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Industry 4.0 technologies for Smart and digital Commercial and Naval Shipyards

This form of  manufacturing, called Industry 4.0 is a collection of technologies and concepts for defining and operating ‘Smart Factories’, where the machinery of manufacturing – machine tools, the sensors monitoring them and such like – can communicate with each other, with the systems overseeing the factory and the people who work in it to fine-tune the manufacturing process and enable such things as product customisation, while increasing productivity and flexibility. These intelligent and connected machines don’t only work; they take decisions and optimize processes intelligently and semi-autonomously.


Technology has always been the underlying factor behind previous industrial revolutions. Similarly, technology still remain as a critical factor for Industry 4.0 emerging technologies such as cloud computing, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and IoT are forming an  interconnected industrial landscape where physical assets and equipment are integrated with systems to enable contents and dynamic exchange and data analysis. For companies to achieve their Industry 4.0 objectives, automation, ubiquitous connectivity and intelligent systems are necessary. The advent of low power processors, disruptive capabilities of the IoT, intelligent wireless networks and low power sensors, when combined with ‘Big Data’ analytics, has led to a booming interest in the Industrial IoT.


Shipbuilding is a complex business. It involves highly specialized systems that must be inspected and maintained before, during and after delivery, and all too often there are time-consuming, manual tasks that introduce errors, safety risks and inefficiencies. Now shipyards are also being transformed using Industry 4.0 technologies into smart and digital shipyards. Industry Leaders now realize that to become more competitive and improve profitability – cutting down time and cost to market – they must transform the way their organizations operate, unlocking new efficiencies by working smarter and faster without sacrificing quality. A digital shipyard could change all that, ultimately improving the quality, safety and delivery times — and even the overall performance — of a ship.


In a time of fierce competition and growing uncertainty for shipbuilding worldwide, with an evolving market demand and shipyards struggling to meet pressure for lower cost of ownership, the industry needs to rapidly change the way it operates.The Coronavirus or Covid-19 degraded military capability as being experienced by US Naval feet, of it’s 11 aircraft carriers the crew in three of the aircraft cariers are reported to have been affected. It has also affected Defense Production/manufacturing facilities and supply chains . Companies that are located in countries badly affected by the virus or those that are dependent on supply chains located in affected countries are the immediate victims of the pandemic. A case in point is Fincantieri of Italy, which has currently suspended its ship building operations until March 29, 2020. In short, it needs to fully embrace the competitive advantages of digital transformation if it is to survive.


Technologies for digital transformation

The true potential for not only naval but commercial vessels to be commissioned more rapidly, operate more reliably and cost less over their lifecycle will depend on shipbuilders’ ability to drive digital technologies into multiple areas of their operations.



Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0

Digital shipyards utilise the Industry 4.0 capabilities of “Cyber-Physical Systems” (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT) to evolve shipyards for the modern era. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) harnesses the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance industry-specific tasks. In the case of digital shipyard, the majority of these tasks relate to manufacturing.


IoT is a term used to describe a collection of connected devices that can work in unison by communicating with each other to share and process information. For example, a weather sensor on your roof can detect a rapid drop in barometric pressure. It can then communicate that to your wrist watch which can in turn show you a message that the weather is about to change. IIoT can amplify that power by leveraging machine learning and big data technologies to utilise sensor data to expedite decision making.


The sensors and monitoring systems deployed by CPS can communicate enormous quantities of data to an IoT device, providing an enhanced capacity for predicting and planning future maintenance. This greatly reduces operational downtime. The collected data can be shared with other IoT devices in an industrial environment, collectively called the Industrial IoT, or IIoT. Having a connected shipyard can reduce maintenance costs through Predictive Maintenance, energy monitoring for improved efficiencies.


Powerful maritime enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can help achieve this, delivering improved operational control and enabling shipyards to create vessels that conform to environmental ship index (ESI) and smart port mandates. Shipbuilding ERP must prepare your organization for current market trends by helping you.


