A study of the shipbuilding and ship repair industries produced valuable information on how productivity and efficiency could be enhanced by introducing computer aided engineering (CAE) technologies. The principal aim of the project was to improve the uptake of CAE in smaller shipbuilding and ship repair yards.
A consortium comprising the Shipbuilders and Shiprepairers Association (SSA) and their members, the Engineering Design Centre (University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne) and The Manufacturing Consultancy at TWI collaborated on the year long project with the support of the DTI.
Many shipyards were visited to determine current methods of operation. Whilst most had excellent paper systems it was found that there was considerable duplication of effort and limited use of computer technology. The need for increased speed in collating and presenting data was evident and potential applications for CAE identified in the areas of accounting, estimating, planning, production, purchasing and stock control.
Low cost CAE tools were evaluated in the context. Project management, database management and spreadsheet tools are seen to have immediate potential to meet shipyard needs, common also to the needs of many small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The CAD software evaluated in this case (e.g. for hull form development) is of more specific relevance to the ship building / repair industry sector.
In a series of workshops, the concepts, tools and implementation methods were presented to yard staff. In specific studies CAE tools were taken into a yard and demonstrated using real situations. A significant problem for all yards is in resourcing the implementation of CAE. Several mechanisms for easing this problem were identified and the study highlighted the importance of having skilled people in the use of CAE tools working with yard staff.
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