The use of automated equipments is on a steady rise in Brazilian shipyards, which are looking to be more competitive and meet order demands.
A modernized production line is a necessity for the national shipyards in order to be internationally competitive and to honor contract schedules. Basically all the shipyards are investing in automation to a larger or lesser extent. At this point the Brazilian shipyard which has most invested in automated systems is the EAS shipyard (Estaleiro Atlantico Sul) at the Suape complex in Ceará, northeast Brazil. It is also the biggest shipyard in operation in the country and has a partnership with Korean shipbuilding giant Samsung Heavy Industries.
Atlântico Sul Shipyard covers an area of 162 million m², including a sheltered industrial area of 130 thousand m² and has the capability to process 160 thousand tons of steel per year. The shipyard includes a 400 meter long by 73 meter wide and 12 meter deep dry dock. Its facilities include two goliath gantry cranes, capable of lifting 1,500 tons each, two cranes of 50 tons each and another two cranes of 35 tons each. The wharf area of the Atlântico Sul Shipyard contains a 730 meter long outfitting quay, equipped with two 35 ton cranes. An additional 680 meter long quay is dedicated to construction and repairs of offshore platforms and also has a 35 ton crane.
The strategic location of the Atlântico Sul Shipyard is one of its competitive advantages, as the shipyard is located inside the Port Complex of Suape, in Ipojuca, a small city in the State of Pernambuco, in Northest Brazil. The location gives access and easy connection to the main navigation routes in the Atlantic Ocean and to 160 ports in all continents of the globe. The location is also privileged regarding the huge oil and natural gas production regions, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the West African Coast, along with the production areas in Northeast Brazil and further south, the vital Espirito Santo, Campos and Santos Basins. This location also helps to optimize logistics for input supplies and equipment.
The scale of such plant facilities allows for a substantial reduction in building times and places the shipyard in a distinct group of fourth generation shipyards, on the same level as the Asian plants, which today stand at the forefront of the shipbuilding industry world-wide.
Atlântico Sul Shipyard´s core production is focused on construction of tankers, container ships, bulk, and cargo carriers, among others, as well as offshore platforms.
The shipyard is highly automated and among other equipment it has four plasma cutting machines and one of the largest flat panel production lines in the industry, capable of producing six flat panels per day. The first Suezmax tanker from the original Transpetro (Petrobras´ sea transport subsidiary) order was delivered by EAS earlier this year. It is also the first out of a series of 22 ships that are already in their orders portfolio, along with the hull of the P-55 platform for Petrobras.
Other shipyards in Brazil are also investing heavily in automation and forming partnerships with leading international shipbuilders, we will also be looking other of the local shipyards in the future. It is important to note that the major challenge faced by all shipyards in Brazil is related to the shortage of qualified technical manpower and engineers to work the yards.
Photo courtesy of EAS shipyard