Thursday, 20 February 2014

Marine Industry- How INNOVATIVE?

What do you think is the biggest difference between the ship building or design industry and any other industry in the world? Size- that's what your answer would be. Correct it is! A ship is indeed the largest man made self propelled structure ever constructed by the human civilization. Let alone size, you see there is another departure from the kind of practices this industry indulges in, which sets it aside from all the others. Innovation. To be more specific, it would be better to put it this way that the rate of innovation required for this discipline to keep facing challenges is way higher than what is required in the aviation or let's say, the electronic and IT industries. 

The score of questions in your mind now are to be answered by this example. Think about how design and production goes on in a laptop production company. Once the design for a laptop is laid out and approved, it is finalized that a certain number of products pertaining to that design would be produced in bulk. In case of the automobile industry, it goes the same way. Yes, modified versions are designed based on neccesities of innovation and renovation, both. But it is certain that a successfull design in every industry would correspond to a bulk of products. Well, that doesnot work in the shipping industry. Here, every ship sailing at the sea has an unique design of its own. When a ship is ordered by an owner, the ship is not produced from an existing design of an already sailing vessel. That is simply not done. The reason is really simple. Every ship in this world is designed specially for its type of cargo, the sea routes it is supposed to follow, the sea states it is likely to encounter, the time for which the ship can sail continuously without docking, and the list is longer. This gives rise to a requirement for extensive modification and renewal in design of every new ship that is being built. 

So innovation in this industry is the key to its survival against the challenges of nature. Every ship sailing at the seas not only has something new in its design but also lack certain design aspects which are taken care of while designing a new ship. It is a constant innovation and feedback based improvement process. If an owner places an order for three ships of the same kind, you are wrong if you presume all three would have the same design. Well, then what is it? The layout below depicts how, the feedbacks from the operational results of the first model would be used as basis for innovative steps in the devolopment of the second model. Note the overlap in the time spans for production of each model helps in keeping up the neccesary innovations for the upcoming model.

Design and Production Layout in Shipbuilding Industry

It means, the shipbuilding industry is constantly in the verge of changes, powered by rigorous research and devolopments that are carried out by various Research organizations and Companies all over the globe. The ethics and needs of this discipline subject proffesionals like naval architects, ocean engineers and hydrodynamists to challenges forever. Ship Design and Construction has changed since the first ship set sail and with the magnitude of research and technical devolopments practiced in this field, the tendency of constant changes is probably never ending. LSD

Article By: Soumya Chakraborty

Author's Note: This article has been written on the basis of analyses made on the trends of the ship design and ship building industries. LearnShipDesign is coming up with many more articles pertaining to every aspect related to maritime technology and the industry. I encourage you to read them and most importantly, share them with students and budding engineers. In case of any queries or feedbacks write to

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