is a thematic network of research and development activities devoted to
product development and innovation in shipbuilding. More than 25 companies
and research organisations from seven European countries are working together,
giving the programme the resources it needs to promote R&D in several
key areas of ship design and utilisation, and to draw the results together
in a 'show' vessel that will represent the potential future of shipping.
maritime industry plays an important role in economic success, providing
essential waterborne transportation of both cargo and passengers. However,
persistent growth in world trade is placing pressure on all forms of transportation
to be more efficient and more flexible. Environmental issues are also
very much at the fore. In June 1996, the European
Maritime Industries Forum (MIF) produced a plan that addressed the
R&D needs of the maritime industry and highlighted key areas of technology.
The shipbuilding industry, led by the COREDES (Co-operation for Research
and Development in European Shipbuilding) committee of the European Shipbuilders
Association, began to look at ways in which this plan could be implemented.
The result was PRODIS - a thematic network designed to co-ordinate R&D
activities relevant to product development and innovation in shipbuilding.
research programmes, a thematic network is structured to enable research
in specific related areas, while also having a research aim that integrates
those areas into a whole. PRODIS therefore has four research areas:
handling and mooring
being integrated by the fifth area, new ship concepts. The PRODIS partners
work in one or more areas depending on their resources and expertise,
but all the partners have access to all the results. This is a key benefit
of thematic networks, and in this case it should play a major role in
ensuring the competitiveness of the European shipbuilding industry in
and hull structures
the topic of hydrodynamics, PRODIS has three ongoing projects. The
first, FLOWMART, is examining problems associated with the wake
of fast ships, including ways to limit the potential damage on coastal
environments without having to limit the speed of vessels.
new projects have just been approved for funding under the second
call of the EU's GROWTH programme. These are SEAROUTES, which aims
to optimise the routes followed by vessels in relation to various
parameters including the wake they generate, and SEA AHEAD, a project
designed to help ships' crews make good decisions in emergency situations.
the area of hull structures there are two projects. FASTHTS
is investigating the potential use of high tensile steel in fast
ships and was funded through the first call of the GROWTH programme.
A new project, HULLMON, is building on previous hull monitoring
research but taking advantage of the fact that sensor technology
has become much more sophisticated over recent years. It is therefore
now feasible to obtain wide-ranging information about the state
of the hull during voyages and to use this information to assist
the bridge crew in handling the vessel in a safe way.
shipbuilding industry has recently introduced a revolutionary new
propulsion system known as PODS in which the shaft has been replaced
by a bulb-shaped propulsion unit driven by an electric motor. The
only connection between the bulb and the ship is therefore electric
cabling. This design significantly reduces wake effects, and propulsion
efficiency is improved by as much as 10%. Two PRODIS projects are
dedicated to this new system. OPTIPOD is looking at the impact of
PODS on ship design and attempting to optimise the shape of the
INSERVICE is a support project for OPTIPOD and any other future
related research in that it is collecting data from the existing
POD fleet. At present Finland has four passenger ships and one ice-breaker/tanker
in-service using this new technology. The French company, Chantiers
de l'Atlantique has also just delivered a POD vessel called
Millennium - using two 20MW PODS, this vessel represents the largest
scale use of the technology to date.
addition to the POD work, there are two PRODIS project's dealing
with engine technology that are expected to have environmental benefits.
There is also a project called NORMA, led by Rolls-Royce, which
is investigating the noise and vibration characteristics of other
new propulsion systems including water jets.
the area of cargo handling, two projects have just received funding
under the GROWTH programme, one of which is concentrating on the
efficiency of crane operations.
integrating area, which draws on the results of all the other research
projects, is that of new ship concepts, and three projects are under
way. EFFISES is researching the potential of surface effect ships
- a new design in which the hull of the vessel rides on a layer
of air rather than the surface of the water. INBAT is a project
dedicated to the design of a new generation of inland waterway vessels.
the most important project from the viewpoint of wide-scale industry
benefit is VR-SHIPVRSHIPS-ROPAX 2000. This will be a virtual reality
demonstrator based on a ro-ro passenger ship which will enable the
PRODIS partners to showcase the potential application of all the
research results, and increase awareness and therefore utilisation
throughout the European shipbuilding.
and development targeting the European shipbuilding industry falls
under the Land transport and marine technologies
key action. EU funding combined with industry co-operation
is delivering positive results.
- Product development and innovation in shipbuilding (BRRT-98-5085)