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All knowledge of the world, it is the most important, are those who lead us to follow the evolution of our society, to see throughout history where we come from and understand where we are going. Of large industrial and technological innovations, we look at those that have shaped our world and change our ways of doing things.

Innovation as a concept plays an important role in society because it allows the realization of concrete projects by the learned knowledge. It is the vehicle that allows progress, and fundamentally improving our quality of life. Therefore, any development strategy cannot ignore the role that it plays in development and growth[1]. To ignore it would be a mistake.

According to the OECD, innovation is the process whereby new ideas are transformed into commercial success.[2] If according to this definition, the term ‘innovation’ is not synonymous with “R & D” since a large part of search results does never result in commercial success.

Innovation refers to new ways to the integration of technologies or production processes in order to improve the competitive position of a company. Achieving results is therefore imperative in any form of innovation. However, a company would not thus to stick to the original invention or product that it has itself developed. It can simply sell a product elsewhere or implement a business that has already been proven elsewhere in the world, shorten the interests of standby times be it commercial, strategic or technological model.

Why a text on maritime innovation? Because, despite the extraordinary impacts of the maritime on society economy and despite the extraordinary progress which she was the source, there is that its contribution is poorly known. Yet, she is omnipresent in our lives: the marine space occupies 71% of the surface area of the globe. maritime transport accounts for 80% of world trade by volume. [Finally, because maritime innovation may be a privileged instrument of a policy of economic development.]

The purpose of this document is to illustrate examples of innovations in the maritime sector by presenting them in a simple model that has been deducted from an analysis of different innovation projects. At the end of this article, we are launching the idea to build an index and the idea that is awarded to the Canadian and Quebec industries a maritime innovation awards.


How then the concept of innovation will apply to the maritime sector? For several years the maritime industry was fertile ground, especially due to global competition and the desire for companies to acquire market share and be more competitive.

Analysis of some projects, you can categorize different types of innovations in the maritime sector. This categorization may be useful for the development of a business model. One could summarize the process of maritime innovation by this equation:

Innovation = f (Adaptation, capacity, productivity, environment)

The text that follows takes the components of this equation by giving examples and illustrating new future applications or developing.


Shipping companies have sought to innovate to make compatible their facilities and equipment to new products.

For example, natural gas has been a vector of innovation in maritime transport. It is less polluting than oil or coal and could increasingly come to replace these sources of energy. In this regard, it constitutes an interesting market avenue.

Innovations and technological applications were needed along the “chain LNG” (supply, liquefaction of natural gas, regasification). Also, recent advances could revolutionize the transport of energy.

Therefore, some projects provide the offshore facility of floating storage and regasification (FSRUS) units that include the access points and gateways for lighter vessels.

There are also launch floating floating LNG liquefaction plants (floating and liquefaction of natural gas). These factories allow to exploit the resource cost more competitive than installed on land plants. Shell’s Prelude project which will be inked in 2017 to 200 km of the northern coast the Australia is the most spectacular of these projects.[3]

Include that natural gas is increasingly used for the propulsion of new ships, particularly in Europe, or it could become a standard for inland navigation.

Increase in volumes and capacities

Maritime businesses, on land and on sea, seek to increase their capacity to transport and treatment of the marchndises to meet a growing demand, and to achieve economies of scale. The different ways to get there are multiple: dimensions of vessels increases, dredging, expansion of terminals.

However, several interesting innovations were made in connection with the Organization of port sites and access vessels.

For example, the concept of port sites has evolved and converges towards that of an operator that manages not one but several sites port, and on larger spokes. This network organization allows to build on the complementarity of the various sites, and so to increase overall capacity of the goods.

This type of organization prevails especially for the use of very large vessels and requires the establishment of ports of transhipment. These are necessary to redistribute the goods to sites or larger vessels can access. This network structure implies the development of partnerships to ensure the complementarity of the sites.

We could expand this concept to the concept of ‘gateway’ which is basically based on the principle of coordination of the policies and transport activities in a particular region in connection with investments in railways, road network and the implementation of intelligent transport systems. The objective is to consider the transport network as a whole and not as the sum of the parts.

Increase in productivity

The increase in productivity is more more an alternative to problems of capacity, particularly due to the scarcity of the land, congestion or the sometimes prohibitive costs of certain types of projects. In the case of port sites, significant investments made in road and rail access and channels at the level of the Organization’s work to increase productivity.

Other means are also possible. For example, the development of intelligent transport systems (i[4]t[5]s) integrate technologies telecommunications advanced optimization software. These systems increases the efficiency of operations, facilitate decision making and allow the setting up of new production methods.

Ashore, they allow to better organize in space and time the goods (differential global positioning systems), manage inventories and optimize hours of work with all the partners. Also, significant advances were made to automate operations, including for the storage and use of shore cranes.

