The shipping industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increasing global trade and commerce and the need for efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable sea transportation solutions, as well as growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial and augmented intelligence, advanced vessel operation monitoring systems, and hydrogen fuel cells. In the last three years alone, there have been over 67,000 patents filed and granted in the shipping industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Ship: Articulated drilling pipelines.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

30+ innovations will shape the shipping industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the shipping industry using innovation intensity models built on over 25,000 patents, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Vessel propulsion systems, gas turbine-propelled vessels, and vessel internal combustion engine are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are underwater drilling support systems and anti-fouling ship hull coatings, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the shipping industry

Articulated drilling pipeline is a key innovation area in shipping

Articulated directional drilling is being increasingly adopted as a key technology to explore and exploit oil and gas resources in deep formations. It requires specialised thick-walled drill pipes to ensure high drilling efficiency.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established shipping companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of articulated drilling pipelines.

Key players in articulated drilling pipelines – a disruptive innovation in the shipping industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to articulated drilling pipelines

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
TechnipFMC 98 Unlock company profile
Korea Development Bank 98 Unlock company profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 76 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 44 Unlock company profile
Aker Pusnes 29 Unlock company profile
FMC Technologies 23 Unlock company profile
Connect LNG 17 Unlock company profile
Engie 15 Unlock company profile
Saipem 15 Unlock company profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 15 Unlock company profile
K+S 14 Unlock company profile
Cargotec 13 Unlock company profile
Eurodim 13 Unlock company profile
Schlumberger 12 Unlock company profile
Houlder 11 Unlock company profile
Stena 10 Unlock company profile
Crondall Energy Consultants 8 Unlock company profile
Exxon Mobil 7 Unlock company profile
Ipalco 6 Unlock company profile
Itrec 5 Unlock company profile
Wartsila 5 Unlock company profile
AFC Mercury 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

TechnipFMC is the leading patent filer in articulated drilling pipelines. It filed patents related to offshore fluid transfer systems and movable fluid conveying pipes. The company provides a wide range of subsea drilling and installation services. Its flowline product offerings include plug valves, fittings and joints for subsea drill pipes.

Other leading innovators in the articulated drilling pipelines space include Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

In terms of application diversity, Wartsila leads the pack, followed by Engie and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. By geographic reach, Connect LNG is the leading company, followed by Saipem and K+S.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the shipping industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Shipping.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.