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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: Derrick cranes. Buy the report here.

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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

Derrick cranes is a key innovation area in shipping

A derrick crane is a device used for lifting large loads both vertically and horizontally. It comprises a vertical stationary mast extending from a base and a moveable boom, which is equipped with cables and pulleys/sheaves and is connected to the base of the mast.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established shipping companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of derrick cranes.

Key players in derrick cranes – 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 derrick cranes

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Itrec 32 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 16 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 14 Unlock Company Profile
NOV 12 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 9 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
Vestas Wind Systems 8 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-Werk Nenzing 7 Unlock Company Profile
Engineering Business 6 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 6 Unlock Company Profile
Cassa Depositi e Prestiti 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Huisman Equipment (formerly Itrec) is the leading patent filer in derrick cranes. The patents filed by the company in this space are related to crane structure and hoisting devices for offshore wind turbine installation, heavy lift crane barge for offshore drilling, marine knuckle boom cranes, and floating and slew bearing assembly methods.

Crane offerings by Huisman for offshore applications include leg encircling, pedestal mounted, heavy lift mast, tub, subsea, offshore wind, and floating sheerleg cranes.

Other leading innovators in derrick cranes include Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and NOV.

In terms of application diversity, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries leads the pack, followed by The Engineering Business and Vestas Wind Systems. By geographic reach, Vestas Wind Systems is the leading company, followed by Huisman Equipment and NOV.

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

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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.