The SMARTYards project aims at improving the productivity of European small and medium sized shipyards and related subcontractors working with them by at least 20%. This will be achieved by improving knowledge and technological skills, needed to survive in a tough global competition and to provide innovative products. This is particularly important as the technology gap between larger and smaller European yards has increased significantly over the last decades.
The technical part of the project will develop, test and validate smart technology solutions, comprising the optimum between design, equipment and work organisation. All solutions shall address the specific needs and challenges of the target group, which have been clearly identified in the proposal. Seven key Technology Areas and related innovative ideas have been identified, which represent critical processes from design through production to repair and conversion. These solutions will be adapted and documented in a Technology Catalogue. The most promising solutions will be selected to build, test and validate at least seven physical mock-ups, which will be demonstrated to the European maritime community, represented by a User Group. Technical developments will be accompanied by the elaboration of innovative business models, productivity and environmental assessment, the development of training schemes and a sustainable innovation network in close cooperation with European associations.
The project comprises 20 partners from 10 European countries with SME shipyards and technology providers in a leading role.
While improving the technology level of small and medium sized companies, the project will contribute to the overall competitiveness of the EU maritime sector, sustaining the wide network of large and smaller companies. Innovative ideas and business models will strengthen the role of SMEs and create new employment opportunities.
Smart technology to boost smaller shipyard productivity across Europe
European small- and medium-sized (S&M) shipyards face specific challenges concerning product performance and reduced environmental impact. An EU initiative introduced smart technology solutions to tackle these challenges.
While small and medium sized companies form the backbone of European economy in many industry sectors, they face specific challenges related to the uptake and implementation of innovative technologies in their design and production processes. These are related to limited financial capabilities and human resources, low economy of scale, lack of skills and limited access to information and cooperation networks, all available to large industry players.
To improve productivity of maritime S&M shipyards and their partners in the process chain, the EU-funded http://www.smartyards-project.eu (SMARTYARDS) (Developing smart technologies for productivity improvement of European small and medium sized shipyards) project put together a catalogue of more than 25 smart solutions in 7 different technology areas. Listing affordable, robust and flexible technical solutions, it also identifies necessary skills and recommends new business models to help exploit solutions more efficiently in a cooperative process.
Based on these solutions and specific needs of partner shipyards, the SMARTYARDS team successfully developed, tested and validated six smart technology show cases. For each of the prototypes, productivity improvements as well as the impact on the environment and health and safety conditions were assessed in detail. Training material was elaborated and tested.
Apart from assessing the impact of the six prototypes individually, the SMARTYARDS partners estimated that implementing a wider range of proposed solutions in a company can reduce personnel cost and process lead times by about 20 % and 33 % respectively.
The SMARTYARDS partners and outside companies from an external user group have clearly identified the potentials of a Europe-wide research, innovation and technology transfer network for the competitiveness of S&M shipyards and suppliers. The project has developed a concept for a sustainable network, as well as tangible instruments to support cooperation, such as templates for cooperation and technology transfer agreements. As most of the small companies are well connected at local or regional level, a network of six European regional maritime clusters was initiated at the end of the project, which will improve the access of small companies to innovative technologies, skills and competences substantially. This network is open for new partners and will prevail after the end of the project.