Charting your course to the digital ship of the future

Posted: December 14, 2021

The global marine industry has been sailing into strong headwinds for more than a decade. It's facing volatile global economic conditions, rapidly evolving environmental regulations, as well as piracy and its impact on crewing. However, over the last eighteen months, the glut in the global shipping and supply chain has changed the marine industry’s course, which has led us to a shipper and shipbuilder’s boom. Today, freight rates and new orders are at an all-time high and shipbuilders are seeking new ways to keep up with demand.

To meet these demands, shipyards are innovating and digitalizing their operations to quickly deliver world-class vessels. Shipowners, on the other hand, are trying to improve the efficiency of their operations while reducing their environmental impact. The marine industry as a whole, though, agrees: whether you’re a shipbuilder or shipowner, your next big voyage is likely to be digital. Intelligent technology will help connect people, data, and processes to help shipbuilders and ships at sea gain real-time, actionable insights to improve performance throughout a vessel's lifespan.

The beginnings of the digital marine industry are already here. Ship and shipyard owners are investing in digital twin technology that will inform every critical decision they make and connect the dots between each phase of ship design, engineering, and operations.

ship building

The connected ship and shipyard of the future are nearly here. Are you ready?

View our marine industry infographic to learn more how your shipbuilding strategy can meet the needs of the future with innovation, flexibility, and resilience.

So, what does the shipyard of the future look like?

While shipbuilders already have digital processes and data capture systems in place, they are often siloed within specific disciplines and phases of the build process, and the data these processes generate is commonly stored across disparate systems. In between each phase of the design process, shipbuilders often find that some data has been lost, left incomplete, or made difficult to verify. Without a digital twin strategy in place to automatically verify and store data in a central location, engineers commonly waste up to 50% of their time searching for and verifying information—that's time they could otherwise spend innovating new solutions for a more profitable and sustainable future.

A data-centric engineering strategy doesn’t just collate and verify project data; it orients people and processes around a single hub of information hosted in the cloud. Once data is contextualized and centralized, engineering tools enable shipbuilders to generate sophisticated data models. With those data models in hand, engineers can use digital twins to optimize connectivity throughout the organization for more intelligently connected workflows, people, and decision-making.

Connected workflow:  A unified shipbuilding approach brings integrated engineering and design together with integrated project execution, allowing shipbuilders to plan and execute their work in a single platform and then record statuses from the shop floor for quality and progress feedback. This effectively bridges the gap between planning, design, material management, and production and forms a foundation for further digital transformation and process optimization.

Connected workers: Giving teams easy access to the data they need, and in the format that they need it in, ensures that team members of every discipline are empowered to work together and deliver projects on time and at budget. A central hub of information means that location is no longer a barrier to collaboration. One remote team can see what another team is doing and both can use visualization tools to better understand how any changes they make might impact different phases of the design process. And they can do all of this without ever leaving the design office. OEMs and subcontractors, working from different devices and different applications, can keep perfectly in step with one another because they are all drawing from one shared hub of data.

Connected decision-making: When all your teams are connected to a single trusted source of data, they can make better decisions and they can make those decisions faster. This connectivity empowers shipbuilders to start exploring new opportunities for innovation, like streamlined workflows for optimized efficiency, modular ships for reduced construction time, or new design iterations for maximized sustainability in ship operations.

With improved decision-making, shipbuilders can reduce project risk while saving time and costs in the build phase and they can achieve greater efficiency in operations as well. When shipowners require modifications, the digital twin is ready with all the critical information required to ensure faster, more efficient work.

Performance Intelligence on shipyards: The operational technology of shipyards today is as fragmented and siloed as the IT technology of yesterday. Each major provider of operational automation delivers their own control and SCADA systems. An enterprise-wide operations data management system bridges the gap between OEMs, putting you back in control of your data. Once your data is freed from its silos, you can use advanced digital tools to visualize and then analyze that data to rapidly optimize power consumption, quality, and throughput.

Ultimately, shipyards can use all their operations data—from the design office and the shop floor to the fleet at sea—to further improve designs, manufacturing processes, and product quality. Industrial data management platforms, like the PI System, are designed for enterprise deployments and to help owners manage large fleets of maritime assets, ports, and transportation infrastructures. A sophisticated data management strategy is the first step toward building a more automated, more resilient business model.

Performance Intelligence for shipowners: Performance Intelligence also offers shipowners a clear path to digital transformation. You can free your data from siloed OEM systems and establish more intelligent fleet-wide monitoring programs.

The PI System supports a variety of ship-to-shore architectures, from simple data collectors to fully autonomous onboard server installations. Cloud and edge computing allows you to place your data at the core of onshore and onboard value-added services to make the most of your investments.

Minimized emissions: Combining the power of the digital twin with artificial intelligence and predictive analytics enables shipowners to simulate their emissions and fuel usage. And, with regulations like IMO 2030 and 2050 on the horizon, embarking on your digital journey today is the best way to avoid costly surprises down the line.

Digital technology designed specifically for the maritime industry is giving shipbuilders and shipowners end-to-end actionable insights by collating trusted data in a single hub in the cloud. This means they can make the best decisions faster, optimize performance, and become more agile, giving them the competitive edge they need in an industry where change is the only course to future success.

Learn more about how AVEVA’s cloud-enabled engineering, execution, simulation, and information management solutions are helping create the ship and shipyard of the future.

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