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October 24, 2019

[INTERVIEW] Once labor-intensive, shipbuilders in race for digital transformation

PUBLISHED : September 19, 2019 - 16:14

UPDATED : September 19, 2019 - 20:00

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SINGAPORE -- Traditional methods used to maintain cost efficiency in the labor-intensive field of shipbuilding and marine engineering will give way more and more to digital solutions that are already quietly permeating the industry, Craig Hayman, CEO of UK industrial software developer Aveva, said in a recent interview with The Investor.

“Firms constructing vessels are now focused on reducing the labor (costs) associated with the construction and the number of hours put into designing them,” Hayman said on Sept. 18, adding that South Korean shipbuilders are no exception.

But this represents only a small fraction of the total cost, given the full cycle of the shipbuilding process from design to engineering, construction and maintenance, even after the vessel sets sail, he added.

Aveva CEO Craig Hayman during an interview with The Investor
Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor

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The global shipbuilding and power plant construction industry -- led by Korea, China and Japan in terms of revenue -- is now engaged in a race to mount the shipbuilding process on digital software to improve accuracy, reduce complexity and save costs, according to Hayman.

“Traditionally, shipbuilders and construction firms used to be focused purely on the construction of large capital equipment, but they are now shifting towards a handover from the EPC to the operator of the equipment, and increasingly, they are focused on the efficient operation of that equipment after it is left of port or it is put into operation.”

Hayman was named head of Aveva in February 2018. Since then, he has played the role of digital transformation evangelist in the face of Aveva’s anticipated launch of an integrated software solution EPC 4.0 -- covering the whole cycle -- as announced during Aveva World Summit 2019 from Sept. 17-18 in Singapore.

Calling the new integrated software a “competitive differentiator,” Hayman said the software-powered shipbuilding process would allow shipbuilders to address changes free of glitches and at a lower cost.

For example, starting in 2020, vessels will be obliged to reduce the amount of sulfur they emit by burning “low-quality” oil fuels, under a new initiative by the International Maritime Organization. This regulation poses a design challenge to shipbuilders, as they have to retrofit vessels to support the use of higher-quality fuels.

This is one of the scenarios where integrated software can come into play for shipbuilders in Korea. “The cost of vessel is not just about the construction cost,” Hayman said.

“There is a construction. There is a material management within the shipyard. There is the handover of the project to the operator of the vessel, and ensuring that it can operate as designed.”

Aveva’s software integration came to the fore following its merger with Schneider Electric’s industrial software operation in March 2018, a month after Hayman was picked to lead the firm.

Korea is home to Aveva’s client base, comprising 64 marine engineering firms including Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries, as well as 84 plant operators, 40 oil and gas companies, and 19 academic institutions including universities.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)

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