A very large gas carrier built by Jiangnan Shipyard Group undocks from a port in Shanghai in November. (CHEN MENGZE/FOR CHINA DAILY)
R&D investment, design, construction techniques drive orders to local yards
Shanghai-based shipbuilders have been accelerating the development of specialized areas and setting ambitious targets for 2023.Those moves are expected to help the nation's shipbuilding industry as it becomes a world powerhouse in the field through high-quality development, industry experts said.
The nation's leading builder of liquified natural gas carriers, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co Ltd in Shanghai, said it will double its LNG carrier construction capacity in the next few years. On Feb 18, it delivered an 80,000-cubic-meter LNG carrier to Shenzhen Gas Co.
The vessel, which is known as Dapeng Princess, is the world's largest LNG carrier to navigate shallow waterways. The company said it is the latest example of Hudong-Zhonghua's capability in research and development, design and construction of specialized ships.
The company, with more than two decades of experience in LNG carrier R&D, set a record in Chinese shipbuilding history by receiving new orders last year for 37 LNG carriers, according to Feng Xiaowei, assistant general manager at Hudong-Zhonghua.
The new orders catapulted Hudong-Zhonghua's market share in LNG carriers from less than 7 percent in 2021 to about 21.8 percent globally. The shipyard's delivery calendar is fully booked until 2028, Feng said.
As part of its strategy to double LNG construction capacity, Hudong-Zhonghua plans to deliver four to five carriers this year. It expects to have 16 LNG ships under construction simultaneously at the shipyard during peak times this year, and expand its facilities to allow delivery of up to 12 LNG carriers annually, Feng said.
In the past 25 years, Hudong-Zhonghua officials said the company has continued to make breakthroughs in key fields of carrier development, continuously expanded its products and consistently optimized its presence in the carrier industrial chain. Such efforts have not only set a high standard for safety for China's LNG energy transportation, but also contributed to the Chinese shipbuilding industry's growing sophistication, Feng added.
At Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard, with a history that can be traced back to 1865, a digital revolution is rolling out.
Digital transformation began to take hold at Jiangnan as early as in 2015, a move that was made to help ensure the shipyard's survival and long-term development, said Lin Ou, Jiangnan president.
Lin said that after the world's leading shipbuilders saw serious problems on their balance sheets, Jiangnan decided to enhance its product value and production efficiency via digitalization.
Digitalization should be seen as a solution rather than a goal, Lin said, adding that the purpose of the transition to digitalization is to become a leader in high-quality development and a breaker of the rules in traditional manufacturing.
Within a single digital model, the shipyard has looked to set up a technology system and creative ecosystem that covers all aspects of a ship's life cycle, including R&D, design, construction, testing, operation, maintenance and retirement.
A truly digitalized enterprise needs to have digitalization adopted not only in design, but also in production, management, delivery and operation, Lin said. He added that digitalization should assist all departments of the shipyard, including providing timely and accurate data for production management and logistics, enhancing supply chain resilience, raising engineering management efficiency and optimizing production costs.
The process of fulfilling all the targets will be long and full of difficulties, Lin said.