Advancement in technology is key to the development of any industry. The shipbuilding industry is no exception. In fact, shipbuilding is changing at a rapid rate taking advantage of highly advanced technologies which aim to solve the issues such as environmental pollution, rising fuel costs etc.
Riding high on R&D activities, the shipping industry has developed some potentially revolutionary technologies. Mentioned below are seven important technologies which might help to change the future of shipbuilding.
3-D Printing Technology: 3D printing technology makes it possible to construct real objects from virtual 3-D objects. This process is carried out by cutting virtual object in 2-D slices and printing the real one slice by slice. There have been several 3-D printing processes invented till date but very few are commercially affordable and sustainable. Currently, this technology is being used in industries to produce scientific equipment, small structures and models for various applications.
Recently, NSWC Carderock made a fabricated model of the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) using its 3-D printer, first uploading CAD drawings of ship model in it. Further developments in this process can lead the industry to use this technique to build complex geometries of ship like bulbous bow easily. The prospect of using 3-D printers to seek quick replacement of ship’s part for repairing purpose is also being investigated. The Economist claims use this technology to be the “Third Industrial Revolution“.
Shipbuilding Robotics: Recent trends suggest that the shipbuilding industry is recognizing robotics as a driver of efficiency along with a method to prevent workers from doing dangerous tasks such as welding. The shortage of skilled labour is also one of the reasons to look upon robotics. Robots can carry out welding, blasting, painting, heavy lifting and other tasks in shipyards.
Geoje shipyard in South Korea which boasts of launching around 30 ships a year, 68% of its production processes is carried out by robotic systems which contributed to achieve it such a high production rate.
Solar & Wind Powered Ships: Imagine the situation when we will have finished all our reservoir of oil and gas; really horrible! Sailing ships, once used in past, are definitely not going to return but shipbuilding industry is trying hard to develop technologies to utilise renewable sources of energy (i.e, wind & sun) to run the ships considering today’s challenges.
The world’s largest solar powered ship named ‘Turanor’ is a 100 metric ton catamaran which motored around the world without using any fuel and is currently being used as a research vessel. Though exclusive solar or wind powered ships look commercially and practically not viable today, they can’t be ruled out of future use with more technical advancements.
Building ships is a complex engineering process. The reason behind it is that the process of shipbuilding is a conglomeration of inputs by professionals spanning a wide range of specialization.
However over the years, with the onset of technological era, research in this sector has led to the development of procedural aids that have brought about a lot of technical and managerial clarity in the process of design, design approval, and construction of ships. This has helped to design, plan and build many noteworthy ships. But the key to proper utilisation of these technological resources, is adequacy in quantity and quality of skilled manpower.
SSC passed with min. GPA-2.00