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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: Marine fenders. 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

Marine fender is a key innovation area in shipping

Marine fenders, also known as marine bumpers, are protective equipment made of rubber, foam or composite materials that are designed to provide the cushion effect to ships, boats and other naval vessels and prevent them from colliding against other vessels, wharves, piers and ports or berths.

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 marine fenders.

Key players in marine fender – 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 marine fender

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Yokohama Rubber 59 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 20 Unlock Company Profile
Trelleborg Marine Systems 8 Unlock Company Profile
Shibata Industrial 8 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 8 Unlock Company Profile
Bridgestone 7 Unlock Company Profile
Trelleborg 7 Unlock Company Profile
Houlder 7 Unlock Company Profile
BMT Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Damen Shipyards Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Yokohama Rubber, a tire company based in Japan, is the leading patent filer in the marine fender space. The company filed patents related to pneumatic fender management systems, sensor housing containers for pneumatic fenders, fender transporting and monitoring methods, fender mouthpiece and safety valve performance, and the use of protective covers for vertical pneumatic fenders.

Yokohama Rubber provides both fixed and floating fenders for various marine applications including ship-to-ship operations, ports, and terminals. In December 2017, it developed ultra-large (6m diameter) floating pneumatic rubber fenders to support the safe transfer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo from floating production, storage and offloading systems (FPSO) to LNG tankers.

Other leading innovators in the marine fender space include Samsung Heavy Industries, Trelleborg Marine Systems and Shibata Industrial.

In terms of application diversity, Trelleborg leads the pack, followed by Yokohama Rubber and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). By geographic reach, Trelleborg Marine Systems is the leading company, followed by Yokohama Rubber and BMT Group.

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.