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March 14, 2014
OffshoreShipbuildingTechnology
techtransfer

If you look at the distribution of design and engineering technology in the shipbuilding industry you quickly notice that specific areas, usually contained within national borders, seem to standardize on the same technology. For example, a very high percentage of the US shipbuilding industry uses ShipConstructor. Similarly TRIBON M3, and lately AVEVA Marine, have a stranglehold on South Korea. This pattern can be seen over and over again around the world.

Often this is positioned as the result of how well a specific product suits the requirements of that market, and there is some truth to that. The initial selection of the software at a number of lighthouse clients is performed based on how well the software meets that clients requirements and once the software becomes entrenched it is developed to meet the changing needs of that market. However based on our past experiences in the USA and our recent experiences in Brazil we see another mechanism that operates between those two milestones. And it is both a subtle and unstoppable force.

The soft resources, by that I mean people, in shipbuilding are one of the most transitory or migrant groups I have witnessed in any industry. They move from position to position, project to project and company to company more quickly and more often. And it’s no surprise that they take their skills, preferences and experiences with them. Especially in a market with a developing shipbuilding industry, one that has not yet standardized on a particular set of software, the tools that they have been successful with move with them.

In Brazil Patient Zero was Estaleiro Atlantico Sul. Likening the adoption of software to the spread of a virus is perhaps not the most favorable comparison, but bear in mind I’m talking about the way it spreads not the impact it has. They chose ShipConstructor in late 2007 for a number of reasons, however the single largest contributor to the decision was the speed at which they could find and train an engineering workforce. As those who were exposed to ShipConstructor at EAS, who now have credibility and experience on successfully delivering large scale shipbuilding projects in Brazil, moved to other organizations so did ShipConstructor.

In the US, a few key clients and their success with ShipConstructor – Bender Shipbuilding and Repair, Bollinger, Halter Marine, and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Avondale Operations (now part of HII) to name but a few – played a significant role in establishing SSI’s position in the USA. Here again this was at least as much because of the migration of people from those shipyards as it was from anything else.

It so often seems that people are both the most often overlooked and single most critical influencer of adoption of technology. This trend in our industry should serve as a reminder that this is as true with enterprise level shipbuilding software employed on capital projects as it is when discussing the latest trend in smartphones or other consumer electronics.

Post Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Very interesting. I wonder where SSI fearless founder – Rolf Oetter – would position his oft stressed mantra “USER INTERFACE is a primary driver of adoption” in this discussion? While this post indicates early adoption by lighthouse organizations based on particular primary considerations, (employee turnover in the case of EAS), Rolf’s point was directed more at the user adoption level and the intuitive ease of use. Where does this fit? I know Korea can generally be considered a top down decision making culture, while the US looks more to user/manager input when deciding on “tools”. How does this play in particularly where employee migration, training and speed to proficiency seem to be increasingly critical elements of success with such mission critical applications?

    1. Good question! I think these are all mutually compatible considerations. What Rolf was talking about, although the term wasn’t popular yet, was User Experience (UX). UX has a significant impact on initial adoption at any one client. It also is a key factor in user satisfaction. User satisfaction is critical in the context of this post as users have to be ‘infected’ with the ‘virus’ to carry it to other ‘hosts’.

  2. One of the key factors I have observed in Brazil is that CAD/CAM solutions that with small entry footprints can often get a foot in the door (pun apology here) via employee recommendation…By footprint size I mean the speed of implementation + training / user-adaption ramp-up curve + overall TCO (license cost / maintenance / system administration cost),

    On a level political playing field sometimes the challenging CAD/CAM tool can even displace existing slow moving and difficult to implement monolithic solutions…adaptable mammals versus slow moving dinosaurs springs to mind:).

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