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Information hub: Advancing ship design innovation and solving practical challenges

From automated design optimization and information sharing, to a fully 3D design and approval process, we’re constantly working with our partners to find new ways to improve the design process.

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Facing the design challenge

Right now, the shipbuilding industry demands innovation. Existing, established ship design practices rely on 2D drawings for communication between ship designers, class societies and other stakeholders. This limits creativity, slows down communication, creates duplication and increases the potential for errors.

More importantly, 2D drawings can hamper progress at a time when stakeholders need to collaborate on decarbonization innovation, including designing for new low-carbon fuels and clean technologies, such as wind propulsion. Quick design iterations and comprehensive analyses are particularly important for innovative designs, when naval architects and engineers are exploring new concepts. Digital models enable them to easily simulate different profiles and design variations – pushing the limits of their creativity and enabling them to test ideas virtually, with results they can trust.

Some of the main issues that exist within the design process include:

  • Decarbonization, autonomous ships, stricter rules and regulations to comply with safety demands are producing new challenges for ship design.
  • Designers face increased design burdens and lead time due to increased engineering tasks and more complex rules. In other words, they need to manage complexity. The development of innovative new vessels using new energy sources requires designs that do not rely solely on previous design experience, showing the limitations of the empirical design method.

By creating new design processes, we can resolve these challenges, but also unlock new opportunities. For instance:

  • There is a growing interest in utilizing 3D digital twins created at the design stage for ship building and operation activities. Some shipyards are aiming to break away from the traditional sell-out business model, while classification societies are working to provide more advanced classification services. 3D digital twins are essential to this.
  • While this is a positive trend toward more efficient, safe, and sustainable shipping, the traditional design process which requires 2D drawings as its goal is blocking this move. This is because the 2D drawings used for plan approval are treated as the “true” source of information, even if the design was done with a 3D tool.

Model-based design, engineering, and approval processes using a single 3D model as an information hub can hold the key to solving these challenges. NAPA has been closely working with our customers and partners to develop an ideal design process, fit for the challenges experienced by shipyards today. We presented some of our results at this year’s COMPIT and ICCAS conferences:

Streamlining the ship structural optimization process

A conference paper from ICCAS 2022 by NAPA and Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering

Using NAPA as a platform, we created a fully automated design process for optimizing the midship structure of tankers.

This unlocked tremendous time savings at the initial design stage by automating the search for the optimum midship structure. As a result, it provides new possibilities for hull weight reduction, cost reduction, and performance improvement, and thus it enables more competitive and profitable ship designs.

With improved workflows, huge time savings for midship structure design are possible

This process is now being applied to actual design. It is interesting to note that, as Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering (SHI-ME) says in the paper, this means that new competencies may be required for designers (i.e. software skills such as design standardization and system design). Find out more here!

Download the conference paper and presentation

OCX: A game changing 3D format

A conference paper from COMPIT 2022 by NAPA and DNV

If designers are going to collaborate more closely, they need a common format. Having to enter the same design information into different formats, duplicating inputs, is a well-known nightmare – one for which the OCX format is expected to be the solution.

Through a joint industry project initiated by DNV in 2016, a common 3D format (OCX) is being developed that has the potential to become a new industry standard for shipbuilding.

To support this, NAPA has developed an Import/Export function that supports the full OCX specification, taking advantage of the features specialized for basic structure design. OCX files created with external 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) can be imported and converted to NAPA’s native structure and compartment models. Output functions such as drawings, numerical output, FEM, NAPA Viewer, and 3D data export are all available.

It also supports a direct linkage via OCX to seamlessly integrate between NAPA and DNV’s rule calculation software. This will enable quicker design iteration, making it easier for users to pursue optimal design.

Generation of cross-sections in rule check packages from OCX-based NAPA 3D model

Read more about how we worked with DNV to understand more about the technical potential of OCX.

Download the conference paper and presentation

Creating an effective 3D design and approval process

A conference paper from ICCAS 2022 by NAPA, ClassNK and Nihon Shipyard

3D model-based approval, in which a 3D model created during the design process is used for class approval instead of 2D drawings, is an attractive concept at first glance – but is not necessarily welcomed by design and approval engineers. They are – rightly – interested in designing better ships efficiently, but not necessarily in the methodologies required to approve it in 3D.  They point out that forcing through a 3D model-based approval without resolving current issues – like division of work, compatibility issues, visibility issues in reviewing data in 3D – in the design process may result in negative outcomes, creating additional work rather than streamlining the process.

The ClassNK-NAPA-Nihon Shipyard (NSY) Project tackled these issues head-on.

By downloading the conference paper, you can read more to find out how we used NAPA API technology to achieve seamless integration, with a 3D model that can be kept up to date throughout the process as the central source of design information. This direct interface approach has huge potential – and is starting to gain traction.

You can also find out how we addressed visibility issues with 3D models – we developed the web browser-based NAPA Viewer, which allows all stakeholders to review NAPA models easily. The viewer has a special automatic annotation tool that combines the advantages of a 3D model with those of traditional 2D drawings, that helps reviewers find design information quickly and intuitively.

How integration changes design and approval processes

Find out more by downloading the conference paper!

Download the conference paper and presentation

Easy and efficient structural assessment process for class approval

A conference paper from ICCAS 2022 by NAPA and Korean Register

As the complexity of the design environment increases, improving work efficiency is essential to producing superior vessel designs. However, user experience is vital in the context of having to deal with multiple domain-specific tools. Ensuring the consistency of such information is also a challenge. To help designers cope with these challenges, NAPA has also collaborated with Korean Register (KR), and adopted a solution that directly links NAPA Steel and KR’s structural strength calculation software SeaTrust-HullScan.

The result is a very efficient and easy-to-use solution to the problem. This system is now being used in shipyards in Korea, and further improvements are planned based on customer feedback.

An interface between NAPA Steel and SeaTrust-HullScan accelerates the approval process

The full details are available in the available ICCAS 2022 conference paper.

Download the conference paper

Issue-driven digital transformation fuels success

At the COMPIT and ICCAS conferences this year, we introduced our work on 3D model-based Design, Engineering, and Approval for structural design. We wanted to integrate several useful tools with a single source of information, the NAPA platform, at its core. We believe that continuous development of 3D modelling systems and processes will contribute to ensuring long-term innovation.

The biggest learning from these projects is the importance of providing solutions that help solve the fundamental issues and challenges that users and stakeholders are facing.

As the industry environment is changing rapidly, including digitization and decarbonization, we will continue to build solutions that provide real value to the industry and customers through collaboration with stakeholders and customers to tackle issues together.

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