The Philippines has been the fourth largest ship producer in terms of gross tonnage since 2010, the Department of Trade and Industry 2017 data reveals.
This requires the country to seriously deal with the shipbuilding and ship repair (SBSR) industry’s great potential and big challenges.
In this regard, the study being implemented by the Department of Science and Technology’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) has started to gain the interest and involvement of the SBSR industry stakeholders.
The DOST-MIRDC’s 2023 industry study is assessing the current capabilities of the industry on its significant role in economic building and its vast potential in better serving the requirements of the market.
In a dialogue DOST-MIRDC and DOST Region VII held in Lahug, Cebu City, on April 19, representatives from SBSR industry players, including the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Shipyard Association of the Philippines and the academe, provided insights on the status, requirements and potential direction of the industry.
The weak capability in design, the decreasing skilled human resources and the need for certification were among the most immediate requirements that were raised.
One SBSR player shared that the demand for ship repair is bigger than that for shipbuilding, but the industry “lacks support from the government.”
The biggest issue raised was building the industry’s capability to be able to serve the requirements of the domestic market.
The basic need is design, to which agreed Engr. Jacklyn Descartin, chairman of the Naval Architecture and Maritime Engineering at the University of Cebu Maritime Education and Training Center.
Descartin explained that the industry’s weakness in design is caused by lack of both software and hardware in training and educational facilities.
She said the university has produced graduates, who were taught manual drawing, but it is trying to catch up with the shift in technology.
“From basic AutoCAD,” she said, “the academe has improved the capabilities in design.”
She added that the problem is technology transfer, referring to the capability of using software in analyzing the results of the design and determining options on design flaws.
Marina representatives Vincent Cavalida, James Verallo and Noel Taliman agreed.
According to them, the various softwares they are using were acquired from abroad, and which give them insufficient technological training.
It was also raised that the issue is not the Filipinos’ lack of capability, but the lack of certification and dwindling number of skilled human resources.
Sky de la Torre of the Philippine Trigon Shipyard Corp. said the government should set up a center for the SBSR that consolidates all 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 will address the basic and most crucial needs of the industry players and will provide a high-impact intervention to the industry, he explained.
“This SBSR center will not require a huge space,” de la Torre noted.
He added that the Philippine Shipyard Association can provide technical people, while the local government unit of Northern Cebu can donate the land or property.
At the same time, as the DOST-MIRDC team carries out the industry study, a project proposal for another collaboration is being reviewed by its partners in South Korea.
Stemming from the success of the Mold Technology Support Center, an Official Development Assistance grant from South Korea, the project on capability-building in the SBSR industry is another partnership that may be implemented.
The DOST-MIRDC is the sole government agency mandated to serve the requirements and assist the metals, engineering and allied industries to achieve increased productivity and competitiveness.
The industry study being carried out by the DOST-MIRDC will not only serve to accomplish the center’s targets on information exchange services.
The center, with its close coordination with the South Korean project partners, the SBSR industry players, the academe, and the DOST VII, will play a significant role in the building up of technical capabilities.
While the industry study being conducted by the DOST-MIRDC will pinpoint the S&T needs of the SBSR industry players, it will define and establish the project framework so that the assistance from South Korean partners will be tailor fit to ensure the benefits will be felt, the market needs will be addressed, and full industry potential for growth and productivity will be achieved.
Image credits: DOST-MIRDC