Monday, May 20, 2024

Design weakness due to lack of tech tools hampering PH shipbuilding industry

A forum conducted by the Department of Science and Technology’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) has revealed that the local shipbuilding and ship repair (SBSR) industry’s weakness lies in design because of the lack of both software and hardware in training and educational institutions. 

A shipyard in Cebu province (Photo from DOST-MIRDC)

The DOST-MIRDC held the forum as part its 2023 industry study assessing the present capabilities of the industry considering that the Philippines has been the fourth largest ship producer in terms of gross tonnage since 2010.

In the dialogue conducted last April 19 at the DOST VII office in Lahug, Cebu City, representatives of the SBSR industry — from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Shipyard Association of the Philippines, and the academe — provided insights about the status, requirements, and potential direction of the SBSR industry. 

The SBSR players shared that the demand for ship repair is bigger than that for shipbuilding, but the industry “lacks support from the government,” said one of the participants in the dialogue.

The participants said building the industry’s capability and capacity to serve the requirements of the domestic market is crucial. The industry’s basic need, according to the players and stakeholders, is design.

While the local SBSR players build ships, they said the design come from abroad because the industry lacks the software and hardware needed for this type of task.

Jacklyn Descartin, chairperson of the Naval Architecture and Maritime Engineering at the University of Cebu Maritime Education and Training Center, acknowledged that the industry’s weakness in design because of the deficiency of technology tools in training institutions. 

She shared that the university has produced graduates who were taught manual drawing, although it is catching up with the shift in technology. “From basic AutoCAD,” she said, “the academe has improved capabilities for design.  The problem is technology transfer.”

With technology transfer, Descartin is referring to the capabilities of using the software, analyzing the results of the design, and determining options for dealing with design flaws. 

Vincent Cavalida, James Verallo, and Noel Taliman, representatives from MARINA, also agreed. According to them, the software being used in the country is acquired from abroad and is often not maximized or taught well enough in training centers.

Another point raised during the dialogue is the lack of certification and the dwindling of skilled human resources in the country.

Sky dela Torre, from the Philippine Trigon Shipyard Corporation, said the government should consider setting up a center for the SBSR that will consolidate the necessary assistance the industry needs — software, hardware, and technical assistance on how to approach common scenarios in the shipyard, among others. 

The SBSR center, he said, will address the basic and most crucial needs of the industry players and provide a high-impact intervention to the industry.

“This SBSR center will not require a huge space,” said dela Torre, adding the Philippine Shipyard Association can provide technical people, while the local government unit of Northern Cebu can donate the land or property.

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