SmartMarine 3D: Integrating Ship Design & Production
Igor Juricic Regional (EMIA) Business Development Manager Marine Intergraph

Designing and building ships is a complex process. It amounts to a synthesis of the owner’s requirements, international and national regulatory body laws and rules, technical and commercial feasibility and the shipyard’s capability. Furthermore, changes to one aspect of a ship design can have a significant impact on other aspects and disciplines; ship construction puts its efforts in getting it right from inception (design) and managing the whole product lifecycle.

The earliest stages of a ship or a marine asset acquisition analysis are mainly related to its strategic objectives in order to define which product will be able to maximize the profitability of the investment and decide whether to go for a new-building or a second-hand or converted or modified existing unit. In the design phase, all the requirements and needs defined in the previous conceptual-planning phase are collected and appropriate solutions are proposed in order to establish efficient configuration, shape, dimensions and other characteristics of the planned marine asset.

The design process obviously involves engineering activities where structures are defined and the components of the various systems are selected. Often conflicting aspects of the design are solved by iterative methods that are seldom covering the whole lifecycle, because of limited time, resources and adequate tools.

Now-a-days advancements in computer technology allow multiple and substantial design changes in a shorter time improving significantly the efficiency of the entire design-to-production process.

Considering that the lifecycle of a marine asset can be divided into following three main stages:
  • Design-to-Production and Delivery or Commissioning or Handover (depending of the floater type)
  • Operation and maintenance
  • Decommissioning (end-of-life)
The Design-to-Production process can then be further subdivided into the following stages:
  1. Conceptual design
  2. Preliminary design
  3. Contract design
  4. Functional design
  5. Transitional design (dividing the whole ship into zones for fabrication)
  6. Technological design (work instructions for the yard)
Design Comprehensiveness
The process gains another level of complexity when the design and building activities are divided among a number of sites and companies spreading across the globe. There is a need for a fully integrated software environment that can accommodate design, fabrication, assembly, and the whole lifecycle management and can provide an overview to all the disciplines and contractors involved in the project. Obviously, the software supporting the process would have also to interface with a range of external, third-party modules for specialised design, analysis and verification activities.

In essence, ship designers have to consider a wide range of design options to identify those that most closely cover the owner’s commercial and operational requirements. Consequently, the design process is iterative. When one aspect of a design is changed, it is highly desirable that the software environment automatically updates other components affected by the change. This would make it much easier to identify the impact of changes, as well as the most attractive design options and thereby optimize the design, while saving time. Once a change is decided upon, it has to be managed effectively, and communicated to all parties involved. Effective change management can save significant costs and avoid delays later in the process, especially during the actual construction of the vessel.

Considering the complexity of the process, and the fact that there is not a single tool available that is able to cover all of the above aspects, the solution needs to be found that can accommodate and integrate all the systems. A broader horizontal strategy is needed that extends through the engineering, business, material management, production, and lifecycle management domains. Such a solution should be able to manage the communication among the various tools and to monitor the evolution of the design and the engineering in accordance with the changes coming from different disciplines or parties (owners, designers, regulatory and classification bodies, builders).

SmartMarine Enterprise
SmartMarine Enterprise is Intergraph’s cPLM (capital Product Lifecycle Management) open, scalable solution that can serve as a platform for the integration of data, where global project information can be created, managed, reused and controlled throughout the asset lifecycle. The core of the solution is represented by SP Foundation while the authoring tools available in the suite range from the functional schematic to material and construction management.

It provides a mechanism for marine industries to use one or more products from the own suite in conjunction with a number and variety of third party tools that can be integrated through the platform. Global collaboration between clients, contractors and suppliers is enhanced through common information, which subsequently supports business processes. These overarching and collaborative workflows through internal and external value chains deliver quality information to the desktop, regardless the source application, forming a single source of access to the engineering data of the marine asset. This reliable system facilitates regulatory reviews, and enables faster decisions by means of cross-discipline, cross-referenced data and indices.

SmartMarine® 3D suite tool, which has been developed in conjunction with different stakeholders from the sector, covers the design-to-production of traditional merchant units as well as specialised offshore assets, from the initial stages of the design through its functional, detailed and production-planning phases. The suite offers extensive rule-based structure design functionality, which saves significant time and helps deal with design changes. This function automatically decomposes structures into constituent components and then generates details such as penetrations and connections, inclusive of standard plate-parts, welds and corresponding edge preparations (bevels). Deck and bulkhead plates are largely defined automatically indicating the plane(s) and bounding elements, their stiffeners can also be generated automatically; and all of them will be updated to reflect possible design changes. There are also rules to automatically determine suitable connection types for sectional members e.g. if the size of a beam is changed then the complete connection, including buckling plates, braces and gap clearances, are automatically updated.

