Digital lifecycle management at the shipyard of the future
Royal Schelde Naval Shipyards
By streamlining processes and managing product information in a controlled environment, Teamcenter supports fast-paced innovation in naval shipbuilding
Highly respected naval vessels
Royal Schelde Naval Shipyards is a member of the Damen Shipyard Group, a conglomerate of 34 wharfs in seven countries. Royal Schelde Naval Shipyards specializes in the production of military vessels, primarily for the Royal Dutch Navy but also for foreign navies. (Dutch naval vessels are highly regarded and are sought after by navies of allied nations.) Schelde Naval Shipyards designs, engineers, builds and maintains vessels.
All vessels must be optimized for the tasks they will perform. And because they are designed to bring competitive advantages to the customer, re-use is limited and standardization is difficult. This work requires fast-paced innovation. General Manager Hein van Ameijden explains it this way: “A wharf is in fact a noble packaging business. The customer wants a series of products packaged in a special, functional way. The packaging we provide is a ship. With military vessels this is even more eccentric, because the Royal Dutch Navy is rather progressive in adopting new technologies. That is why vessels never are the same, even when part of a series.
“The vessels we build have an operational life cycle of several decades and require maintenance and overhaul on a regular basis to meet the latest demands,” Van Ameijden continues. “These services are an important part of our added value for our customers. But they require tuned processes and information management. And so does the increasing international cooperation where the design is done in The Netherlands and the detail engineering and production are performed abroad.”
Optimizing information management
Royal Schelde previously used an in-house application for vessel configuration management that had several drawbacks. Engineering applications weren’t integrated and there was no ERP integration either. And even though change processes were well organized, the transfer from engineering to production was done manually. The application also lacked flexibility and did not allow for a swift reaction to market developments. This started the company on a quest for a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution that would resolve these issues and provide additional functionality as well.
“We recently finished a rather heavy ERP implementation,” says Van Ameijden. “The knowledge we acquired during that period gave us new ideas and views on how to handle the PLM implementation. We wanted a solution that had proven itself in our line of business. It was also important that the implementation partner had the experience and resources to achieve a successful implementation.”
The starting point for Schelde Naval Shipyards was an approach based on a fixed project scope being implemented in a fixed time frame and for a fixed price. The selection phase took more than two years. “We spent an ample time period to learn a lot about PLM,” recalls Van Ameijden. “It turned out there weren’t as many true PLM providers as we originally thought. When we sat down with Siemens PLM Software, we were quickly able to reach an agreement. Siemens was the only PLM provider able to prove a successful track record in our line of business and to accept our project approach.”
Fast payback anticipated
The decision to invest in the Teamcenter® digital lifecycle management software solution was made at the management level. “Our main driver has always been the business,” explains Van Ameijden. “Without PLM we cannot run our business as we would want to. To put it another way, the vision we have of our market and our business has PLM as a necessary prerequisite. As a result we did not spend much time calculating the return on investment or the payback time.” This does not imply that Schelde has no clear expectations on this point, however. According to Van Ameijden, “The cost of material is so high that savings through error reduction will lead to a short payback time and make the investment worthwhile.”
The Damen Shipyard Group closely followed the selection phase and approved the investment plan. The group closely monitored the implementation. “Schelde Naval Shipyards executes the most difficult projects in the Damen Shipyard Group,” explains Van Ameijden. “It is to be expected that the Teamcenter implementation will affect other large wharfs in the group, taking the level of cooperation into account. Schelde Naval Shipyards, for instance, often designs and engineers the more difficult vessels for other wharfs.”
Integration among applications and departments
Crucial to the improvements Teamcenter provides for Schelde is the integration with the design systems. Schelde uses Microstation for 2D engineering and Nupas and Cadmatic for 3D design. Nupas is the design system for developing the ship’s layout: the hull, the frame and the decks. Cadmatic works from this layout and is used to design all of the ship’s systems, piping, armatures, chairs and so on. Both systems are specifically designed for the shipbuilding industry and work closely together.
“Teamcenter brings us the advantage of linking product information to design data,” says Robert Boudens, project manager for the Teamcenter implementation. “For us that is of great importance in order to reduce the time it takes to transfer data from engineering to production. This has always been a manual step, time-consuming and inherently error prone.” The ERP integration is also part of the scope of the implementation project. Thanks to the link between product information and the designs in Teamcenter, the production planning department is now able to process changes faster. These changes had to be checked manually in the past.
“The well-defined processes that already were in place have been transformed to the Teamcenter lifecycle workflow,” says Boudens. “We are now able to manage all stages of approval: from the design phase, the internal approval, the client approval, the approval by the certified body and the release for production.”
Teamcenter was configured to conform to the systems present in a vessel. The hull is configuration managed, so the exact layout is known for maintenance and overhaul projects. All articles used in the design are available together with their purchase specifications, which are directly sent to the purchasing department. Teamcenter is also used by the production planning department, which creates bills of material and work packages based on the designs and drawings. These are directly transferred to the ERP system that controls the production.
Existing data was not migrated to Teamcenter. “We are a project organization, and we plan to migrate data only when necessary for one of the projects,” explains Boudens. “Following this approach, we were able to start with a clean slate, allowing for easy retrieval and re-use of data.” Teamcenter is also instrumental to the distribution of data. “Apart from all business considerations, we expect the Teamcenter implementation to pay off just by finding and distributing information,” states Boudens. “The savings have been estimated at a conservative three percent but the sums involved are considerable.”
Successful implementation of "essential" technology
The Teamcenter implementation has been successful. “Siemens took care of the technical implementation, supported by internal workgroups that translated the functional specifications to Teamcenter,” says Boudens. “Among the workgroup members were also end users. By ensuring their contribution to the development of the system, the acceptance was almost guaranteed. As project manager I saw to the efficient execution of the various tasks and reported to the steering group.”
Van Ameijden also was a member of that steering group: “My membership ensured that I was up-todate with all developments at all times, which makes it easier to free the required resources for a successful implementation. After all, this is not just any automation project, but an essential, futurebased improvement project for the way we conduct our business.”
The shipbuilding market has never been an easy one. Royal Schelde Naval Shipyards knows that better than anyone from its 130-year history. Political as well as economical influences create the need for a high level of flexibility. Such flexibility is now possible thanks to Teamcenter.