Singaporean Yards Need to Follow Korean Lead

By Wendy Laursen 2014-07-24 12:56:00

Singapore is not getting any bigger. Already some of the country's shipyards are getting work done offshore, because there is no room for them to expand their physical footprint at home. While partially solving the problem, this helps countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam develop the skills they need to then become independent competitors with Singapore at a time when Singapore itself is experiencing a skills shortage.

For now, order books in Singapore are healthy, particularly in the offshore market. “The challenge is that they have to drive execution against those orders. The have to look at their margins,” says Rajiv Ghatikar, vice president and general manager for Siemens product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services in the ASEAN and Australia.

This involves examining how well they collaborate between say their engineering and manufacturing departments, how well they can leverage and reuse designs or best practices. “They keep looking at the Koreans who are a few steps ahead of the game in terms of their ability to drive more innovation and be more mature about using technology,” says Ghatikar. “Technology is a differentiator that we believe will help this industry overcome its challenged in the most self-controlled way.”

Siemens’ PLM is an end-to-end enterprise wide system that supports companies making any kind of business transformation, he says, and it has worked for Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea. HHI defined their most important challenge as the need to adapt to a fast-changing market, and as a result the company has created a digital shipyard environment with a single repository for all associated data. 

This resulted in enhanced productivity and more throughput, says Ghatikar. There is now less duplication, less design effort, higher quality of designs and few problems caused by scheduling errors. 

“These are the sort of productivity gains that the local Singaporean shipyards should also be looking to. They simply can’t do much more in terms of throughput, because they have to use existing capacity, existing labor. These results in HHI actually echo very well with the Singaporean situation and where they aspire to be.”

Ghatikar emphasises the solution is designed to support the different desires of different shipyards, in fact it is so flexible that it used across a wide range of industries not just shipbuilding and offshore. 

He believes that a lot of the bigger players in Singapore are quite slow in adopting such technology only because they haven’t seen success in their own country. It is a hesitance that he is trying to change step by step. “We are now at the cusp of those changes.”