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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. Buy the report here.

. 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: Wheeled cargo stowing.

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

Wheeled cargo stowing is a key innovation area in shipping

The safe and efficient loading/unloading, stowage and transportation of wheeled or rolling cargoes such as cars, trucks, buses, and wheeled construction machineries require fit-for-purpose cargo vessels such as roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) ships that have built-in ramps on the bow or stern.

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 wheeled cargo stowing.

Key players in wheeled cargo stowing – 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 wheeled cargo stowing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Samsung Heavy Industries 467 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Development Bank 211 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings 137 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 30 Unlock Company Profile
AFC Mercury 29 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO Holdings 19 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 15 Unlock Company Profile
Cargotec 13 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Gas 12 Unlock Company Profile
Engie 9 Unlock Company Profile
General Dynamics 8 Unlock Company Profile
NSL 5 Unlock Company Profile
Lohr Industrie 5 Unlock Company Profile
Unison eTech 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) is one of the leading innovators in the wheeled cargo stowing space. The South Korean shipbuilder constructed the Figaro vehicle carriers operated by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. Capable of carrying either 7,880 cars or 3,550 cars together with 430 buses, Figaro is one of the world’s largest Ro-Ro vessels.

Other leading innovators in wheeled cargo stowing include Samsung Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

In terms of application diversity, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries leads the pack, followed by Unison eTech and DSME. By geographic reach, General Dynamics is the leading company, followed by Cargotec and Lohr Industrie.

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.