Page 50: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (December 2000)

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CAD/CAM Report

Is 3-D Product Modeling Practical For Small U.S. Shipyards?

Over the past 30 years, computer-aided ship design and construction has progressed from mainframe com- puters to PCs, from independent programs to fully integrated programs, and from large shipyards to all sizes of shipyards. More to the point, key advances during the past several years have made 3-D product modeling a tool that can significantly improve small yard efficiency, quality, and profit. However, 3-D product modeling can do these things only if imple- mented in a planned and well thought-out manner, tai- lored to the specific yard. 3-D product modeling, when combined with other innovations such as NC production equipment and the workstation approach to production, can make a small shipyard remarkably more competitive than when using traditional methods for new ship construction and major conversions.

Small shipyards, at least those in the U.S. today, are typically faced with tough competition and a shrinking market. In addition, those yards serving the petroleum industry face a cyclical market that wreaks havoc with attempts at maintaining a consistent workload and staff stability.

These yards often use traditional design, engineer- ing, and lofting techniques, though some computer-

Table 1

Characteristics of Three Example Small Shipyards


Astilleros de Murueta

Astilleros Zamakona

Construcciones Navales P. Freire


Capacity 40, 30, 30 15, 15,8, 60 110, 45,20

Employees # Ships

Bit. 10 Yrs 255 15 300 80+ 280 50+

Table 2

Upgrading to the 3-D Product Model System Modules and Date of Installation (FORAN CAD/CAE/CAM System)

Yard Fairing Steel Machinery and Outfitting

Astilleros de Murueta 1988 1988 1998

Astilleros Zamakona 1993 1993 1995

Construcciones Navales P. Freire 1989 1989 1994

Table 3

Improvements Resulting from Upgrading to 3-D Modeling (Coupled with Process and Facility Modernization) % SAVINGS

Yard *1 *2 *3 *4

Astilleros de Murueta 20 30

Astilleros Zamakona 25 35 25 30

Construcciones Navales P. Freire 25 35 30 50 *1 Materials Cost; *2 Production & Labor Cost; *3Construction Schedule; *4 Design Labor Hours aided design tools are entering the mainstream, as described in the following section. Traditional con- struction methods, notably stick building, are the norm. Construction expertise resides not in a comput- er database, but in the minds of senior foremen, lead- ermen, and craftsmen. When these people leave a shipyard, their corporate knowledge and shipbuilding expertise leave with them. These yards have small or non-existent internal research and development bud- gets. Their management and production personnel are wary of far-reaching innovations, which they perceive to hold risks of disrupting present practices and not delivering improvements to the yard.

Astilleros Zamakona is just one small shipyard, which reaped huge savings in materials, production and design hours by inte- grating a computerized 3-D modeling system.

Finally, small shipyards' time scales, for example, the time allocated to design, fabrication, or erection, is much shorter than those of the large yards. In these aforementioned yards, a change of several days may be of small consequence, but this may have a large impact





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