, a UK engineering company known for its world-first innovations, is part of a European consortium developing pioneering technology for the shipping industry.
The firm is working with 12 other companies and organisations around Europe to develop underwater friction stir welding (FSW) technology to revolutionise the way ships hulls are repaired.
Partners from the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and Cyprus have started work on the RESURGAM
(Robotic Survey, Repair and Agile Manufacture) project which will introduce the benefits of high-productivity FSW technology on steel to shipyards around Europe.
It is the first time Forth, which has already been praised for its pioneering work developing an FSWBot for the maintenance and repair of pipelines, has worked on a European-wide project.
RESURGAM aims to change the way work and repairs on shipping is done by developing a portable underwater FSW robot which will make processes safer, faster and more cost-efficient than conventional welding.
Forth, with its expertise in FSW, is the technical manager of the project and will be developing the underwater FSW technology which will combine the latest developments in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and FSW techniques, to offer low-cost retrofit systems for modular fabrication and AI-enabled robotic repair of ships with the ability to work underwater and through oil.
This will enable responsive, remote, at sea repair anywhere in the world, which will have major advantages in safety, time and money compared to a current labour-intensive survey and repair approach which requires expensive specialist divers often working in hazardous conditions or for ships to spend costly time out of the water in dry docks.
RESURGAM will bring benefits to modular, multi-site construction of new build ships as well as mid-life retrofitting and modifications. It will also allow repairs to be performed effectively and efficiently in confined spaces.
Digital connectivity is also at the heart of the project to enable stakeholders to cooperate on modular production of high-tech ships and on the planning and implementation of ship repair, modification and maintenance.
Many European small- and medium-size shipyards and shipbuilders are currently not able to manufacture and maintain high-tech large ships due to the lack of adequate resources and capabilities including suitably sized dry docks.
RESURGAM will create global market opportunities for these European SMEs by delivering technologies that will enable them to be at the forefront of the industry.
Forth project manager Peter Routledge (pictured) said: “This is another first for Forth to be working with so many partners from around Europe on a pan-European project.
“RESURGAM enables the team at Forth to build on the expertise and innovation we have demonstrated on a number of recent projects, including FSWBot, and apply that thinking to help solve a problem for an industry as big as the global shipping sector.
“It is very exciting to think about the positive difference this technology will make, and we are fully focused, along with our partners around Europe, on delivering this transformational technological innovation.”
The consortium is coordinated by European Federation For Welding Joining and Cutting, based in Belgium, and includes: Technische Universiteit Delft (the Netherlands); TWI Ltd (UK); University Of Limerick (Ireland); University Of Lancaster (UK); Element Six (UK) Ltd (UK); Turkiye Gemi Insa Sanayicileri Birligi Dernegi (Turkey); Engitec Systems International Ltd (Cyprus); Aislamientos Termicos De Galicia Sa (Spain); STIRWELD (France); Forth (UK); Asociacion Cluster Del Naval Gallego (Spain); and NED-Project Sp Z Oo (Poland).
The €6 million euro H2020-EU project, which is being coordinated by the European Federation For Welding, Joining and Cutting, based in Belgium, has attracted €5 million euros of European Union funding. Work is due to be completed by the end of January 2024.