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KD Marine Design incorporated the latest AR, VR, and laser scanning innovations into their design workflow, significantly improving communication and information flow between them and the shipyard. 


The Underlying Challenge 

KD Marine were struggling to ensure that their shipyard partners had access to the right data, at the right time, and in a format that made sense. They had seen the benefits of new innovations internally and wanted to apply them commercially. When two separate projects came along, 11m survey boats for the South African Navy and a series of 35m crew vessels, KD Marine saw the opportunity to take advantage of the latest technology.  

The main challenges KD Marine needed to tackle were how to ensure that everyone was working with the latest information, identify a way to move past just using 2D drawings, and build a digital-first dynamic design workflow, rather than a static one. Any delay between when a client can review a product or request changes results in delays to the entire project. Solving these challenges mitigates that risk and means procurement and construction can begin sooner. 

AR has opened a lot of doors for us towards the future.

Keith Davies, CEO, KD Marine Design


Why VR, AR, and Laser Scanning for Shipbuilding 

Using these new innovations was the missing piece in the old workflow. With them, KD Marine moved beyond passing drawings over the wall and towards a low latency, almost live, process. The outcome was deeper integration between the design office and the shipyard, and a continuation of the move away from 2D in favor of 3D. 

Using AR

Augmented reality (AR) integration allowed KD Marine to introduce live data into their workflow process. It was the perfect opportunity to showcase the value of a digital twin to the yard and the depth of metadata that SSI can provide. After modeling the systems for the latest 35m crew vessels, KD used AR to overlay the systems inside of the hull. This gave the shipyard a clear picture of what went where, and how the drawings lined up with the physical space.

Using VR

Reviewing designs in virtual reality (VR) gives both the designer and the client an immediate sense of the scope, scale, and space of a design. Experiencing the vessel in this way gives the client a tangible grasp or how the design functions and what areas need to be revised. With VR, this review process can happen both earlier, and more effectively than before. Ultimately, this results in easier to complete change requests.

KD Marine is also incorporating VR technology in their training programs. The realistic nature of an immersive simulation makes for a more effective training program that translates better into the real world. The more detailed the training model used, the closer it can match reality. High-accuracy and fidelity handheld scanners can be used to scan complex physical parts that can be added to the VR model.

Laser scanning for shipbuilding

The complexity of modern projects means that there are many thousands of individual parts in even a small project. KD Marine realized that technology could be a powerful tool in ensuring that the as-built vessel matched the digital twin. Using a combination of handheld 3D scanners and SSI solutions, KD Marine:

  • Captured the as-built space of a recently constructed ship.
  • Imported the resulting point cloud into ShipExplorer.
  • Compared the scanned data with the finalized design from ShipConstructor.
  • Identified a number of missing brackets.
  • Reported the discrepancy to the shipyard.
KD Marine utilized DotProduct scanners on their latest project. Footage courtesy DotProduct.

As-built checks

We scan vessels after hot-works have been done. These scans are compared with the structure model of the vessel and it will quickly reveal if there are any structural irregularities, for eg. missing brackets or misaligned cut-outs. The same checks can be done after each system has been installed to verify routing.

These scans combined will serve as an as-built model of the vessel and are useful to track systems after they are covered with paneling. If one has a relation with the owner/operator of the vessel, one can easily guide them to where a system is installed when it needs to be reviewed.

Creating general arrangements

In instances where it’s necessary to create a general arrangement (GA) from scratch, rather than spending days measuring up a vessel, KD Marine will scan the vessel and model the GA from the scan. Where critical information needs to be represented without uncertainty, like the size and location of tanks, physical measurements are made.

Repair, refit, and upgrades

Modern vessels have a lifespan of decades, but many older vessels have limited digital information associated with them. Where it does exist, it can be in a legacy format. 3D scanners make it possible to digitally capture the current status of a vessel at any time. This is particularly useful when a repair or refit needs to be made.

For example, when a client is interested in replacing or upgrading a genset, scanning the foundation area gives the KD marine team a head start. The scan can then be used as a basis to model the structural changes required to accommodate the updated equipment.


Value of an Integrated Digital Environment 

What made it easy to use model data the way KD Marine wanted to was the open nature of ShipConstructor. Because it was easy to extract exactly what was needed, it was possible to iterate quickly and get value right away. The reality for so many ship designers and builders is that they want to implement new technologies into their workflows, but without an explicit request from a customer, it is normally difficult to justify the investment. When implementation can result in a ROI almost instantly, it’s easy to trial innovations and pass on the value to the customer, before they even ask for it.

One of my biggest takeaways has been the unequivocal confirmation that the true value in the software lies in deeper integration between the design office and the shipyard, and that we have to find ways to move beyond our traditional approach of ‘passing drawings over the wall’.

Keith Davies, CEO, KD Marine Design


Viewing the Future of Ship Design 

See first-hand the models that KD Marine is taking advantage of. The light weight of these models means it’s easy to update them on-the-fly and configure them to display exactly the right information. With the right information available, this AR visualization is useful in every stage: from planning to design, review, and construction.  

Full structure


About KD Marine Design

Since 2005, KD Marine Design has provided Marine solutions to maritime industries both locally, and globally from their Cape Town Offices. As a small-to-medium craft design firm, they design and produce vessels custom to operational needs whilst keeping the process efficient and cost-effective through using the latest technologies and insights at their disposal. With a dedicated and close-knit team of industry specialists, KD Marine Design offers services such as stability, performance prediction, sea-keeping analysis, finite-element analysis of composite structures, computational fluid dynamics, and sailing performance prediction.