ShipConstructor Software Inc. (SSI), in collaboration with its US-based subsidiary ShipConstructor Software USA, Inc., the National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP), and several US shipyards including Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB), has reached another milestone in the effort to create further cost savings for their clients.
With the introduction of its online sharing site SC4D (http://SC4D.ShipConstructor.com), SSI is now providing the means to create and share 4D outfitting CAD models via the Internet. 4D, the fourth dimension, is the attribute data and PDF documentation added to the 3D CAD model.
The use of the site will be free and open to all shipbuilders, designers and equipment manufacturers worldwide to share the effort of building a reusable online outfitting library, thus cutting cost and time for everyone.
A major cost and time for every designer and builder in the world is the creation of the outfit item library. A yard’s library can approach or even exceed the ten thousand mark. Imagine a single location providing thousands or hundreds of thousands of ready-to-use 4D CAD models such as engines, pumps, strainers, galley, and navigation equipment. SC4D is aimed at building an online community to minimize the cost and time for everyone by putting in place the tools for building, maintaining and sharing these libraries.
Generating a complete CAD model of a ship or offshore structure that includes all outfit items in intelligent form generates tremendous savings in production. In addition, the end customers of a vessel have become accustomed to visualizing and checking a complete 4D model before building begins.
It is SSI’s belief that it should become common practice in the future to use the complete model as the basis for a more efficient life cycle model.
While aimed specifically at ShipConstructor customers, users of other software systems will also find this site useful. To foster an open community, users can upload and download outfit items in any CAD format, such as DWG, Inventor, ProE, Solidworks or STEP. However, the most effective option will be the intelligent ShipConstructor XML format. The XML format enhances the plain 3D CAD model by adding attribute and documentation data, thus effectively creating a 4D model. The CAD data inside the XML container currently supports DWG, but will be extended to Inventor file format later this year. Attribute data is grouped into general data, such as manufacturer, weight, performance ratings, description, and complex data, such as logical connections for Pipe and HVAC. For example, piping connections not only include the connection location, but also direction, connection type, size, pressure class, and more.
Electrical connection attributes will be added later this year when the ShipConstructor Electrical module is released. The predefined ShipConstructor data can be easily extended by user defined data to meet user’s needs. A future version of ShipConstructor will integrate browsing, up- and downloading, thus further streamlining this process.
The SC4D website is community driven, allowing users to rate models that have been uploaded by others. This built in quality control mechanism helps users by guiding them towards better models, and away from those models which are of lesser quality. No doubt, this will be an evolving process and SSI will encourage users to provide feedback to achieve the most effective way of operation.
A slowly growing number of equipment manufacturers provide 3D models of their products. It is SSI’s sincere hope that SC4D will accelerate this process now that SC4D provides a platform that lets manufacturers reach the largest number of potential buyers with the smallest effort. In time, SSI expects that SC4D will grow the number of suppliers providing and maintaining high quality outfit models for the shipbuilding and offshore industries.
Future plans for SC4D include direct integration with the ShipConstructor Equipment library. This will allow ShipConstructor users to publish and download equipment models directly to/from SC4D, provided they have access to the Internet.
The foundation of the SC4D technology was developed with the help of funding by the US National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP). The project team included the US shipyards Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Austal USA, Bollinger, VT Halter, Marinette Marine, Bender Shipbuilding and Todd Pacific, as well as the design companies Gibbs & Cox, Elliott Bay Design Group, Genoa Design, Murray & Associates and Art Anderson.