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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: Underwater drilling platforms. 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

Underwater drilling platforms is a key innovation area in shipping

Offshore drilling involves drilling of a wellbore below the seabed to explore and extract oil and gas from rock formations beneath the ocean floor.

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 underwater drilling platforms.

Key players in underwater drilling platforms – 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 underwater drilling platforms

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Korea Development Bank 249 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 199 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 168 Unlock Company Profile
Itrec 134 Unlock Company Profile
Transocean 30 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 27 Unlock Company Profile
A.P. Moller - Maersk 26 Unlock Company Profile
ConocoPhillips 19 Unlock Company Profile
NOV 16 Unlock Company Profile
Valaris 16 Unlock Company Profile
Stena 16 Unlock Company Profile
Baker Hughes 12 Unlock Company Profile
Cassa Depositi e Prestiti 9 Unlock Company Profile
Crondall Energy Consultants 8 Unlock Company Profile
Eatonoration 8 Unlock Company Profile
Dril-Quip 7 Unlock Company Profile
Akastor 7 Unlock Company Profile
Dover 7 Unlock Company Profile
Saipem 7 Unlock Company Profile
ICON Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
Ulstein Sea of Solutions 7 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 6 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ihc Holland Ie 6 Unlock Company Profile
Aker Solutions 5 Unlock Company Profile
TechnipFMC 5 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) is the leading patent filer in underwater drilling platforms. The patents filed by the company in this space are related to floating drilling platforms, sealed derrick structure for polar drilling vessels, wire line tensioner arrangement, and methods of installing upper sheave blocks and wave damper for drill ships.

Other leading innovators in underwater drilling platforms include Samsung Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and Itrec.

In terms of application diversity, IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) leads the pack, followed by ConocoPhillips and Akastor. By geographic reach, ConocoPhillips is the leading company, followed by Crondall Energy Consultants and Eaton.

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.