It is not quite common knowledge that as at 2018 Malaysia has more than 100 shipyards and close to 200 SBSR industry-related activities. These include a myriad of activities such as marine parts and component manufacturer, maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) and design works among others. It is proving to be pretty lucrative deal too with the average annual turnover for the industry chalking between MYR 5 to 10 billion since 2011. At its peak in 2011 the industry provided in excess of 33, 000 jobs.
The Malaysian Shipbuilding and Ship Repair (SBSR) industry’s humble beginning is rooted in the establishment of the Brook Dockyard in Sarawak some 100 years ago. Since then the industry has grown to be a highly strategic industry having spurred the development of numerous spill-over and support activities in fisheries, oil & gas, port operations as well as tourism.
Fully realising the potential of the industry in expanding the nation’s economy MIGHT has produced the Malaysian SBSR Industry Strategic Plan 2020 advocating the use and adoption of high technology products and processes in Maritime industry. Moving ahead, the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, 3D Design and 3D Printing promises to create new opportunities especially for local players. The SBSR industry is also to be developed as a promoted industry as outlined in the Malaysia Shipping Master Plan 2017 – 2022.
There is no underestimating the criticality of technological advancement in the SBSR industry to national security. Currently, Malaysian government is in the midst of acquiring 6 Littoral Combatant Ship, 2 Littoral Mission Ship, 3 Offshore Patrol Vessel, 6 New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC) with the latest being the acquisition of the 18 Fast Interceptor Craft for the Royal Malaysian Navy and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. These procurements are worth over MYR11 billion.
It is imperative that the local content element of these procurement exercise be paid particular attention to as it holds immense potential to boost the local economy, mainly through job creation, skill strengthening, and the enhancement of suppliers and local enterprises development. This also applies to the commercial sector for example offshore support and port operations.
MIGHT greatly encourages maximisation of local content through industry localisation for example through local ship design and building. This also encourages in-house technological capabilities development through integration of local processed raw materials, production of equipment, integration of equipment and fitting, and provision of technological expertise in services such as system integration, fabrication, overhaul, modification and upgrading.
In terms of design, it is vital for local SBSR industries to adopt the complete 3D Design System which allows for the development of the Digital Twin. This will integrate with and maximise local content that complies with the specification, quality and classification requirements in the design stage.