Ships and offshore units are specialist structures with high requirements for efficiency and availability throughout their entire life cycle. Many of the processes, from draft via production all the way to operation, can be supported by 3D models and computer graphics.
How can the actual dimensions of a compartment be measured efficiently in case of retrofit e.g. for ballast water treatment or ILO MLC? How can the location of a structural crack be reported to onshore colleagues? How can the design of a vessel be communicated for review by owner or class? These themes were reflected in the presentations and discussions at the GL Exchange Forum "3D Technology in Shipbuilding and Shipping" held at Germanischer Lloyd's Head Office last week.
50 representatives from the maritime industry, shipping companies, ship management agencies, shipyards, and stakeholders met to consider the future of the industry and hear presentations from GL experts and industry representatives. The GL Forum focused on the potential for the application of 3D technology in shipbuilding, ship operation, offshore and maritime technology and provided as well an opportunity to discuss the associated challenges, such as the protection of intellectual property.
The guests were welcomed to the Forum by GL's Hans-Günther Albers, who introduced the themes for the evening. He noted that the complexity of the data and the specific boundary conditions in the maritime industry require customized IT solutions.
Dr Christian Cabos, responsible for Information Management and Tools at GL Classification, held a presentation which gave a detailed survey of Lifecycle Management in Shipping and the Use of Ship Models to improve Communication. He explained the extent to which 3D models are already in use during a ship's lifecycle, from simple 3D geometric models for stability approval to more complex 3D production models. GL's software GL HullManager for example uses a 3-D computer model of the specific vessel, to support the hull condition inspection and assessment process. Dr Cabos also discussed options and challenges when using 3D models provided by the yard to support the class approval process.
Matthias Roth, Siemens Industry Software, and Dr Christian Hesse, dhp:I, reported about "Modern Refit - from Point Clouds to effective MRO Use Cases." Their presentation examined the possibility of using laser scans of existing vessels. Laser scans could be a useful tool for structural works, refit, repair, overhaul, ship extensions, and modifications such as a change in purpose from an offshore support ship to a cable-laying vessel, the integration of a new davit crane, or the fitting of new pipings into an existing machine room.
Dr Matthias Grau, PROSTEP, looked at the Practical Applications of Intellectual Property Protection when communicating 3D Data between Yard and Owner. Ship design expertise and engineering details require adequate protection, he said. The shipyard must ensure safe transmission of data packages, in particular when exchanging 3D information, while balancing the recipient's need for full access to the information .
GL's Uwe Langbecker, held a presentation examining how 3D models could support Computer Aided Maintenance, Inspection and Repair. 3D models of a vessel's geometry can help to prepare, implement and document maintenance tasks in various ways. They are used to visualize, identify and relocate individual hull components and systems as well as inspection findings attached to them.
Finally, Prof. Dr Freiherr von Lukas, Head of Competence Center Maritime Graphics, at Fraunhofer IGD, gave an overview on the "Potentials of 3D Computer Graphics in the Maritime Industry". In his presentation, he spoke about 3D as an enabling technology through the complete lifecycle of a ship and gave some examples of maritime 3D applications. This concept also emerged in discussions following the presentation, where the attendees discussed the idea of a virtual ship model which could accompany a vessel throughout its lifecycle, from design to production, operation, retrofit and scrapping.