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January 15, 2019

I’m not a huge fan of making predictions, but in my role, I need to attempt to navigate through the many sources of information and distil from them what might, or is most likely to, happen in the future. After writing my last blog post, Shipbuilding 2018 In Review, someone asked me how accurate my 2018 predictions were. I totally forgot I wrote a blog post with 2018 predictions, so I had to search for it: Shipbuilding Tech Predictions for 2018

After re-reading my 2018 predictions, I do think that I did fairly well. To be 100% honest, these predictions aren’t very specific which makes it easier to be right; however, almost all predictions are not very specific…because that’s either hard or downright impossible. Below are my 2018 predictions from last year and some comments on how accurate I was with my thinking.

My 2018 PredictionCorrect (?)My 2019 Comments
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 attempts to integrate several of their key systems together. Note: I did not use Business Transformation on purpose.



I was pretty bang on with this. Most companies are focusing on their digital transformation but are not really taking the opportunity to adapt their processes as well as their product and services. They continue to digitize their current processes for cost cutting reasons, which could be bad. For more of my thought read blog post: Digital Twin (Ship) Is NOT just for Cost Cutting
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.
This is where my thought of the future was slightly off. Even though there was an increase in the number of companies using laser scanning, I envisioned it being adopted even more than it has.
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.
I mentioned this in my Shipbuilding 2018 In Review blog post; VR has made a lot of progress on the technology front, but from a shipbuilding workflow perspective, not so much.
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.
I was pretty bang on with this prediction as well. Digital Twin language dominated 2018 conferences and almost every organization is trying to figure out what it means for their company.
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:)]
As mentioned in my previous blog post Shipbuilding 2018 In Review, there was not very much commercial usage in 2018. However, the technology is advancing, and companies are investing in this technology because they believe it will provide them with a competitive edge.
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 basic uses of AI similar to the China Smart Ship. It is a start though.
In my opinion, AI is still one of the technologies that will change and improve our industry in ways we cannot imagine. I’m not talking about computers doing our jobs for us, but augmenting them and providing us with vast amounts of insight which we can use to make decisions.
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.
My prediction was correct, but there are a lot more organizations who are investing in autonomous ships than I had envisioned when I wrote these predictions. This is good news.
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.
As mentioned in my previous blog post Shipbuilding 2018 In Review, AR has made a lot of progress on the technology front, but for a shipbuilder’s workflow, not so much.
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.
IoT is definitely sliding down into the trough of disillusionment.


Security concerns and the lack of a platform are definitely the technological problems. However, what I didn’t really realize back in 2017 was that the companies investing in IoT were not identifying their business goals correctly or even at all. As a result, many IoT implementations failed to provide any significant value.

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.
This prediction was in line with what I observed in 2018 and wrote in my previous blog Shipbuilding 2018 In Review.

Closing Remarks

As the saying goes: predictions are hard, especially about the future.

That said, I did fairly well on my 2018 predictions. As I mentioned in my Shipbuilding Tech Predictions for 2018 post, on the surface, it might not look like shipbuilding has achieved much in the last few years. However, shipbuilding is achieving a lot, but it doesn’t surface to the world and customers right away. We’ve seen huge changes of mindset and a bias for action, but other innovations in shipbuilding will take a few years before they can be seen in the end product.

My predictions for 2019 will be similar to 2018’s. We’ll continue to see progress, but there will appear to be very few significant accomplishments. However, by 2020, as many of the areas we have been investing in start to pay-off, it will become much harder to make these predictions. Which ones will come first? Time will tell.

Please share your thoughts.

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