What is Shipbuilding PLM?

Shipbuilding PLM Definition, from a shipyard perspective:


  • A key enabler for orchestrated flow of configuration managed digital information across the shipyard.

  • A configuration managed repository of design, equipment specification, manufacturing, quality control, and testing data.


The Digital Thread and Digital Twin


As well as offering improved operational efficiency with integrated information flow throughout the shipyard, the Digital Thread and the Digital Twin are two significant strategic capabilities that can be delivered as part of a Shipbuilding PLM implementation.


The Digital Thread is the full traceability of a configuration managed product development structure (BOMs, 3D viewables with attribution, documents, software etc.) throughout the product lifecycle from concept design through to manufacturing, commissioning and service.


The Digital Twin is an exact digital representation of the specific revisions of product data used to engineer, build, test and handover a specific hull/vessel. The Digital Twin can be a significant asset for competitive bidding on post ship delivery service contracts.


Implementing Shipbuilding PLM has traditionally not been considered an easy task for a mid to large sized shipyards, and some of the most common obstacles to success are outlined below:


Challenges implementing Shipbuilding PLM


  • Legacy / traditional PLM systems do not have “Shipbuilding DNA”, they were developed for the automotive and aerospace industries.  Shipbuilding has very specific processes not encountered in other discrete manufacturing industries.

  • PLM Software vendors, IT consultants and system integrators often lack shipbuilding experience.

  • The closed and monolithic technology platforms deployed by some PLM software vendors do not have the necessary agility and flexibility to meet the unique requirements of the shipbuilding industry.

  • “Legacy Port" of critical path processes in shipyards are often still driven by 2D documentation, Excel sheets, department level databases, completely outside of the corporate IT tool set and adequate data governance.

  • Investments in information technology often focus on specific isolated process improvements at the departmental level, leading to isolated data silos and disconnected processes throughout the shipyard.


Adaptive PLM, new enabling technology for Shipbuilding PLM


The good news is that new, adaptive PLM technologies have become available in recent years, allowing for several of the above challenges to be addressed head-on, and some of the first significant industry case studies are starting to make the headlines.    


During the next series of blog posts, I will be writing in further detail about Shipbuilding PLM from the different perspectives of the diverse range of stakeholders in the PLM lifecycle, as well discussing how new technologies from other domains will impact the future of Shipbuilding PLM. I look forward to discussing these topics with you in the comments sections below!

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