HHI, which is also the world's largest shipbuilder, has recently completed a year of testing of a robotic system that automatically shapes a vessel's 3-D curved surface at its shipyard in Ulsan, off Seoul, Yonhap news agency reported. The unmanned system is based on the Internet of Things and automation technologies, and is equipped with a high-frequency inductive heating system and a multi-joint arm, the company said.

As explained, the system will increase productivity by three times compared with man-made work, as well as improve the quality of the end product. The company expects the robot will save costs from 100 billion won (USD 92.3 million) to 200 billion won for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on its lifespan.

HHI has reported a widened loss through 2017, as part of the overall South Korean shipbuilding industry downturn in the last years, resulted from the 2008 global economic crisis, which minimized new orders and stressed the competition from Chinese shipbuilding market.

In September 2017, the company agreed with workers to establish a rotational paid leave scheme, amid decreasing rate in ship orders and industry downturn.

In view of these, HHI plans to add artificial intelligence and more sophisticated technologies in the coming years. The shipbuilder said in early January that it is targeting new orders of USD 13.2 billion worth within 2018, up 76% from last year’s USD 7.5 billion, in 2018.