Seizing, reading and realizing new business opportunities. With this vision and this approach Fincantieri studies, monitors, evaluates and defines the priorities which orientate its strategy. The analysis of mega trends is at the top of this process and identify the global transformations taking place in society, economy, culture and people's lives. The final purpose is to define risks and opportunities and give precise indications on the technologies needed to cope with them.
The Group's long-term vision is based on five pillars, at the core of the Research and Innovation process. Such pillars are the eco-sustainability and energy efficiency of ships and vessels (Green Ship); their digitization (Smart Ship); their automation (Autonomous Ship); more efficient, safe and sustainable production processes and structures (Smart Yards); innovative solutions for the Blue Economy (Smart Offshore Infrastructures).
Greening has been steering innovation and markets for years now and, today, it represents an important issue in the eyes of public opinion. CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association, recently announced its formal commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 on all cruise ships, in line with the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) objective to reach zero carbon emissions throughout the whole naval industry by the end of this century. Fincantieri considers Green Ship as a milestone of its vision. Recent contracts, whether related to new builds or refitting, feature the use of advanced technologies, such as Liquefied Natural gas (LNG), batteries, pollutant reducing systems and energy saving systems. Fincantieri aims to win the green challenge through a holistic approach, covering all the onboard sub-systems. Future researches will be focused on reducing air and water emissions, greater innovation of on-board waste management systems and disposal systems and reducing noise and vibrations. Furthermore, the Group supports the Green Fuel Switch (also by harnessing renewable energy), and it believes in new technologies for de-carbonization such as Fuel Cells. Fincantieri encourages also the use of high performance materials and ecodesign ideas (for example design for ecocompatibility, evaluation of the life cycle, etc.).
Internet of Things (IOT) and smart devices are pervasive across all industrial sectors, including shipbuilding. The development of sensors, monitoring systems, support systems for navigation and on-board activities helps to increase the value added of the whole ship product and improves overall safety. Studies on pre-accident measures (i.e. design and operational solutions to reduce accident frequency), in addition to studies on measures to improve ship resilience (i.e. the capacity of a ship to survive accidents), will increase safety across the board. Furthermore, implementing technologically advanced solutions will enable process optimization and automation and reduce the operating costs.
One of the most interesting challenges for the shipbuilding industry is the development of an autonomous ship of significant size to use in any operational scenario, including in busy port areas. Automation trend is driven by key technological factors based on new technologies characterized by the integration of different systems. Such technologies will enable ship tracking operations and its autonomous maneuvering. Moreover, each highly smart or autonomous ship will require highly advanced IT security studies to avoid any type of hacker attack.
Fincantieri has identified different areas of interest for improving design and production stages of future smart yards. Improving safety and productivity is the main purpose. Computer models, virtual product methodologies, additive manufacture, cobotics, logistics and quality control procedures will drive the evolution of the shipyard within Industry 4.0. In coming years, ships will be designed and produced with greater regard for life cycle, from design to decommissioning. Moreover, innovative and cost-effective production techniques and methods will be developed, with a particular focus on welding and joining procedures.
Smart Offshore Infrastructures
The blue economy sector is evolving rapidly and Fincantieri wants to lead the change. Innovation is steered by new business models and by more efficient system to harness the maritime environment, thanks also to structures that can be adapted to different uses, such as working and living at sea. Multipurpose platforms will be able to support different activities at the same time, such as aquaculture, energy production and the extraction of raw materials and hydrocarbons. Furthermore, the platforms will be used to store products (energy and materials) during operation. Their modular construction will enable modifications on the infrastructure during its life cycle by adding or dismantling individual modules. Changing requirements will be more easily met. This will increase the overall efficiency of offshore operations. New offshore activities, and their gradual movement to ever more remote areas, will require support infrastructures, particularly for the transfer of people and materials to and from land.