Case Study

Designing elegance

Azimut

NX enables the synergy of versatile shapes and high-end functionality to create sophisticated, sought-after boats

A name that means luxury

Azimut was founded in 1969 by Paolo Vitelli, current CEO and president, as a sailing boat charter business. It has since become the definitive producer of luxury boats. The company was the first to introduce fiberglass boats to Italy and since then, Azimut’s growth has been exponential.

Azimut competes in different market sectors with three product divisions dedicated to boats of different sizes. Under the brand names “Gobbi” and “Atlantis,” the company makes boats up to 39 feet long at its Gropparello facility. The Azimut brand denotes boats from 39 to 116 feet long. Boats up to 70 feet long are produced at Avigliana, which is also the location of the company’s headquarters. Boats from 70 to 116 feet are made in Viareggio. The Viareggio area is also the home of the third division, Azimut Benetti, which is dedicated to luxury yachts. Having these three different divisions reflects not only the production of different-sized boats. The boats themselves are substantially different, each with its own design needs and target market.

Leveraging the experience of different sectors

Most of the company’s smaller boats are produced in larger quantities and have a standard production process, implying more uniformity during assembly. The bigger boats are more customized, with a great deal of input from the buyer. These need a more flexible production process. “But, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t also synergies among different-sized boats that we can leverage,” explains Paolo Bertetti, product research and development manager, Azimut. “These synergies are often referred to as knowledge. In the case of fiberglass boats up to 116 feet long, for example, there are experiences that can be transferred from one model to another, even though the designs are different.”

Azimut’s R&D department takes advantage of every possible technological and design innovation, looking at other industries and judging what it finds for applicability to the nautical sector. All innovations are evaluated on a lab boat, “K Series,” and positive results are implemented by the design team of the Azimut-Benedetti group. A process that is this organized requires highly advanced design software that contributes to the elimination of every possible error, that facilitates change during the more advanced phases of model production and that ultimately decreases development time and costs. This is why Azimut chose the the NX™ digital product development solution from Siemens PLM Software. As Bertetti confirms, “Our choice of Siemens for our design system has resulted in very satisfactory results, especially in the area of 3D design.”

A complete product development solution

A boat is a complex product, composed of many elements. NX’s visualization functionality allows a view of the entire assembly. “With NX, for example, we can optimize the space around the engine so that it’s possible to carry out the maintenance operations,” explains Bertetti. “We use the CAD models downstream to create the CNC programs that mill parts.We use also the software’s nesting function to optimize fiberglass cutting.” Other uses for NX data at Azimut include finite element modeling and hydrodynamic and aerodynamic simulations.

NX is not only a tool for design. It is also a complete solution for digital product development that has enabled Azimut to move to global development of its boats, another way the company is reducing time-to-market and costs. For Azimut, the relationship with suppliers is very important and the company deals with a wide range of them, from huge international companies to small artisans.

According to Bertetti, NX functionality enables Azimut to design and optimize every component on a boat, offering this example. “The engine supplier sends us files containing dimensions of the engine,” he explains. “Using NX, we can optimize the location of the engine within the hull.We can also optimize the design of the boat’s interior furnishings. When it comes to production, our suppliers have very detailed drawings of what they are to produce, including what is located nearby and where their parts will be placed. In this way they avoid many tests to obtain the perfect functional and aesthetic configuration.”

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