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Collaborate on more efficient design today for greener ships tomorrow

The NAPA User Meeting 2023 has shown how the ship design community can come together, sharing expertise and practical experience to make processes more efficient and fit for an era of fast-paced innovation. This collaborative spirit will be essential to help the sector keep up with rapid changes and fully play its part in shipping’s energy transition.  

Many participants have described the NAPA User Meeting as a family gathering, and this summarizes perfectly the remarkable cooperation and information-sharing that took place under the Finnish sun. Under this year’s event theme ‘Re-inventing Ship Design Together’, stakeholders from across the ship design industry joined forces, overcoming geographic and company divides to solve common challenges – collaborating to create a smarter future for the industry as a whole. For anyone wanting to see maritime collaboration in action, this NAPA User Meeting in Helsinki was the place to be.  

Throughout the week, pioneering shipyards and design companies showcased innovative projects and smart ways of working. Over a hundred naval architects, engineers, and representatives of shipyards, shipowners, engineering companies and classification societies were gathered under the same roof. These professionals from more than 20 countries and 50 companies were not only discussing the most pressing issues that they face today – crucially, they were also sharing practical tips and insights from their own innovative projects with their industry peers.  

Several industry experts showed how they streamlined workflows to save precious time and deliver, with improved efficiency, new designs ranging from LPG tankers to super yachts. Others showed how they designed  cutting-edge vessels or simulated new technologies such as wind power in the early design phase. Leading classification societies, together with designers and shipyards, presented the latest developments in their efforts to streamline the design review and approval processes by using NAPA 3D models, paving the way for 3D model-based approvals (3D MBA) of hull structures, which will be a game-changer for the industry.  

While these pioneering projects varied immensely in nature and scope, they had one common denominator: 3D models, hosted by NAPA’s digital design, engineering and information-sharing tools. This is a clear signal of the path to follow for ship design to be ready for what comes next.  

A new era for ship design 

Shipping is entering an energy transition that is redefining what ship designs will be demanded by the industry, which calls for future-proof designs. The focus on emissions reductions is already boosting demand for next-generation vessels that are more fuel-efficient, powered by alternative fuels, or equipped with new systems such as wind propulsion which increase the complexity of the vessel design.

For naval architects and, structural engineers, these new requirements generate a whole new level of complexity, impacting fundamental aspects such as the vessel’s stability, weight, and structural integrity. Being able to navigate this complexity efficiently will be essential to flourish in this new era.  

To deliver these innovative vessels, we need the right foundations in place. It is evident that a streamlined design process helps naval architects to design vessels more efficiently. Being able to share information in real time with all stakeholders via 3D models reduces the time spent on iterations, allowing teams to focus on what they do best: delivering the best possible designs. Therefore, making the ship design process as efficient as possible will be essential to enable innovation at the speed and scale needed to support shipping’s decarbonization.  

Streamlining structural design for better concepts 

In all our discussions and presentations during this event, perhaps the most important topic was the importance of streamlining the structural design process, by enabling the use of 3D models from the early concept stage through to classification approvals (by leveraging 3D MBA) – and then through detailed design, and all the way in downstream production design.  

Several presentations during the event showed how using a single 3D model facilitates communication throughout the process, ensuring data consistency between disciplines, saving significant time, minimizing duplicated input and helping avoid costly errors in the downstream process. With the benefits already clear today, we are seeing that this paradigm shift in structure design continues, as modern 3D-based processes are getting wider acceptance in the industry.  

NAPA shared how a single NAPA model used collaborative design platform and supports challenging demands at NAPA User Meeting 2023

Going forward, the increasing need for real-time information exchange will be another key driver toward a single model that facilitates coordination between the disciplines.​ Additionally, to unlock the full range of potential efficiency gains, it will be important that the 3D design model can be reused in downstream production design, which is another area where NAPA is very active. 

A smarter, collaborative future 

As engineering and design companies look to future-proof their activities, having a “3D foundation” will become an even bigger differentiator. For a start, it is key to efficiently accommodate the numerous iterations that are inevitable in the design process, particularly for innovative concepts such as vessels powered by alternative fuels or equipped with clean technologies.  

Furthermore, 3D models unlock the possibility to use next-generation simulation tools that can model the future ship’s performance in actual sea conditions from the very early design phase. In short, thanks to 3D models, we will be able to compare different alternatives from the outset to deliver the best possible concepts for their clients.  

At NAPA, we are committed to building this 3D foundation together, helping streamline the design process in partnership with all stakeholders involved in a ship design. The User Meeting was an opportunity for us to present the latest features of our digital tools, and have a valuable dialogue with our customers about the key issues to solve to make design tools as practical as possible for their end users. This valuable feedback helps us refine and develop our products better, focusing on what will really support naval architects and, structural engineers  in their daily work and through the major transformations ahead.  

At NAPA User Meeting, NAPA Labs showcased all NAPA solutions and attendees tried out the features.

As we navigate this new era filled with challenges and opportunities, we must keep in mind that the transformation is not just about technology, but most importantly about the people at the heart of it. It is about being open to try new ways of working, and willing to collaborate to share best practices and lessons learned together. After this User Meeting, I am more confident than ever that the ship design community is up for the challenge.  

I hope to see you again next year at NAPA User Meeting 2024! 


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