SSI (ShipConstructor Software Inc.) congratulates Gibbs & Cox, Fincantieri and the rest of the Lockheed Martin Team on laying the keel for US Navy Littoral Combat Ship LCS 7, USS Detroit, on November 8, 2012. Reaching this milestone is a significant accomplishment and shows the ongoing success of all companies involved in the Littoral Combat Ship Freedom Class program.
In turn, Gibbs & Cox Chief Engineer Tom Schubert has also credited ShipConstructor software with helping build these innovative vessels.
Gibbs & Cox (G&C) is one of the oldest and largest independent naval architectural and marine engineering firms in the world, with a diverse staff of nearly 300 naval architects, mechanical, structural, electrical and ocean engineers, CAD designers and supporting staff spread out over six offices in New York, Arlington, Hampton, DC, New Orleans and Philadelphia. These offices have been involved with work on a variety of commercial and defense-related projects but G&C is perhaps best known for designing US Naval vessels. It is this involvement that led the company to first use ShipConstructor software seven years ago.
In the early 2000s, US middle tier naval shipyards such as Bollinger Shipyard and Marinette Marine (now Fincantieri/Marinette Marine), began adopting ShipConstructor en masse. Bollinger and Marinette were working on the first LCS in 2005. Consequently, Schubert notes, “…choosing it (ShipConstructor) was easy…since the mid-tier yards are a main segment of our market, it only made sense to standardize around that tool.”
In the last seven years, G&C has logged over 1.5 million hours of ShipConstructor experience across 17 major projects with up to 200 users utilizing the software at one time. During the course of G&C’s ShipConstructor usage, the company has found it ideal for supporting G&C’s business needs.
As an independent design and engineering shop, G&C has to be flexible and adaptable. Fortunately, ShipConstructor helps G&C accomplish this goal in multiple ways. First of all, there is the “familiarity and simplicity” of the user interface. Schubert notes that a detail design project requires a “fast ramp-up of designers” which can easily be supplied by the “large pool” of ShipConstructor users to recruit from. He says it is also easier to get new staff, “up to speed and at a reasonable level of productivity quickly because of the tools’ familiar user interface.”
ShipConstructor is also flexible in accommodating detail design information from other tools. Schubert says, “On a recent project, we successfully demonstrated the ability to integrate 3-D models from three different CAD platforms into an integrated ShipConstructor model, then redistribute the integrated model back to the other organizations for their use in design development of their respective portions of the project.” Capabilities like this are vital to an independent agency like Gibbs & Cox, working with different shipyards. So too is ShipConstructor’s multi-site collaboration features.
To be close to strategic players around the world, G&C has offices in multiple locations. This enables G&C to better respond to customers’ needs. However, that means that the 3-D modeling tool has to allow distributed work.
Schubert is pleased that ShipConstructor allows, “…the ability to have multiple locations work a design project, while maintaining configuration control over the model using the tools’ Split and Merge capability (now renamed WorkShare Project). At times on the LCS project, we had design work going on in two locations in parallel, with engineering review in a third, and waterfront changes implemented at the shipbuilder as a fourth location, all under configuration control through our established internal design control process and the flexibility of ShipConstructor.”
Above all perhaps, is the fact that G&C prides itself on providing high quality production packages to its shipyard clients who appreciate the output that ShipConstructor’s shipbuilding specific pedigree allows G&C to give them.
Schubert says, “Our shipyard clients prefer the tool over other more costly systems not only for its price point, but for its superior delivery of production information. The ability to extract accurate, useful production level drawings and computer-aided manufacturing information (nest tapes, pipe spools, etc.) is a direct benefit for the waterfront.”
SSI has also benefitted from its association with Gibbs & Cox and believes that the benefits of the relationship will grow stronger in the future.
SSI CTO Denis Morais notes that, “We have worked closely with G&C on various types of projects and they are also aiding our product development via their independent perspective. As an autonomous design agent, G&C is able to identify opportunities for improvement that are not tied to proprietary shipyard production practices but rather can be flexible enough to benefit the entire shipbuilding community. SSI highly values the G&C point of view and appreciates how G&C projects can be pointed to as successful case studies for various scenarios from new construction to repair and refit activities.
SSI CEO Larkins is also delighted that Gibbs & Cox has had such success with ShipConstructor. He says, “SSI is very pleased with our working relationship with Gibbs & Cox as it has unfolded over the course of the LCS Freedom Class project. We congratulate them and the entire Lockheed Martin LCS Team on reaching the historic milestone of laying the keel for LCS 7; and know that they will have many more successes in the future.”