Experienced users proved that it is possible to automatically generate up to 90 per cent of the structural details from the functional model and more than 95 per cent of manufactured parts from the detailed model.

Specification driven design, rules and automated layout (routing) are features facilitating the creation and the fast modification of the systems belonging to piping/hvac/electrical disciplines. The flow chart is illustrating the complexity of the design requirements for an essential system compliant with new ‘safe return to port’ regulation (see acknowledgment).

Design Versatility
A single database is used to contain the model of the marine asset as a whole, it includes all the components, their properties (e.g. material type, industry code, weight, etc.), and the relationship among the components (typical is the relationship among supports, supported pipes/ducts/trays and supporting structure). This unified data store makes it easier to optimize the design and manage design changes during the lifecycle enabling work-sharing across design sites worldwide with no size and geographical constrains (the sharing system is based on standard Microsoft SQL Server technology).

As all information about the designed marine asset is kept in the mentioned relational database, it is relatively easy to extract any relevant data about a component, subsystem, system or the whole floater. The information can be presented in the form of a report (Excel file) or a drawing (Smart Sketch file). Based on the stored model, the software automatically generates structural drawings, assembly drawings, isometric views, detail views, and specialised task deliverables as piping isometric drawings (following Isogen de-facto standard). Drawings are rule-based, hence only relevant objects are included in each drawing and labels and dimensions are automatically updated in case of model changes. Although complete catalogues of metric and imperial structural and outfitting components (SP Reference Data and Standard Database) are available, the system also has a function for user-designed built-up components with non-standard cross-sections, which can be designed and included in the catalogue. These can be used in the design as a standard component and at a later stage they can be automatically decomposed into the plates for fabrication. Such built-up components are particularly relevant when designing complex offshore structures. Another powerful feature emphasizing the importance of the relationship among components belonging to different disciplines is the Hole Management task, which ensures effective communications among structural designers and piping, HVAC and electrical designers: a robust workflow that increases efficiency and enables changes to be automatically updated. In order to ensure a more integrated approach to the design-to-production lifecycle, enhanced interoperability has been added to boost performance and productivity, particularly in large projects with multiparty contributions. Available interfaces improve cooperation and communications between the different teams and disciplines working on a project. A clear understanding by all parties in a project of how their work relates to that of the others will reduce the effort needed to ensure that all project components are compatible and correctly interfaced. It will also reduce the need to modify designs to fit in with parts of the project provided by others.

When many design disciplines, at different locations, work together on a project, there is always a risk that components get in each other’s way. Clash checking and validation function play a substantial role to make it fit for all. Designers can be advised at an early stage of any problems by avoiding expensive and time consuming changes and reworking during production and construction phases. If in addition to that, the tool allows producing general arrangement drawings based on the referenced models, there is a huge potential to increase productivity while shortening project schedules.

From Computer Models to Real Piece-parts
Designs being currently produced with the most advanced tools in the market are now highly detailed and objects including a whole set of technological information such as plate and pipe bevels, weld preparation, surface treatment, painting, markings, margins, shrinkage factor etc.

The planning module can be used to define and visualize the construction sequence; the module is allowing to aggregate all the components from the 3D model (structural, outfitting, equipment) following production and erection strategies, independently of the system break-down structure used in the functional design stages.

Panels, Sections, Blocks or Super-Blocks (using some frequently used assembly names in the marine industry) are including any kind of detailed components that are dynamically changing the characteristics of the assembly itself e.g. maximum dimension, minimum footprint, weight, CoG. In the modern shipbuilding industry, many parties will be involved in the design and building of even a modestly-sized vessel: designers, subcontractors, classification societies, and yards. There is significant scope for efficiency gains by optimising the data exchange between these parties. An effective link with production software will not dissipate the amount of valuable information created during the design-to-production process, especially not the technological data important for the manufacturing of the piece-parts like plates, profiles, pipes and their assemblies. Currently the preferred way to exchange the data between the 3D model at the end of the engineering phase and the solutions that will manage the production (workshops and construction) is based on open standards, such as XML or on industry-standards such as PCF. A tight integration means that valuable time is saved and data quality preserved when making the transition from design to actual shipbuilding operations. SmartPlant Construction might play an important role in feeding the yard with proper material and timing information to improve planning and logistics, possibly linked to third-party scheduling software like MS-Project or Oracle-Primavera.

A similar approach is adopted to link the 3D model with external analysis software (e.g. for strength assessment, scantling design, pipe-stress analyses etc.) during the basic design phase: the solution takes relevant data from its internal object model and exports it as an exchange model based on an XML schema. Integrated software, which covers all aspects of the design and building of a ship offers a significant scope for saving time and costs while optimizing the design. The opportunity for integrating the work of all design disciplines and automating routine design are also highly attractive in today’s competitive markets.