Share this article

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: Ship loading/unloading cableways. Buy the report here.

Smarter leaders trust GlobalData

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

Ship loading/unloading cableway is a key innovation area in shipping

Cableway or ropeway systems are used for loading and unloading cargoes/passengers, overcoming the rough terrain around the dock area. Steel wire ropes/cables are also widely used in elevator, crane lifting and hanging basket applications for the shipping industry.

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 ship loading/unloading cableways.

Key players in ship loading/unloading cableways – 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 ship loading/unloading cableways

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Samsung Heavy Industries 52 Unlock Company Profile
Itrec 30 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 25 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 24 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 22 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 19 Unlock Company Profile
Subsea 7 13 Unlock Company Profile
NOV 12 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-Werk Nenzing 9 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 9 Unlock Company Profile
Jumbo Maritime 7 Unlock Company Profile
Bluemarine Offshore Yard Service 7 Unlock Company Profile
Akastor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Protea 6 Unlock Company Profile
Engineering Business 6 Unlock Company Profile
Heerema International Group Services 5 Unlock Company Profile
Seasight Davits 5 Unlock Company Profile
Cassa Depositi e Prestiti 5 Unlock Company Profile
KYBoration 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Samsung Heavy Industries is the leading patent filer in ship loading/unloading cableways. The patents filed by the company in this space are related to the arrangement of loading or unloading equipment for cargo vessels, submerged cargo handling structure, vessels having multifunctional cranes, offshore construction and wind turbine installation vessels, and crane elevating systems for floating marine structures.

Other leading innovators in ship loading/unloading cableways include Itrec, Rolls-Royce, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

In terms of application diversity, Heerema International Group Services leads the pack, followed by The Engineering Business and Seasight Davits. By geographic reach, Bluemarine Offshore Yard Service is the leading company, followed by Subsea 7 and NOV.

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

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.