Skip to main content Skip to Footer


Maritime in the new

Bringing the power and connectivity of “Industry X.0” to the naval shipbuilding industry


Today’s naval shipbuilders must innovate to improve efficiency, drive down costs and develop new services. Digital technologies are their only option for achieving this. And the best approach for applying these technologies in shipbuilding is Industry X.0—Accenture’s next-generation industrial framework that leverages intelligent systems connected via the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to create a fully digital value chain.




Design Produce Support


By combining Industry X.0 with an end-to-end view of the shipbuilding life cycle—from design through to operational service, and from suppliers to navy users—a naval shipbuilder can advance toward becoming the “digital shipbuilder” of the future, and generate a rising stream of value throughout the life of each ship. This value is realized by collaborating with a digitally connected ecosystem to improve operational efficiency, navy user experiences and ship availability while also developing new services.

To navigate this journey, a shipbuilder must take a practical, systematic approach based around six steps detailed in this paper. Those who take these steps successfully will be positioned to lead the industry as it transitions into the digital era—and to leave others trailing in their wake.


The naval shipbuilding industry is seeing unprecedented change and disruption, under the impact of trends including rising program costs, expanding international opportunities and rising pressure from government customers seeking value for money.

Together, these trends are creating four imperatives for today’s shipbuilders:

  1. Deliver and secure margin and time-to-market of complex shipbuilding programs

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

  3. Drive innovation towards the creation of the connected ship and the connected fleet

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

As the pressure on budgets continues to intensify, naval shipbuilders must do all these things at pace if they are to become competitive internationally. In some markets, major naval procurement programs now require shipbuilders to invest in extra capacity and transformation to improve efficiency.

… making digital reinvention the only option

There is only one way that shipbuilders can rise to all these challenges: by embracing digital reinvention. In Accenture’s view, the way forward is to apply Industry X.0 to power their progress to the long-heralded "digital shipbuilder." This paper describes how shipbuilders can navigate this journey—and create the industry’s digitally-enabled future.


While the concept of the digital shipbuilder has been discussed for several years, many shipbuilders have struggled to grasp what it means. This is now changing, as global players begin to turn the vision into reality.

For example, in September 2017 BAE Systems announced plans to build Australia’s first digital shipyard in Adelaide, if it is selected to build Future Frigates for the country . And more generally, ship manufacturers worldwide are starting to look at more digitally-mature industries such as aviation and mining for successful approaches to adapt to their own operations.

Embedded barriers to progress …

However, research suggests that the aerospace & defense (A&D) industry’s digital aspirations are still running ahead of the reality. Accenture’s latest global survey of A&D executives found that 97 percent are willing to digitally reinvent their business—but that only 9 percent are already using digital capabilities to drive operational efficiency and business growth. This is backed up by the UK’s latest Industrial Digital Review. In general, digital maturity is low in shipbuilding, and digital investments tend to be directed towards individual technologies and specific use cases.

Why has the industry’s digital advance been so gradual? For several reasons. Often, enthusiasm for digital technologies’ potential is undermined by a lack of clarity on the business outcomes. Cultural barriers are a further issue: the industry’s largely traditional manufacturing mindset can conflict with new digitally-enabled ways of working and deter digital talent from joining.

Add to this the shipbuilding industry’s intrinsic characteristics—manufacturing bespoke products in low volumes on long production cycles, with high levels of change and customization, rugged industrial environments, and concerns over cyber security—and the challenges to digital innovation become clear.

… can now be overcome

However, all of these barriers can be overcome. Across the industry, preconceptions and ways of working are being challenged by the ready availability of low-cost, commoditized digital products and connectivity. And the impacts of digital are being amplified by advances in big data and analytics, intelligent automation and an increasingly liquid workforce. Together, these trends mean digital reinvention is an increasingly realistic option for shipbuilders worldwide.