Maritime in the New: digital promises pervasive end-to-end transformation for naval shipbuilders

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June 04, 2018
Maritime in the New: digital promises pervasive end-to-end transformation for naval shipbuilders
By: Adrian Spragg

The naval shipbuilding business is facing a wave of disruption. A vast array of issues, including rising programme costs, expanding international opportunities, and rising pressure from government customers seeking value for money are combining to put established business models and ways of operating under unprecedented strain.

To overcome these challenges, naval shipbuilders will have to address four key imperatives:

  1. Secure margin and accelerate time-to-market of complex shipbuilding programmes

  2. Drive down costs, lead time and quality issues in design, manufacturing and the supply chain

  3. Focus innovation on the creation of the connected ship and the connected fleet

  4. Develop new services to increase ship availability and effectiveness in operations.

Industry X.0 comes to shipbuilding

At Accenture, we believe that the only way shipbuilders will be able to address these imperatives is by embracing digital transformation. What’s required is nothing short of a root and branch industrial reinvention whereby shipbuilders adopt the "Industry X.0" framework: a next-generation industrial framework that leverages intelligent systems connected via the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to create a fully digital value chain.

Accenture analysis of the impact of Industry X.0 is impressive. We looked at businesses in heavy industries such as mining and aircraft manufacture and found that organisations employing Industry X.0 practices reduced operational costs by between 15 percent and 20 percent in just five years and increased revenues by 10 percent to 15 percent.

However, despite such advances, underestimating the potential of digital remains a common trait in aerospace & defence (A&D). Accenture’s latest global survey of A&D executives found that 97 percent say they’re willing to digitally reinvent their business, but only 9 percent are already using digital capabilities to drive operational efficiency and business growth. The danger here is that a gap will emerge between these digital leaders and the rest. All shipbuilders today should be looking at Industry X.0 and how best to leverage it within their organizations.

Five key technologies

In shipbuilding, Industry X.0 promises to deliver a connected ecosystem of digital technologies that drive higher operational efficiency, faster growth, and an enhanced experience for both the customer and operational user. We’ve identified five core technologies that all naval shipbuilders should prioritise:

  1. Digital twin and digital thread: Using digital technologies to drive efficiencies in the design of ships and improving tracking across the supply chain.

  2. Data analytics with intelligent systems: Leveraging big data and analytics to drive operational efficiency and continuous improvement throughout a programme.

  3. Mobility with immersive technology: Using mobility, VR and AR to dramatically increase worker effectiveness and productivity.

  4. Intelligent automation: Employing robots to streamline manual processes and augment human workers.

  5. Advanced manufacturing: Combining advanced manufacturing, IIoT, data and analytics into an integrated production operation for the shipyard.

Realising the full benefits of digital also requires an end-to-end view of the shipbuilding lifecycle, looking across the entire spectrum of activities in each naval programme; all the way from design, through construction and into operational service. Not just for the shipbuilder, but for the customer and navy user as well.

This end-to-end view is turned into reality through a digital platform and integrated flow of data running throughout the life of the ship, and across the ecosystem of ship designer, builder, suppliers, naval bases, operators, ships and more. This ecosystem generates a continuously rising stream of value powered by industrial analytics, for example by playing back user feedback and at-sea performance and condition data into the design, build and maintenance of ships.

It’s a compelling vision—and one that’s achievable today. Put simply, digital will happen in shipbuilding: The only question is who will be among the first wave to “pivot to the New." As ever, execution is the hardest part. To help, we’ve just produced a point-of-view paper that maps out in more detail how naval shipbuilders can deliver digital reinvention by investing in the five critical capabilities.

Many A&D companies and commercial shipbuilders across the world are already on this path. Those who hold back now will face a struggle to catch up in years to come.

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