Does the history of other industries show the path of the future?
For some time I have used the analogy that the marine industry is 30 years behind the automotive industry, which in turn is 30 years behind the aerospace industry.
To combat the obvious reply that 'this is just the way it is' and that there is no need to change, I had a picture of the McLaren Formula One pit in 1970 and also in 2002. Imagine telling the handful of guys working in a dusty garage on a car resting on what looked like 2 clothes driers with a single filament bulb hanging from the ceiling, that in 30 years time they would be working on a spotless tiled floor, with a carbon fibre lighting gantry and a machine to pre-heat the hydraulic oil before starting the engine.
(The aerospace guys probably already has that in the 1970's)
In Britain, the aerospace industry probably modernised into its current form in the 1960's, consolidating into a smaller number of manufacturers and implementing systems and standards that wouldn't be seen in car factories for 30 years. Similarly, by 1990 the cull of small British car firms seemed almost complete. TVR survived for many years and Morgan is an enigma. No longer do the Japanese admire the Longbridge workers for fettling parts on the assembly to make the fit.
At the moment I think aircraft and car production has weathered the current economic climate better than expected. Unfortunately some more boat yards are likely to close before things get better. Does history show the future for the marine industry?
Will a strong industry in the next decade consist of fewer boat manufacturers? Will they be using modern systems and practise? Will they be more efficient and profitable?
James Glover CEng, MIMechE, MRINA is the Technical Director of Dyena. He is a naval architect and design engineer with over 15 years experience in automotive, motorsport and high speed marine craft design.