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“Industry 4.0, i.e. digital economy, is where the global economy is heading. We do not yet know to what extent it will find its application in the shipbuilding industry. It is
a question currently being addressed by the European Union. We have to analyse global elements and find guidance in which areas and to what extent we are able to compete, what direction are we headed in and to what aspects we may commit. We can be sure of one thing – the shipbuilding industry will not collapse, as demand for maritime transport will be ever-present,” believes professor Jerzy Bieliński, PhD, Head of the Department of Enterprise Economics, Faculty of Management at Gdańsk University.
Nevertheless, the assessment of the European shipbuilding sector indicates that the construction of vessels does not represent a dominant share in revenue generated by the said sector. Europe found its place in the manufacture of marine equipment, which represents nearly 70% of value generated by this sector. According to SEA Europe, in 2013 the entire European shipbuilding sector generated EUR 90 bn in value, with the biggest share in this value represented by the manufacture of marine equipment (EUR 60 bn).
“We do not have to constantly fight to keep shipbuilding alive, we can develop our capabilities related to the manufacture of marine equipment instead. This is our best business,” professor Bieliński says.
This is made even more relevant considering that the share of European enterprises manufacturing marine equipment in global production is over 50%, whereas shipbuilding in recent years accounted for the share of only 6-7% in terms of tonnage and 15% in terms of production value. Nonetheless, competition from South Korea and China keeps growing even as regards the manufacture of marine equipment.
A positive aspect is the fact that, according to EU data, European and Japanese marine equipment products are of the highest quality, Korean products are of decent quality, whereas Chinese products still have a lot of room for improvement. On the other hand, Europe has relatively high costs of manufacturing this equipment.
In addition, Europe is headed towards what can generally be called green ships. It is currently fascinated with any and all solutions related to blue economy, blue growth or green ships, i.e. the manufacture of ships that are friendly to the environment and do not emit any pollutants. This also includes hybrid ships and green materials used in their manufacture, green paints, environmentally-friendly drive systems and design principles. It is even possible to obtain EU subsidies for this kind of operations.
One of the panels of the Maritime Economy Forum Gdynia 2018 will be dedicated to the shipbuilding industry.
Article developed in cooperation with "Namiary na Morze i Handel" magazine.
Phot. source: Namiary na Morze i Handel magazine