The Korea Herald


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

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : Sept. 19, 2019 - 16:20

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SINGAPORE -- Traditional methods for cost efficiency in the labor-intensive field of shipbuilding and marine engineering will give way 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.

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

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

The global shipbuilding and power plant construction industry -- led by Korea, China and Japan in terms of revenue -- is now racing to adapt 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 toward a handover from the EPC to the operator of the equipment, and increasingly, they are focused on the efficient operation of that equipment a ship after it has left the port or is put into operation.”

Aveva CEO Craig Hayman during an interview with The Investor Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor Aveva CEO Craig Hayman during an interview with The Investor Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor
Hayman was named head of Aveva in February 2018. Since then, he has played the role of digital transformation evangelist in the face of the 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-powers shipbuilding process and allows 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 vessels is not just about the construction cost,” Hayman said.

“There is a construction. There is a material management within the shipyard and the handover of the project to the operator of the vessel, 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