Future Proofing Our Shipyards

Mr B. Siva, Vice President – Operations Benoi Yard, explains some of the key transformations taking place as ST Engineering embraces the future of shipbuilding.

The digital revolution has driven more and more shipbuilders to embrace new technologies. Many of these efforts would require us to make the leap from mere computerisation and automation to Industry 4.0, which focuses heavily on interconnectivity, machine learning and real-time data.

At ST Engineering, the future of shipbuilding is envisioned to be smarter, safer and more efficient. Given the ubiquity of data, coupled with the networks and ‘system of systems’ made possible by the Internet of Things, future yard operations will be increasingly driven by seamless data flow – from contracting to designing, manufacturing and lifecycle management.

We’ve adopted a multi-prong approach to the transformative process. In terms of smart engineering, we’re strengthening our 3D modelling and simulation expertise and experimenting with more augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies to create compelling digital twins of vessels constructed at our yards.

Shipbuilding materials and technologies have been evolving over the years. Nowadays, the use of lighter steel or composites materials, for example, will enable our customers to achieve considerable savings in terms of fuel consumption and operating costs. The superstructure of the Littoral Mission Vessel is an excellent example.

On the manufacturing side, the use of robotics, advanced machines and smarter digital tools has allowed us to embed greater precision and efficiency into production. This is being achieved through our CNC cutting and bending machines, underwater plasma-cutting machine, as well as our robotic-welding capabilities, which ensure our ability to deliver consistent and higher-quality manufacturing outcomes.

We’re making other improvements to support a smart and digital workplace. Biometrics and facial recognition software for improved access control, AR/VR technologies for more immersive training experiences, paperless workflows and wearable devices are all part and parcel of such efforts.

Over at the store, we operate an automated warehouse management system with features for real-time tracking of spares and inventory, which is critical for uninterrupted yard operations. This is coupled with our centralised asset management system, which incorporates smart analytics for predictive maintenance.

The training of staff too, has been crucial to our success in future-proofing the shipyard. Majority of training activities are conducted in-house and they allow our people to acquire the necessary skills to meet the new challenges and requirements.

Our efforts will not stop here. To keep pace with evolving trends, we will continue to innovate, as well as team up with strategic partners in our search for new possibilities.

Mr B. Siva
Vice President – Operations Benoi Yard