This is the second part of my takeaways from the SNAME Maritime Convention 2018. In the first part of the blog series Shipping, Navies and Class are Driving the Transformation I mainly focused on how we are evolving our thinking and progressing in defining our business. This is by understanding what each company’s business goals are and the value they can deliver to their customers which can be a different value than they are providing to their customers today. At the heart of this is with a digital twin / digital ship strategy where there are some significant ways in which everyone can deliver value that separates them from the others.
In this post I will be talking about software platforms, legacy information and implementing technology.
Software & Platforms
I have to say it was refreshing to hear shipyards and even other software vendors talking about the need to connect systems and platforms from multiple vendors. The days of searching for the unicorn of a single platform that can do it all is behind us. The future that everyone is moving towards is a platform of platforms ecosystem (multi-platforms) where each of the platforms in our enterprise architecture connects (links, consumes, distributes, syncs, etc.) with other platforms. This will be the only way we will be able to create an enterprise technology stack that is resilient and adaptable for our future unknown business needs.
There were some great software demonstrations about leveraging information from various systems and platforms. I did like InnovMarine’s presentation and demonstration where they leveraged information from various systems and provided a visual experience via a mobile environment.
Also, I appreciated the presentation from Auros which focused on an NSRP project where they integrate directly into ShipConstructor to provide “knowledge” or guidance to the user on the specific task they are doing. What I liked is that it was interacting with multiple systems, but the user experience was native to what the user is using. That means the user does not even know they are using multiple systems. This type of integration where users will not know where one application ends and another one starts is definitely the future.
I suspect we will continue to see more integrations across various platforms and vendors which will connect the data seamlessly and transparently to the user at various stages of the lifecycle.
I had some questions from people who are trying to figure out how to take the first step into the digital world and wanting to know where to start. Their questions were mostly about how to convert all the legacy data (2D PDFs) that they have received from their several subcontractors over the multiple years the ship has been in service.
My first comment was if it is decided that 3D information is important, why not start by asking for 3D information now from your subcontractors? Why try to figure out the harder problem which is hopefully not going to be a problem in the future if they start asking for 3D information?
Either way there was a good presentation discussing how you can use the data you have now to build a 3D-ish model, at least for reference. You start by putting the 2D PDF at 1:1 scale on the section plane (frame, longitudinal, deck, skewed, etc.) in 3D. This will build the “shape” of your ship. You can use AutoCAD commands to extract the toolpaths from the 2D PDF of the general geometry to give you a decent view of the structure and compartments. Then, using laser scanned data from the ship checks you can place them in the correct 3D location using the 2D PDF placed in the right 3D location/plane. Next you can use your favorite CAD tool (let’s just choose ShipConstructor?) to create parts using the 2D PDF and laser scan data as reference.
I have been told about this workflow before, but this was the first time I saw it in action and it seems like a really good hybrid strategy.
New Implementation Strategies
Happy to see that Agile is becoming a common term used in our industry. There were some discussions that people did not believe in agile mostly because they have had a project which said there were doing it “agile” and it failed miserably.
Just after a few questions it became clear that they were not actually using agile; they were just using all the agile terms. This is really common in our industry because there is so much marketing buzz around being agile that everyone can talk the talk, but few walk the walk.
The main reason Agile works for implementing business, software and technology is because of the value proposition which is completely different from the value the user gets from a ship.
With a ship, the value for the owner is the entire ship. If you only build 1/4 or 1/2 or 3/4 of a ship it has no value to the end customer. Technology and business implementations are completely different. You can provide a small piece of your entire project and it can add tremendous value by itself. This difference in the value proposition means that we need to have a completely different mindset when we implement technology than we do when we build ships.
Providing continuous and frequent value to your business with the ability to adapt is at the heart of Agile. Agile is the most effective way for us or any industry to implement technology or make significant business changes including culture.
It is important for us to have an enterprise architecture that will be able to support all current and future activities, especially the ones that we do not know yet. A platform of platform ecosystem is what everyone is finally moving towards which will require all our software to be able to communicate as a 1st class citizen with other platforms.
We all have been in business for a long time and there is a lot of legacy data, mostly in 2D PDFs. Converting it to our current rich native 3D model might not be worth it; however, there are strategies where you can leverage your current data to provide a good reference/staging environment for all future work.
Building ships is complex. Implementing technology is not more complex nor less complex, just different. We need to have a completely different mindset when implementing technology vs. building a ship because how the value is delivered to the user. Agile methodologies align naturally with how we need to implement technology as well as our business strategies such as culture.