Looking deeper

Translating to the Ship Design and Research Centre, the name Centrum Techniki Okrętowej S.A. (CTO) well describes the core activities of the company, which is highly respected and recognised in many different countries. CTO was first established in 1971 as a Polish state-owned enterprise by bringing together the former Central Design-Research Office of Shipbuilding Industry andthe Central Ship Design Office No. 2, on the decision of the Ministry of Heavy Industry. As such CTO became the successor to those earlier established design-construction and researchdevelopment divisions that had acted for the benefit of the shipbuilding and repair industry.

Having refined its position over the last 40 years, CTO is now a modern, multidisciplinary research and design centre, which continues to support the maritime industry, as well as the onshore sector. On the one hand the company performs continuously scientific research and development works, the results of which are implemented in different parts of the industry. This may include experimental hydromechanics, CFD simulations, structural mechanics like vibration and noise, FEM computations and environmental research. In addition CTO’s second fieldof activity covers the design, manufacture, and supply of technologically advanced products, such as research labs and facilities, and measuring equipment.

During the period of 2008 to 2011, CTO set-up and equipped a new complex of environmental laboratories, including fire testing and acoustic facilities, which substantially enhanced its research capabilities. Today, numerous tests are conducted in both laboratories which fulfill European standards and are accredited by the Polish Centre for Accreditation (PCA).

Over the last decade one of the most important parts of CTO’s activities has been the design and manufacture of research facilities and laboratory equipment. The company operates various large assets such as towing tanks and cavitation and subsonic wind tunnels, and as such has turned its hand to the design of such equipment itself. These structures are of significant importance to research centres in various sectors, including both maritime and land-based industries.

“As its name indicates, in the past CTO was focused on the shipbuilding industry, however with the evolution of the market we had to react and widen our profile. As such, we are now working for different branches of maritime industries including shipbuilding, ship repair, yacht building, the offshore industry, and renewable energies. We try to find any application of our capabilities, knowledge and resources in connection to the maritime industry and client problems with new products or innovations, or technical issues,” begins Leszek Wilczynski, director of R&D at CTO.

Given the background of CTO, the company has long supported its national industry in its trials and endeavors. In more recent years this has included the closure of Poland’s two largest shipyards, but in their place others have sprung up. “Currently in Poland there are more shipyards than before,” notes Leszek. “Of course these are smaller than those established in the 1950’s and 60’s, but are also more modern specialising in other types of ships aside from container vessels or bulk carriers. This includes offshore vessels, small ferries, chemical tankers, and multi-purpose ships.”

Although these developments are favourable, CTO’s capacity is still in excess of what the Polish market can absorb and therefore around 70 per cent of its work is exported to external clients. In this respect, the company’s presence at major international events such as this year’s SMM trade fair covering shipbuilding, machinery and marine technology, present vital network opportunities. This does not necessarily always mean through an exhibition stand though, as this year for example CTO will be active in a different way by walking and talking with potential customers.

Leszek elaborates on some of the different ways in which CTO is interacting with its different customer bases: “Within Poland there are mechanisms arranged by the state that allow for a combination of public money with research, and the number of enterprises and companies taking advantage of applying for state money for research is increasing. This approach is much more verified than our co-operation with foreign companies where we are working based on direct contracts. We are also quite active within European framework programmes, which is one of the ways in which we perform research work.”

CTO first became involved in such activities with the European Commission’s Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), which set out the priorities for the European Union’s research, technological development and demonstration activities in the period 1998 to 2002. Since this time, CTO has taken part in more than 30 different research projects. “Most of these works were within the maritime transport research area, so the FP5 was water-borne transport, then in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) it was surface transport, and for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) it has merged together with aviation so we have transport as a total.

“This is a good way of performing research because it is done in co-operation, even sometimes with our competitors for research facilities, and this enables us all to achieve more than we could alone. It’s also a good means of marketing for the business as it allows us to have direct contact with different enterprises or companies and to showcase ourselves,” describes Leszek.

Within such a wide field of activity, there are some issues that are focusing the attention of CTO, and others, more keenly. This includes major ongoing discussions surrounding the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI). “This energy efficiency has been a focus of our work for a number of years now,” confirms Leszek. “We have been a member of ITTC since the beginning of our activities, and our representative is present within the technical community that is currently engaged in EEDI issues. There are also some other developments that we see as approaching relatively slowly to date, but likely to accelerate in the future, such as LNG as a fuel in vessels, and new technologies in ship propulsion.”

In its present form CTO is owned by the state, but operated as a joint stock company with a single shareholder of the Polish ministry of Treasury. However it would appear that in the early part of 2013 the government will look to put the company’s shares up for sale, which is a source of uncertainty for the business. In terms of what CTO’s hopes are for this development Leszek reveals: “We hope to attract either a branch investor, or even a capital investor to the business. However a purely capital focus approach may not be best suited to CTO, as research is not necessarily profitable, it is the application of research that is the profitable part. The returns for making money on the research is usually much less than the benefits of this work are passed on to the end user or shipowner.”

Whilst the details of CTO’s long-term future are not yet set in stone, the business is continuing to operate as normal and is pushing forward with its strategic plans to widen its scope of application. “Internally we are seeing changes in the business as we look at how our knowledge and facilities can perhaps be used in different ways, so we are pursuing fields where we see application for our laboratories, personnel, skills and simulation programmes. If someone approaches us with a problem, first we consider if we can analyse it and derive a solution – only then do we consider which industry the client operates in, so we are putting a lot of effort into diversifying the utilisation of our skills.

“Most importantly in terms of our income at present is the design and manufacture of research facilities. This is providing stability to the business as these are long-term and large contracts, which help us to continue to attract experienced engineers into the company,” concludes Leszek.

Supports the maritime industries
Long expertise in research
Identifying new skill applications