3D Printing in Ship Spares’ Supplies – Use Cases and Concepts Validation

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Source: unsplash, 3D Printing of fan propeller

Shipping is an asset-heavy industry and spares are the now topping crew wages as second most costly expense line item only after fuel and lubricating oils. You guessed correct, crews are being reduced through automation, systems, process cull and lengthier times /rotation.

Ship Spares’ Supplies are technical department’s domain and rightfully sound dull and, ah.. yes technical. So why the search for the yet another disruptive and novelty approach in there?

Cost increase of Technical maintenance. For a start, ship spares are supplied for both scheduled maintenance and ad-hoc (e.g. breakdown). These days, however, with the already mentioned reduced crews, there are only fewer people to repair en route, limited expertise and there is that general propensity on the shipmanagers and shipoperators’ side to lean on the modular concept of replacing the dysfunctional or underperforming node, rather than repair or tolerate subperformers.

The real risk, similar to all means transportation, is that a faulty part on a ship can compromise safety, endanger crew, passengers, and visitors, cause slow speed, blackouts, and breach of operations or ships machinery – that could be navigation, steering and mooring gears, hatches, cranes, manifolds, electrical etc.

The less painful and all too often consequence of a short spare is a delayed ship or even off-hire, but it could get worse when she’s on the high seas.



Different models are used to provision optimal spares flow. (1) Partner with OEMs (e.g. MAN), (2) work with a trader (Wrist) or (3) skim a platform (ShipServ). There are models that add machine learning, predictive maintenance or other algorithmic approach to stocking spares and maintaining supply network. In a nutshell, all the spares’ supply ‘science’ boils down to weighing acceptable trade-off between maintenance budgets and risk mitigation. Supply Chain hassles did not spare the flow of ship spare. A ship has a million parts from thousands of manufacturers. Those combinations in turn can be sourced, serviced and supplied by different intermediaries (traders). This complexity is adding risk and costs. Invoice price is just one part out of many considerations. ‘Technical’ needs to consider availability, production and delivery lead times, convenience ports to take delivery and if doable to schedule repair or installation, how to to about the delivery logistics, documentation, certifications, etc. formalities.



3D printing for Ship Spares.

Below is a ‘select two’ listical to offer a perspective on how 3D / additive can address the current issues in ship spares supply, albeit out of the box. A a Diversified Shipping Group (Wilhelmsen) with a strong propensity for innovation and a Marine Equipment Manufacturer (Navantia) both do additive manufacturing to solve for the distant supply base, make on-request, when requested and and in requested quantities.



Navantia (Grupo Sepi) along with the University of Cadiz and Lloyds Register ventured 3D for crafting cabin furnishings under the pilot projects AdiBuque (Additive Ship in compact translation) and 3DCabins. Navantia is directly related to shipbuilding and opts for 3D still at the project design and then at installation phase. The pilots enable early identification of which parts, materials and at what building and furnishing stage are doable with 3D / additive. The perfect concept proof with a real world installation / example. Not only is the Navantia early project already a real world but the communication emphasizes the ambition to make additive part of the mainstream shipbuilding. Still another pilot – 3D on Board, links additive to likely production of parts for machinery and navigational equipment while en route – that’s straightforward visionary and absolutely merits more of an attention and then respect. Luck to the Navantia team and efforts!about:blankEmbed URLPaste a link to the content you want to display on your site. Expansion article on Navantia .

Wilhelmsen Wilhelmsen  is a large and diversified shipping group, with a  knack for innovation, when it pays out (see DeGould ) .

Company teams with thyssenkrupp for the 3D JV (project also bears the telling title  Venture | 3D Printing ). Full 3D, project brief, Wilhelmsen company site, with clippings and C-level communication  on both sides of the JV. Wilhelmsen project is focused on parts and components, and intuitively spreads over company’s large enough affiliated consumption base of the 3000 ships the group operates. Given materials subject matter expertise of thyssenkrupp and the operational upper hand of Wilhelmsen, this is definatly one to watch. The potential benefits are all there – costs, efficiencies, response time, on-demand units of production (batch calibration), lead times, formalities. The project rollout is spiced with a drone delivery of an early spare on an offshore vessel. Scale is definitely to good use here. It takes one to make some.



Ultimately, the  DNV angle to Wilhelmsen venture, if only to illustrate a register’s active involvement in this order and type of project.about:blankEmbed URLPaste a link to the content you want to display on your site. DNV, 3D .

Academic guidance on Spares SC modelling:

Additive mfg of Ship Spares:

How to optimize OPEX

How owners can reduce OPEX

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