Digital Twins

Shipbuilding organisations have been using 3D modelling for a number of years bringing in the third dimension to existing 2D designs. Recent developments in 3D scanning technologies has also led to the creation of 3D models of already built platforms. Instead of retrospectively creating 3D designs from 2D versions, laser scanning can quickly build 3D models with minimal human intervention.


The concept of digital twin is to literally duplicate a physical twin digitally. For example, a physical diesel engine can have a digital twin in the form of a digital 3D model. The digital twin is able to simulate the physical dynamics and characteristics of its physical twin so that potential problems can be predicted and simulated in a safe environment before the engine is even built. Due to the sheer size of a ship, a digital twin can dramatically reduce the time and effort of its subsequent physical build. Problems that would traditionally be identified once the ship is being built can be identified digitally before even a single line of weld is laid. Potential design faults can be identified through digital simulation of the twin and removed prior to build.


Virtual design leverages virtual reality technology to provide an immersive design environment. Outputs from both 3D design and 3D scan can create a lifelike clone of a platform that an individual can step into and navigate around using a VR headset.


Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR), the industrial internet of things (IIoT) and other digital technologies can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a shipyard. A vast number of devices can leverage the power of AR. Headsets provide for a richer immersion experience and come with the benefit of being relatively hands-free. They are controlled with gestures, where you move and wave your hands to mimic physical actions such as clicking and swiping. Many headsets also can be controlled via eyes and voice.


AR headsets can be preloaded with drawings and even connect directly to PLM and other systems to bring up schematics, videos and other media on demand. The individual can then place a drawing in their virtual landscape which fixes it to their physical landscape without holding a thing. Maintenance activities can be significantly simplified by bringing up step by step routines in video to guide the technician. AR will dramatically simplify and speed up the build and maintenance phases of a ship’s lifecycle.


The entire concept of digital shipyard aims to address operational efficiency and effectivity, so things can get done safer, faster and smarter. HPC typically uses server-side computing resources instead of relying on laptops or desktops. HPC is particularly valuable when undergoing complex scenario simulation or powering high end graphic requirements often used in digital design and virtual reality. HPC is all about faster as it provides more computing power in order to get things done quicker. What you could do in a day on a desktop can be done in minutes through HPC. This has a dramatic impact on cost and schedule and therefore has an easy to define tangible benefit to shipyard operations during design, build and service.


There are many use cases for AI/ML in a shipbuilding environment. There is often a need to determine how equipment and machinery would best fit into a ship compartment. A “smart” application can be fed the parameters for that environment such as the compartment design, the materials used, cost constraints, manufacturing methods and other design goals. The application would then go away and run thousands of different scenarios to find the optimal layout based on those design goals.


Supply chain tower (SCT) is another emerging technology that has been made possible through artificial intelligence. SCT moves beyond traditional supply chain whereby an organisation has a list of known vendors and suppliers they deal with. SCT uses the power of cross network intelligence to help accelerate decision making, identify providers of quality services and parts and reduce cost. . For example, your SCT will work in the background after learning that you regularly purchase a specific part and find you other local vendors who are selling that part cheaper.


Robotic process automation (RPA) is essentially the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to processes. A software robot or ‘bot’ can interpret how a human interacts with a computer process which it can then understand, break down and repeat by itself.Robot process automation involves automating various business processes using AI workers or software robots. It is the application of technology that enables companies to manipulate computer software or robots to automate several business processes. They are designed to deliver direct profitability, perform repetitive tasks, and also communicate with other systems within the enterprise just like humans do. The rise in demand for sophisticated and time-saving solutions drives the market for robotic process automation in digital shipyards.


Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing

3D printing or additive manufacturing means that any object that can be digitally modelled in 3D can be uploaded and printed. It’s been possible for some time to print small parts in plastics, but recent technological advances are enabling larger printers to create much bigger components. Some of these new systems can also create parts out of metal, using a technique of high-velocity particle fusion.


