Founded in 1919, Greenbrier Gunderson Marine has been building vessels in Portland, Oregon for more than a hundred years. With over 2,000 vessels built in that time and many more on order, Greenbrier needs to consistently improve its processes throughout the lifecycle, minimize costs, and meet contractual deadlines every time.
Now, the company has embraced automation to accomplish more with fewer resources and remove manual intervention as the process bottleneck. Already an SSI ShipConstructor user, Greenbrier turned to SSI’s EnterprisePlatform information integration solutions to ensure their project data flows freely and automatically from design and engineering to production and procurement.
As in most shipyards that have not embraced digital-first processes, sharing design and engineering information with production and purchasing involved a lot of manual effort and repetitive tasks at Greenbrier. Each time 2D drawings or other information involves human interaction, the risk of error compounds.
With many different systems already in place within the shipyard, most of the manual effort is spent determining the best formats and settings to use for exports and imports. Even when standard file formats are used, setting up data correctly to ensure it can be used downstream is a constant challenge.
To effectively use the data and information generated in the design and engineering process, there needs to be an easy way to move information around the shipyard. This data is contained in disparate platforms that, until recently, were never developed with the intention to make it easy to import or export information to other platforms.
As Greenbrier continued to implement digital tools, the teams there faced this same challenge. The technologies were meeting short-term needs, but in order to be sustainable for the long-term, the information generated from these tools needed to be integrated from design through to production.
While Greenbrier recognized the opportunity to get more value from their project information, the implementation of any improvement could not disrupt ongoing projects. Similarly, any digital initiative needed to be targeted to fit the specific needs of the shipyard.
Greenbrier has been using SSI ShipConstructor since 2003. Their team wanted to use an industry-standard, shipbuilding-specific solution that fit the needs of their shipyard and saw ShipConstructor as the right tool.
With ShipConstructor in place, Greenbrier’s approach was to then incrementally implement the automation and integration capabilities of EnterprisePlatform to streamline structure and production scheduling and distributed systems and purchasing.
“Utilizing EnterprisePlatform InformationHub and ProjectScheduler has given us the ability to drive part procurement and production scheduling from the MIM reliably and efficiently. This automated approach has allowed SSI software to interface with more aspects of our business which dramatically increases our efficiency.”
Marine Project Supervisor, Greenbrier Gunderson Marine
Structure and Production Scheduling
In terms of structure and production scheduling, a key focus of the initiative was to establish a routine that could be relied on by the shop floor day in and day out. A daily extraction of information from the bill of material (BOM) inputs into the new .csv file, which the ERP system imports on a schedule. Then, the Product Hierarchy driven information is used to create a production schedule. The foreman and production team use that production schedule as a source to identify the priority for the shop floor. The shop floor then uses the ERP, loaded with ShipConstructor data, to drive their processes.
Using the Product Hierarchy to drive the production schedule ensures the same information used to plan the vessel is used to build the vessel. Using a single source of information streamlines the workflow.
Distributed Systems and Purchasing
Greenbrier also needed a way for the designers and engineers to better communicate the status of a drawing downstream once they were done modeling. Using Drawing UDAs, the current status of a drawing is accurately captured. Nightly extraction of information captured in the drawings, done by EnterprisePlatform Publisher, would ensure that the latest information was always automatically available for use downstream. In this instance, the Publisher export would output information for pipe and equipment connections. This export was then parsed automatically into the ERP for use downstream.
Simultaneously, engineering would inform the planning department of what was complete at the point of modeling. This way, drawings and material procurement could be completed concurrently, with all parties confident in the latest status of the parts or drawings. Once the model was complete, the information was exported to the ERP system. Procurement and planning can pull the BOM right in from ShipConstructor, and already have access to it through the ERP system. The order could then be confirmed in the purchasing system.
Driving Shop Floor Machinery
Another area where Greenbrier identified an opportunity to better connect model information with the shop floor was with production machinery. The team looked at how they could take plate, profile, and pipe information from ShipConstructor and easily transfer that to the HGG cutting and bending machinery on the shop floor. Using the model data in this way was a game-changer, particularly for complex pipe-cutting tasks. It removed the need for a skilled worker to be solely focused on a single cutting or bending task.
Using PublisherLT, Greenbrier can easily extract all the necessary profiles in 3D DXF for nesting. Then, that information could be sent to the cutting machine using a pre-configured XML file. The integration removed the need to manually parse the profile data each time the machinery needed to be used. At the same time, the metadata on what panels had what nests was fed to the ERP system, giving the rest of the organization more visibility into production. The agnostic nature of the connection means that Greenbrier can implement the same process for all the production machinery they have at the shipyard, no matter what vendor it came from.
Extract Only What’s Needed
The strategy for implementing these processes was grounded in tailoring the information extraction specifically to the needs of Greenbrier’s processes. Crucially, at every stage, the automation or capture of information improved how a team or department can take advantage of work completed by another part of the shipyard.
By introducing automation to their processes, Greenbrier met its business objectives of lowering the risk of missed deadlines, errors, or unnecessary rework. They were able to accomplish this while also freeing individuals to focus on their core duties instead of manually generating data for export.
Adopting EnterprisePlatform fit with the needs of Greenbrier Gunderson Marine and made it easier to satisfy contractual requirements. “You could not walk around Greenbrier without seeing something touched by SSI information.” said Greenbrier Gunderson Marine’s former Marine Project Supervisor.
“You could not walk around Greenbrier Gunderson without seeing something touched by SSI information.”
Marine Project Supervisor, Greenbrier Gunderson Marine
As Greenbrier continues to move forward as a leader in digital shipbuilding, it is looking at how implementing the latest innovations can help meet its business goals. “Our ideal is getting away from 2D drawings entirely and delivering to the yard exclusively in 3D.” said Khristian Wright, Marine Project Engineer. “Drawings are where most of the errors come from, so we’re always looking at how we can become more model-based.”