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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: Ship loading/unloading pipelines. 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

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

Ship loading/unloading pipes are used for the transfer of liquid cargo such as oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from/to/between ships at sea.

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 ship loading/unloading pipelines.

Key players in ship loading/unloading 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 ship loading/unloading pipelines

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Korea Development Bank 133 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 132 Unlock Company Profile
TechnipFMC 96 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 65 Unlock Company Profile
Aker Pusnes 41 Unlock Company Profile
Bluewater Energy Services 34 Unlock Company Profile
Saipem 31 Unlock Company Profile
Engie 30 Unlock Company Profile
Connect LNG 23 Unlock Company Profile
FMC Technologies 21 Unlock Company Profile
Single Buoy Moorings 15 Unlock Company Profile
K+S 14 Unlock Company Profile
Eurodim 13 Unlock Company Profile
Houlder 11 Unlock Company Profile
Cargotec 10 Unlock Company Profile
Oceaneering International 10 Unlock Company Profile
Techflow Marine 10 Unlock Company Profile
M-I 9 Unlock Company Profile
Naturgy Energy Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Agfa-Gevaert 7 Unlock Company Profile
MacGregor Pusnes 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron U. S. A 7 Unlock Company Profile
AFC Mercury 7 Unlock Company Profile
Equinor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) is the leading patent filer in ship loading/unloading pipelines. It filed patents related to crude oil loading/unloading piping systems, evaporative gas recovery pipes, methods and systems of adjusting the pressure inside a load pipe to either prevent or reduce generation of evaporated gas when transferring liquid cargo such as LNG, LPG, and crude oil, and LNG pipe support systems and methods.

Other leading innovators in ship loading/unloading pipelines include Samsung Heavy Industries, TechnipFMC, and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

In terms of application diversity, Engie leads the pack, followed by Oceaneering International and Single Buoy Moorings. By geographic reach, K+S is the leading company, followed by Oceaneering International and M-I.

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.