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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: Offshore structure installation. 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

Offshore structure installation is a key innovation area in shipping

Offshore structure installation involves the installation of structures and facilities in marine environment mainly for the production and transmission of electricity, and oil and gas. Offshore structure components are typically manufactured and assembled onshore, transported to an offshore site, and then installed.

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 offshore structure installation.

Key players in offshore structure installation – 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 offshore structure installation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
TechnipFMC 33 Unlock Company Profile
ConocoPhillips 22 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 13 Unlock Company Profile
Naval Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
WindSea 12 Unlock Company Profile
Horton Wison Deepwater 9 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ackermans & Van Haaren 6 Unlock Company Profile
Engineering Business 6 Unlock Company Profile
Royal IHC 6 Unlock Company Profile
LOGIMA 6 Unlock Company Profile
Heerema International Group Services 5 Unlock Company Profile
Ambau 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

TechnipFMC is the leading patent innovator in the offshore structure installation space. Its patents in this space are related to the transportation and installation of offshore structures including wind turbines and oil and gas production modules. The company operates a fleet of specialised vessels to execute subsea drilling, construction, and pipe laying operations.

Other leading innovators in offshore structure installation include ConocoPhillips, Samsung Heavy Industries, and Naval Group.

In terms of application diversity, The Engineering Business leads the pack, followed by General Electric and Naval Group. By geographic reach, Horton Wison Deepwater is the leading company, followed by ConocoPhillips and Logima.

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.