Even a smaller shipbuilding project is immense in scope and scale. Structural parts are fabricated and interim assemblies are constructed uniquely for that series of ships. Even within two ships in the same series, differences are more common than similarities.
For these reasons, the deliverables a shipyard requires are numerous, complex, and specific to shipbuilding. Your organization’s design and engineering teams must be able to provide these shipbuilding deliverables and deal with the challenges that are unique to shipbuilders.
In preparation for the start of construction, or as the result of a change request, the engineering team needs to deliver a significant amount of information to the rest of the shipyard.
- What does the yard need?
- When do they need it?
- How should it look?
These are the questions the experienced members of a successful organization have developed answers to over many years.
By capturing the experience and knowledge of the most experienced team members through rules, shipbuilding best practices, shipyard standards, and templates so that everyone can benefit – long after those team members have moved on – it becomes possible to future-proof processes. That captured knowledge is automatically used to generate drawings, 3D virtual walkthroughs, production aids (templates and jigs), as needed.
Unlike in many other types of construction, where the pieces used to assemble a final product are generally purchased, shipbuilding requires the fabrication of most individual parts. For a shipyard to be successful, it needs more than just construction drawings. The right information needs to be in place to feed all the machines, robots, and processes used to fabricate those parts.
Due to the complexity and scale of shipbuilding, the types of information required to properly feed machines and processes are varied and specific to our industry. This includes information to allow humans, robots, and machines to perform:
- Marking of various types
- Forming and more
Generating and managing what is required for fabrication along with the other deliverables demanded by the rest of the shipyard, requires shipbuilding specific solutions. The best modern shipbuilders demand a repeatable, standardized manufacturing process that can be optimized over time. A large series of ships rarely consists of more than 5-10 vessels. As a result, a shipyards processes must be applicable to any type of ship they build and be optimized quickly.
Once individual components and parts have been fabricated, they need to be assembled. In a modern shipyard this process resembles the assembly of any other product, but at a much larger scale. The biggest difference is that the exact sequence of assembly seen any moment will only ever occur once.
Planning and coordinating the sequence of pieces, panels, sub-assemblies, and assemblies with the space, machines, people, and processes to be accomplished is extraordinarily challenging. Keeping an accurate view of what has been done and what is yet to be done is critical to the success of a modern shipbuilder, especially when a change needs to be made.
Driving assembly from the core of engineering, planning, and visualizing each stage of assembly, and being sure that everything will be where it needs to be, when it needs to be, allows for an increased focus on assembly. An organization can rest assured that one of the biggest headaches of this stage will become manageable – change. Built-in feedback loops from production to engineering as fabrication, welding, and assembly proceed ensure that any team can easily determine the impact of change. With the confidence that all information required to implement a change is delivered without fail, every ship, no matter if it’s unique or the last in a series, can be delivered as efficiently as possible.
Taking Control over Build Information
At no point in a shipbuilding project’s lifecycle is more engineering information being used than during the build phase. At every step, information is being fed into workflows, processes, and machinery and being created through automated and manual outputs. Accurately being able to use that information, no matter where it came from, where it was stored, or in what format, is a key competency that your organization needs to get right.
The Digital Twin and Digital Thread frameworks that make it possible to store, link together, and understand the intent of digital information – across every lifecycle stage – are crucial to taking control over your shipbuilding data and information. Embracing these concepts gives organizations the ability to understand the intent behind every aspect of a project, improve the processes already in place, and make better decisions going forward.