This month, SWZ|Maritime presents a special on digitalisation. A deliberate choice, as we acknowledge digitalisation as one of the key starting points of innovation. For practically every innovation, digitalisation of processes and data is crucial.

According to the website ResearchGate, the digital economy is the most important engine of innovation, competitiveness and economic growth in the world. In other words, if shipbuilding and shipping want to keep on being part of a growing economy, they have to digitalise or become obsolete.

Like Roel de Graaf, Director of Dutch trade organisation Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT) said in a podcast on the NMT website: ‘when shipbuilding in the Netherlands wants to survive, we have to do it smarter than the rest of the world, as we will never be cheaper’, and: ‘The power of Dutch shipbuilding is innovation and we will have to keep on innovating with sustainability and digitalisation as the two leading themes.’

But what is digitalisation and digital transformation? To gain some insight in all the different technologies, one should start by reading the overview our colleague Annelinde Gerritsen provides in her introductory article. On behalf of the editorial board, she took on the task of coordinating this issue.

And this special would not have come about without the contributions of Herbert Koelman and his PhD student Sietske Moussault, Emiel Koelman, who works on data analysis for shipowner Anthony Veder, our colleague Martin van Dijk together with Meeuwis van Wirdum from CoVadem, Bram van den Boom from Techbinder, Cees Verkerk from Shipbuilder, Stephan Procee, lecturer at the MIWB and our new colleague Ed Verbeek with his interview with Øssur Hilduberg.

At our last editorial meeting (of course online), several other articles already emerged on this matter. So digital transformation will be a returning subject in upcoming editions. Knowledge institutes like MARIN, TNO Maritime & Offshore, TU Delft and more and more also the educational institutes like STC and the MIWB prove to be at the base of developing maritime knowledge and technologies.

Yet, on behalf of all the Dutch people that depend on the maritime industry for their income, politicians and government have to understand that knowledge will survive just until the last ship is built. So start ordering ships now to help our shipbuilding industry through this pandemic!

This is Editor-in-Chief Antoon Oosting’s editorial accompanying the October “Digital transformation” special. Read the full issue online here.

Picture: The recently delivered Krios built by Royal IHC is one of the largest cutter suction dredgers in the world (SWZ|Maritime’s October 2020 cover picture by Flying Focus).