It is something of an understatement to say that news from South Korea’s marine manufacturing base has not been particularly happy recently. The problems that have faced the country’s previously all-conquering shipbuilders are painfully well documented and it is fair to say that few countries have been impacted as heavily or as negatively by shipping’s global downturn.
For this reason, any good news emerging from this sector is readily seized upon. And some good news has been forthcoming of late, with a number of announcements by Hyundai Heavy Industries.
First the engineering giant announced that its Engineering and Machinery Division had signed a contract extending its two-stroke licence agreement with MAN Diesel & Turbo. This was in addition to the announcement that it had signed an amendment to extend its current licence agreement for another 10 years for the sale, manufacturing and servicing of WinGD low-speed marine engines.
Perhaps a more significant statement of intent, however, came in the announcement that the group will invest 3.1 billion dollars in R&D by 2021. This will include spending 1.8 billion in developing eco-friendly and smart ships, enhancing offshore engineering capability, and establishing smart shipyards.
Overall, this will mean that, in the longer term, HHI Group plans to spend 6-7% as a percentage of annual sales on R&D.
This is an impressive figure by anyone’s standard and clearly suggests that Hyundai in particular and South Korea in general intend to do what is necessary to get their shipbuilding base back where it belongs.