Maritime assets are capital intensive, and downtime is costly. Replacement of marine spare parts involves many actors in the supply chain and can be costly in terms of inventory, logistics, and cost of spare parts (especially for obsolete parts). For these reasons, three key Singaporean organizations, such as the local AM cluster (NAMIC), the Port Authority (MPA) and the Shipping Association, are uniting their efforts to develop AM for marine parts in the maritime industry.
Singapore has one of the World’s busiest seaport and is an important hub for the supply of marine parts, supporting a diverse ecosystem of shipping lines and maritime companies. However, there are challenges in the procuring of marine parts, and these include high transportation and inventory cost, long lead time and obsolete parts that are hard to find. These challenges could potentially be overcome through the adoption of AM which is a key enabler for more digital, connected and leaner workflows. AM, used as a lever, could potentially strengthen Singapore’s position as a global port and one-stop destination, as well as a hub for digital manufacturing.
The objective of the JIP is to establish the commercial viability, technical feasibility and regulatory requirements behind the use of AM for marine parts. It also aims to highlight key challenges and opportunities in deploying AM for marine parts, including the approval, qualification and certification processes required by classification societies. The JIP could potentially spin off further developmental projects amongst interested industry players, tech providers and classification societies that are keen to develop expertise and facilities in AM testing, qualification and certification.
Phase 1 of this JIP was completed in October 2019, and the final report can be found here. As part of Phase 1, a consolidated database of nearly 600,000 marine parts orders, based on the information shared by JIP partners, was put together through a series of data collection surveys, workshops, and interviews, taking into consideration local market conditions and partners’ concerns. Subsequently, 100 common marine spare parts were shortlisted, based on various commercial drivers such as value proposition, frequency of demand, and inventory portfolio and lead time; these represent a strong business potential for novel technologies. The findings were then further validated with JIP partners through surveys and interviews. This iterative process allowed the research team to formulate a methodology for shortlisting of most potential marine spare parts for AM based on their commercial viability.
The first part of the JIP set the direction for further research that could focus on gathering and analyzing the data from a large pool of SSA member companies to identify many more thousands of marine spare parts that could be commercially viable for producing though AM route which would solve a variety of ship operational issues such as unwarranted vessel downtime and equipment obsolescence due to unavailability of spare parts.
The underlying assumption is that AM technology will play a critical role in achieving a more productive and sustainable maritime industry in the next 10 to 20 years. Material innovation and design innovation of marine parts will be important to deliver greater value. So now the time has come for Phase 2. Interested classification societies or AM technology suppliers can submit proposals to participate as an industry consortium leader. Details for JIP Phase 2 can be found in this document. This second Call For Proposals aims to bring together key industry players along the value chain to showcase the potential of AM technology for maritime and/or marine parts by printing and certifying parts, and installing them onboard vessels.