Additive manufacturing is very useful in both the build and support phases of a ship’s lifecycle. Instead of having to order parts when they are damaged they can simply be printed in-situ reducing the turnaround time for the repair. Obviously, there are certain parts that would not be a candidate for additive manufacturing due to their size however complexity is rarely an issue for this technology. So long as a digital twin of the part is on hand, for example a CAD model, the part can be easily and quickly manufactured via this technology


This is an important development for the digital shipyard, because it means that parts can be printed on site, during the initial build or service phases. There’ll be no more waiting while replacements are ordered for damaged parts, thus considerably reducing repair times. Provided a digital twin such as a CAD model is available, any part can be quickly and easily produced.


Crucially, the industry needs to understand that digital transformation is not about making everything digital. Neither is it sufficient to add a new layer of digitization on top of legacy processes. Instead, it is about transforming the business from top to bottom leveraging the right technologies in order to align with strategic objectives. From the shipyard boardroom table to the shop floor. Coordinated transformation of the whole organizational ecosystem and business processes across the entire lifecycle is the way forward.


US Navy’s 20-year Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, or SIOP

The US Navy has taken several actions to improve its public shipyards in recent years. In 2018, the Navy began a 20-year, $21 billion effort to modernize and optimize its shipyards, known as the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP). SIOP, is renovating the yards in Kittery, Maine, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Portsmouth, Virginia, and Puget Sound, Washington.


The yards were originally designed to build and maintain conventionally powered aircraft carriers and submarines, and any upgrades they’ve received in the past have been done incrementally, said Rear Adm. John Korka, commander of Naval Facilities and Engineering Systems Command.


SIOP takes a more holistic approach to modernization, he said.

As part of that holistic approach, the Navy must embrace a new wave of technology emerging from the commercial sector, referred to as “industry 4.0,” said John Polowczyk, federal supply chain leader at Ernst & Young. He emphasized that the service’s yards must keep up with technologies and innovation from industry.


“Things like the internet of things, smart factories, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and a wide use of 5G — these new capabilities can deliver great productivity, data driven insights and potentially more optimal maintenance processes for the Navy,” Polowczyk said.


One effort the Navy has begun employing at its four public yards is a modeling-and-simulation technology known as digital twins, which digitally replicates an object, place or building. The technology allows the service to map out the industrial processes that take place in the environment, said Ian Boulton, senior director of federal, aerospace and defense/digital transformation at PTC, a software company. Boulton added that digital twins can allow shipyards to use the internet-of-things technology, mixed reality and spatial computing more widely.


Digital Shipyard Market

The global digital shipyard market size was USD 963.6 million in 2020. The market is projected to grow from USD 1,129.6 million in 2021 to USD 3,444.5 million in 2028 at a CAGR of 17.27% in the 2021-2028 period.


An increase in the adoption of disruptive technologies as well as the modernization & procurement plans of various commercial and defense shipyards are the major factors expected to drive the market in the coming years.


On the basis of shipyard type, the market is segregated into commercial and military. Based on shipyard type, the commercial segment is expected to witness the highest CAGR during the forecast period by 2030 due to increasing maritime trade, which has resulted in a rise in the demand for commercial ships and growth of the digital shipyard market. Navantia (Spain) partnered with Siemens (Germany) for digitalized shipbuilding solutions, which is a cloud-based platform that covers the whole lifecycle process of the vessel, from its initial conception and simulation until the final phase and maintenance phase of the ship.

In regards of the digitalization Level, the market is classified into semi-digital shipyard and fully-digital shipyard.

In terms of technology platform, the market is categorized into robotic process automation, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence and big data analytics, digital twin, blockchain, industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), and others. The robotic process automation segment is predicted to lead the market in 2020 owing to the surging demand for automation of numerous ship manufacturing methods such as welding, cutting, painting, and others.


