Wow another year is almost done. If you are like me you are getting ready for the holidays and spending time with the family. For my last post of this year, I thought I would make it short by providing some predictions of what we will see next year as well as what we will not see.
- Digital Transformation: We will continue to see many companies focusing on their digital transformation. This will include mainly digitizing their current processes and information with attempting to integrate several of their key systems together. Note: I did not use Business Transformation on purpose.
- Laser Scanning / Point Clouds: There will be an increased amount of companies incorporating laser scanning into their processes. This can be for repair, maintenance, assembly verification, creating as-builts or the many other opportunities.
- Virtual Reality: There will only be a slight increase in adoption of VR. There will be some new technology and vastly improved workflows which our industry can leverage probably by the end of the year. However, the delay of adoption will mean only a small percentage adopt it.
- Digital Twin: Will continue to be the buzz word of the year. The benefits with the digital twin are real; however, achieving it is much more challenging than most think. Therefore we will not see any (or very few) uses in production of the digital twin in our industry. I also predict that there will be many experts arguing the definition of Digital Twin.
- 3D Printing: We will continue to see progress with 3D printing but there will be no significant commercial usage in 2018. Similar verification studies will be conducted such as the 3D printed propeller I mentioned in my previous blog post. The DNV GL guidelines for Additive Manufacturing will also help propel progress [pun intended:)]
- Artificial Intelligence: AI is one of the technologies that excites me and in some moments, scares me. The good thing is that even with all the progress we will see, there will not be anything to the level of Skynet. In shipbuilding, we will barely see any real examples of AI. In shipping we will start hearing about more uses of AI but most will be very very basic uses of AI similar to the China Smart Ship. It is a start though.
- Autonomous Ships: We will see more requirements to support “Reduced Manned” or “Intelligent” ships this year. There will be a few semi-autonomous commercial ships that companies will be testing this year such as the Yara Birkeland.
- Augmented Reality: Despite being one of the technologies that I think will change our industry and our lives, I think we will not see any significant usage this year. I was impressed with some of the AR units I used and see the value, but the technology is not a natural extension of what we do …yet.
- Internet of Things: Will continue to see papers and position statements of the benefits of IoT with very little adoption. The lack of a platform or a network of platforms which can communicate with one another is the source of the problem. Also, security will be another challenge.
- Drones: We will see classification societies increasing the usage of drones to improve several of their activities such as inspection. Shipyards will not really adopt drones. All navies will add drones to their fleet at a similar rate Amazon is adding drones.
As I write the above, I noticed most of the technologies that I mentioned do not seem to be on the trajectory of making an impact in 2018. Do not get me wrong: we will see improvements in all, and in some cases, there will be individuals or companies that use it successfully, but for the early majority it is still a few years away.
The exciting part is that most of these technologies will mature at the same time and that will create an explosion of possibilities. As I mentioned in previous blog posts this year, the real impactful changes will be made by a confluence of technologies not just one.
The key thing most shipbuilding organizations will focus on in 2018 is to ensure they are ready for the future. At the heart of this is preparation or implementation of their digital/business transformation and their innovation platform(s) of choice. To be ready with a strong foundation to adopt these technologies and the solutions they provide you will need the right tools, processes and most importantly the right culture.
My last prediction is that you will continue to read this blog next year.