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Shipbuilders face tougher design requirements and smaller orderbook

The shipbuilding market will need to meet the challenges of decarbonising shipping and undergo its own digital evolution while facing a reduced orderbook, according to an expert panel.

Speaking at the Shipbuilding Market Outlook session at the Sea Asia Virtual Preview, Gu Hai, vice president, Singapore Innovation and Research Center, ABS said that when the pandemic hit, the orderbook for newbuild vessels over 2,000 dwt was at a 30-year low.

The orderbook at the start of 2021 stood at 8% of the world fleet in gross tonnage terms, down from 52% at its peak in 2008. Over the same period, the number of active yards fell from 930 to 391.

“We had a good start this year with 169 new orders by the end of March, and a Clarksons projection of about 1,100 new orders this year. There’s some good news,” said Gu. Tightening regulation such as EEXI and CII create replacement pressure on the fleet which will support the orderbook in the longer term, he added.

Despite this pressure, even the most optimistic of three scenarios for shipbuilding in 2021 laid out by Clarksons all fall below the 20-year average.

Hayato Suga, corporate officer, Director of Plan Approval and Technical Solutions Division, ClassNK said that IMO targets of a 40% improvement in transport efficiency by 2030, a 70% improvement by 2050 and zero total GHG emissions by the end of the century were the goals that the entire maritime industry had to bear in mind.

Li Xin, vice director of Innovation Center, Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute (SDARI), a member of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) said that lower speed navigation was the first tool shipping had in combatting carbon emissions.

Advanced CFD analysis, Improved hull coatings, air lubrication systems, wind assistance and highly efficient machinery were all technologies available to the industry today said Li, with alternative fuel solutions coming down the line.

Further improvements to efficiency can be gained from smart ships and enabling smart decision making for operations. To make the most of this, data barriers onboard ships and between ship and shore need to be broken down to make the most of operational data and opportunities for automation, all while maintaining security, said Li.

Gu said that digitalisation also had its role to play in the shipbuilding sector; moving from a document-based approach to shipbuilding and operation to a model-based approach would improve efficiency and enable the development and deployment of more complex system, he said.

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