Based on technology, the robotic process automation segment is projected to lead the digital shipyard market by 2030. Based on process, the manufacturing & planning segment is expected to witness higher growth in the digital shipyard market by 2030. Manufacturing & planning is an important phase and plays a vital role in the implementation of the concept of digital shipyard. The process involves the use of various intelligent technologies such as additive manufacturing, robotic process automation, cloud computing & master data management, and blockchain. The process segment is expected to hold a larger share compared to other segments in the digital shipyard market. The use of disruptive technologies in various processes of the shipyard industry has enabled these processes to be more aligned, interdependent, and of high value to achieve sustainable growth.


The global market is branched into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East & Africa, and South America.

The Asia Pacific is projected to be the largest regional digital shipyard market. The region has witnessed rapid economic development over the years, resulting in an increase in maritime trade. The  growth potential in the digital shipyard market due to the presence of emerging economies such as China and India, that are modernizing and procuring marine vessels for the upgradation of their shipyards and to establish a strong foothold in the marine sector. The demand for advancements in processes, quick delivery, reduced cost, high regulation standards, etc. is expected to grow more in the forecast period and is thus leading to the growth of the digital shipyard market in emerging economies such as India and China. Due to the increasing awareness of the significance of the intelligent technologies in the marine sector, demand for digital shipyards is expected to grow at a rapid pace during the forecast period, which offers potential for growth to digital technology providers and system integrators in this region.


The Asia Pacific region leverages the use of high-end technologies and solutions at leading shipyards such as China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (China), Hyundai Heavy Industries (South Korea), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan), and Cochin Shipyard (India), among others to achieve its goal of digital transformation at various levels of digitalization. Also, due to the increasing awareness of the significance of the upgradation and use of intelligent technologies in the marine sector, demand for digital shipyards is expected to grow at a rapid pace during the forecast period, which offers growth potential for digital technology providers and system integrators in this region.


Market leaders

Some of the top Companies in the Digital Shipyard Market are Siemens (Germany), Dassault Systemes (France), AVEVA Group Plc (UK), Accenture (Ireland), SAP (Germany), BAE Systems (UK), Hexagon (Sweden), Altair Engineering Inc. (US), Wartsila (Finland), Inmarsat Plc (UK), IFS AB (Sweden), Pemamek Ltd. (Finland), Aras (US), Kreyon Systems Pvt. Ltd. (India), SSI (Canada), Kuka AG (Germany), Ibaset (US), Prostep AG (Germany), Kranendonk Smart Robotics (Netherlands), and Damen Shipyards Group (Netherlands).


In February 2020, Bremen-based Fr. Lürssen shipyard, the Machine Tool Laboratory (WZL) at RWTH Aachen University, and PROSTEP AG launched the ProProS research project. The aim of the project is to set up a digital twin for manufacturing and assembly processes at shipyards and to use it for status control and optimization of shipbuilding production. In January 2020, Wartsila produced a carbon fiber lifting tool through additive manufacturing. This 3D printed tool will be used as a custom piece of hardware that allows cargo ships to move heavy engine parts.


In December 2019, European shipbuilder, Navantia, selected Siemens Digital Industries Software as its technological partner to digitalize the company’s shipbuilding process. In October 2019, Siemens Digital Industries Software announced the launch of its new Simcenter system simulation solutions, designed to help industries with accurate and competitive system modeling.

In November 2019, Wartsila and Singapore-based PSA Marine agreed to collaborate for the co-creation of smart technologies for the marine sector. The areas envisioned in the collaboration include the use of electric or hybrid technologies; the incorporation of next-generation smart vessel technologies; the adoption of secured connectivity to facilitate ship-to-shore data exchange; and marketing and branding activities.

In May 2019, SAP and Accenture entered into an agreement to co-innovate and co-develop a new SAP cloud utilities solution to help shipbuilding companies effectively manage business processes and customer experiences.
In December 2018, MV Werften Shipbuilding Company renewed its agreement with AVEVA Group Plc to continue to use its wide range of software solutions and technologies.



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