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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 support systems. 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 support systems is a key innovation area in shipping

Underwater drilling requires a host of support systems and equipment, including hoisting systems, cranes, turntables, pumps, drill pipes, water-oil separating devices and derrick and clamping devices, among others.

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 underwater drilling support systems.

Key players in underwater drilling support systems – 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 support systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 43 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 31 Unlock Company Profile
Itrec 27 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 22 Unlock Company Profile
ConocoPhillips 19 Unlock Company Profile
Stena 15 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 10 Unlock Company Profile
Transocean 9 Unlock Company Profile
Dover 7 Unlock Company Profile
Ulstein Sea of Solutions 7 Unlock Company Profile
A.P. Moller - Maersk 6 Unlock Company Profile
Valaris 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Samsung Heavy Industries is the leading patent filer in underwater drilling support systems. It filed patents related to floating drilling platforms with water-oil separating devices, jack-up rigs having movable preload tanks, drive units for rotating spud cans around the drilling area, cantilever and mud trough for drilling, derrick and clamping devices for risers or drill pipes, methods and apparatus for flushing and sealing boreholes and continuous drilling, and turret systems integrated with a blow-out-preventer (BOP).

Other leading innovators in underwater drilling support systems include Hyundai Heavy Industries, Itrec, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

In terms of application diversity, Valaris leads the pack, followed by ConocoPhillips and DSME. By geographic reach, ConocoPhillips is the leading company, followed by Transocean and Stena.

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.