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HHI Group dives into robot hull cleaning market with Tas Global

South Korea’s No. 1 shipyard group Hyundai Heavy Industries has unveiled a plan to lead the global underwater ship hull management market that is expected to burgeon amid growing interest in vessel hull cleaning from the global industry-wide campaign for zero-emission and eco-friendly solutions.

Hyundai Global Service Co. under Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Group is working on the development of robotics hull cleaning solutions jointly with local underwater cleaning robot developer Tas Global Co. to commercialize it next year, according to industry sources on Wednesday.

Tas Global has developed the world’s first hull cleaning robot system, the only solution for curved surface cleaning using underwater cleaning robots. The two companies have carried out joint research for maintenance and cleaning of ships for more than a year.

The partnership came amid growing interest in vessel hull cleaning following the global-wide efforts to reduce carbon emissions and protect environment.

A well-known issue in vessel operation is hull biofouling, the accumulation of marine growth on a ship’s hull that results in reduced vessel speed, increased bunker consumption and carbon emissions, and expanded cleaning costs.

The shipbuilding industry estimates losses from hull biofouling would reach an average 2 billion won ($1.7 million) per year for a 300,000-ton vast large container vessel, which means global container carriers with a fleet of many large vessels would lose an estimated 1 trillion won or more a year.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) now is seeking to launch a project to address the hull biofouling program by 2023.

Under the jointly developed solution, Hyundai Global Service measures the accumulation level with a smart, AI-based system and notify it to the carrier. Then the carrier decides whether to receive the robot cleaning service.

The traditional human cleaning service requires five to six divers, and it takes about four to five days with a cost of 50-60 million won. Worse is the safety accident that happens quite a few.

But with the robotics solution developed by the two, cleaning could take only one day at one-tenth of the current cost, Kim Yu-sik, CEO of Tas Global, said in his phone interview with Maeil Business Newspaper, expecting that the global robotic hull cleaning market would grow to 5 trillion won in a few years from current 1 trillion won.

Hyundai Global Service and Tas Global have already completed the new solution’s demonstration and now are planning to provide underwater robot hull cleaning service for 30 vessels from next year.

Hyundai Global Service last year earned 960 billion won in revenue last year versus 240 billion won in 2017. This year’s revenue is estimated to reach above 1 trillion won.

Shares of Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings, the holding entity of HHI Group, closed 0.51 percent lower at 58,700 won in Seoul trading on Thursday.
Source: Pulse

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