In this regard, the speed of handling is a key element in the competitiveness of the port companies and ensures the competitive positioning. It is in handling the loss of time imposed on shippers are the most important.

Sea, the TSI covers a large variety of applications. Installation of sensors on board ships to better track the routes and the behaviour of vessels, to facilitate navigation, surveillance of the movements, the motorization, picking the energy data. Systems more advanced GPS and software to view activities, not only for the crew of the vessel, but also for the owners of the coastal zone, their operations centres.

Furthermore, it seeks increasingly to automate operations on ships. This allows to avoid human error (main causes of accidents) and reduce the direct and indirect costs related to the workforce as accommodation, security and insurance, and also to fill labour shortages. Several project research is currently underway on this issue. [6]

The environment

The efforts made for the protection of the environment are one of great pride for the marine industry. More than for all other industries, marine industry has managed to integrate its development the principles of sustainable development.

Environmental issues are complex and cover several aspects. For example, the session management risk, a ubiquitous dimension, is as much about prevention and management of events when they are happening, also on sea than on land: mechanical damage, accidents, injuries and loss of human lives, spills or leaks, an explosion. In addition, mitigation measures are essential and aim to reduce nuisances such as noise, pollution of air and water, and Visual environment. They speak of interventions and specific strategies on the part of the port authorities. Finally, social acceptability aims to take greater account of the concerns of the citizens in the operationalization and promotion of investment projects. It is today almost impossible to make the promotion of a particular project without the implementation of a plan of social acceptability.

To better manage these environmental aspects, the maritime industry has an innovative tool that can be recognized in the Green Alliance. [7] It is a not-for-profit organization established by the industry itself whose purpose is to encourage businesses to implement concrete and measurable steps to reduce its environmental footprint. The organization provides a program of voluntary environmental certification for North American marine industry. Participants are shipowners, ports, terminals, the corporations of the Seaway and dockyards.

The Alliance promotes several environmental innovations and many Quebec enterprises have been recognized by this Organization:

  • the new ship of Fednav, Federal Biscay, equipped with on board a wastewater treatment system of ballast to prevent contamination of the waters of the Great Lakes;
  • the port of Cleveland sells from sediments from the dredging of the Cuyahoga River for construction of a road interchange project;
  • multi-project construction ships propelled natural gas, of which those of the Société des Traversiers du Québec (STQ).


These are just a few examples of innovations in the maritime sector. These initiatives, for the most part, come from the industry itself and must be recognized and encouraged, particularly by the Governments.

An index of maritime innovation could be built from a weighting on the four types of innovations documented in this article: adaptation, capacity, productivity and the environment. This index would allow a comparison between companies here and elsewhere and track their progress over time.

On the other hand, in order to better recognize the efforts companies, innovation price could be attributed. Such prices already exist at the international level. For example, the international transport Forum of the OECD, an intergovernmental organization of the transport sector which has 54 member countries awarded such a prize of innovation management Corporation of the way St. Lawrence Seaway for the first system in the world of hands free (AML) mooring. [8] [9]


Louis Bellemare


The new World Maritime



[1] Note: Joseph Schumpeter, Wikipedia, https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_cr%C3%A9atrice

[2] Note: Process of creative destruction, Wikipedia, https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_cr%C3%A9atrice

[3] The PRELUDE of LNG FPSO project marks a new step for SHELL and TECHNIP-SAMSUNG consortium. Europetrole. http://www.euro-petrole.com/Le-Projet-prelude-d-unite-flottante-de-Gnl-marque-une-nouvelle-Etape-pour-shell-et-le-Consortium-Technip-Samsung-n-f-4024

[4] Logistics terminals port containers. C. IV. comparative analysis of the use of intelligent transport systems between ports on the coast is Canadian and sports from the rest of the world, c. IV.

[5] Note: The TSI dedicated to the transport of goods are traditionally grouped in two groups (advanced systems for the operation of commercial vehicles (Commercial vehicle operation) and advanced systems for the management of fleets (Advanced Fleet Management Systems).

[6] Note: The MUNIN project is a consortium of 8 companies led by the Fraunhofer Institute German and coordinated from the Sweden. Searches are carried out on a new generation of vessels that will require a complete overhaul of the keel to the bridge. Hopefully within the next 20 years be able to according to the fleets of autonomous vessels. These vessels allowing thus a larger margin of manoeuvre in the event of collision avoidance while greatly reducing fuel consumption.

[7] Green Alliance, http://allianceverte.org/

[8] Network of the Great Lakes and of the way Maritime du Saint-Laurent, http://www.greatlakes-seaway.com/fr/nouvelles/communiques-de-presse/pr20150522.html

[9] Note: The AML system uses a suction cup sliding on vertical rails

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