To further its innovation strategy, DCNS has set up DCNS Research. The initiative reaffirms the Group’s determination to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading innovators in naval defence and energy.
DCNS Research brings together all Group activities involving technological research. Technological research builds on basic research and theory to yield applications vital to the design and development of new products and services.
With facilities at the Group’s Nantes and Toulon centres, DCNS Research currently comprises 120 highly qualified engineers and technicians and will expand over the coming months. The new entity will focus on the main areas of technological research applicable to naval defence and energy, including hydrodynamics, materials, structures, acoustic discretion, electromagnetism and algorithms.
Topics under investigation include:
- swell motion forecasting using hydrodynamic models and their contribution to UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) deployment from warships
- improved understanding of the behaviour and reliability of warships in all sea states and applications to improve crew safety and environmental protection
- smart materials combining structural strength and stealth along with antenna and other capabilities, to replace multiple components using a variety of materials
- long-term properties and performance of large wind turbines and resistance of floating turbines to marine environments.
“Given that we aim to double Group revenue over the next ten years, innovation is as vital to customer satisfaction as it is to maintaining our competitive advantage. We are thus determined to maintain our leadership in this area. The decision to set up DCNS Research is a key element of our proactive innovation policy, which is driving progress not only in engineering but also in our sales force and production and service teams,” said Patrick Boissier, Chairman & CEO of the DCNS Group.
Innovation is in the Group’s genes. DCNS breakthrough technologies – including the first stealth frigate and the first automatic recovery of a UAV by a vessel under way – have consistently proved industry leaders. One even featured in a James Bond movie. Each year, the Group spends some €200 million on R&D, or around 8% of total revenue.
DCNS also leads in technologies in vastly different areas, including:
- a range of advances to ensure that nuclear-powered submarines displacing over 18,000 tonnes remain undetectable in their underwater environment and that frigates measuring over 100 metres in length return smaller radar echoes than trawlers
- expertise in electron-beam welding enabling production teams to join ten-centimetre-thick plate steel or titanium without modifying the plate’s properties
- virtual and augmented reality design aids that enable customers to test future warships before they are built
- combat management systems (CMSs) enabling warships to simultaneously track 2,000 moving targets in real time, whether in the air, on land or on the sea
- the innovative SwimScan system that can electronically map the thickness of a submarine’s hull to within 0.1 mm to give early warning of corrosion problems while reducing the time needed to survey an entire submarine hull from ten months to just seven days.
- the first 10 MW prototype plant in the world for the production of an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion system exploiting the temperature difference between warm surface water and cold water from depths to produce electricity 24 hours on 24 and 7 / 7.
The Jules Verne Technological Research Institute
DCNS has played a key role in the development and promotion of the Jules Verne Technological Research Institute project and is pleased that it has been selected as one of six similar institutes (known as IRTs) to receive funding from the French government’s grand emprunt (or large loan). The Jules Verne Institute will focus on technologies contributing to the improved design and production of complex structures in areas ranging from aerospace and naval engineering to the automotive and energy sectors. DCNS Research will be the centrepiece of DCNS’s contribution to the IRT.
The project is supported by leading industrial firms in several sectors (including Daher, DCNS, EADS, PSA and STX), universities and engineering schools in Nantes and environs (École Centrale de Nantes, Université de Nantes, etc.) and French national and regional government entities. The Institute’s R&D budget will be co-funded by government bodies and industry and is expected to approach €500 million over a period of ten years.