connect to another vessel or steel structure.

Tow-botic Systems BV is developing underwater magnets for offshore use. Each specially designed permanent magnet is placed inside a watertight casing of 200mm diameter. The magnet has a holding capacity of 0.5 ton over a large airgap of 12mm (5mm excluding the casing and fenders) on a plate of 10-14mm thickness. The capability of holding over a large air gap allows the operator to manage hull fouling or plate curvature easily. Fenders take the initial impact when connecting, prevent paint damage, and minimize sliding. The permanent magnet is electrically “switched on/off” with a 24Vdc power supply, but no energy use when connected.

A single operator can quickly operate the magnetic coupling with a button. By directly attaching to the barge, better maneuverability is enabled. The gimbal arrangement allows for a change of trim, as well as turning a barge on a sharp bend by disconnecting one coupling. It can also be used to moor the boat when at the berth. The system can be easily integrated into autonomous operations.

The magnet improves the efficiency of offshore operations by reducing the time taken to connect and disconnect.


Provides the ability to quickly connect or disconnect to any steel structure, saving time and cost of operations
Capable of operating in underwater and harsh environments
Large holding capability with a small diameter magnet
Electrically actuated, so can be operated using the available battery pack onboard
Extremely low energy required for the permanent magnet, only necessary when connecting or disconnecting
A large airgap allows the operator to attach to plates with hull fouling or buckling
No paint damage as fenders provided to take the initial impact when connecting
Gimbal allows for change of trim and relative motion of the vessels
Ease of conversion to autonomous operations with this magnetic coupling
Pushboats with high engine power require multiple magnets, which should be considered only if multiple connect-disconnect operations are expected


Areas of Application Smaller pushboats | Boats that have to be quickly moored/unmoored|Smaller pushboats, mooring at berth, attach to any steel structure offshore
Automation In the future the system can be easily integrated into autonomous operations.
Flexibility Offshore use, in harsh marine environments, easy to install.
Material Each magnetic coupler has a pull off of 0.5T each, using a small specially designed permanent magnet.
Power The coupler does not require any energy when connected, only a very small amount of energy during connect and disconnect by an electric actuator.
Sizes Diameter 170mm to work accross a large air gap of 12 mm.
Relative business impact
CO2 footprint reduction:
Cost reduction:
Safety improvement:
Technology Maturity Level
Development Technology demonstration Mature / Proven

About Tow-Botic Systems

Tow-Botic Systems is focused on improving the manoeuvring safety for the Ship Captains and Pilots, and will build the next generation harbour towage eliminating the towrope. Founder Gary Vaz was a Ship Captain who conceptualized the idea after his ship allided with the wharf due to the slow response of the tugboats using towropes. We are looking for interested partners and investors who also believe that we need to have direct and better control of ships in port.

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