shipyards are locked in a fierce battle with shipyards in other parts
of the world where labour costs and other overheads are lower. To compete
successfully, EU shipbuilders must speed up production times, become more
efficient and cut costs. To help the industry harness new technologies
and improve its expertise all areas of the process the European Commission
is backing the Competitive Engineering and Production in Shipbuilding
(CEPS) thematic network.
project co-ordinator is Patrick Person of Alstohm
Chantiers de l'Atlantique, the yard in western France that won the
contract to build the new Queen Mary cruise liner. He has no doubt about
the most important challenge facing European shipyards. "Improving
our competitiveness is the over-riding priority. To do this, we need techniques
to improve our lead time and cut costs."
As a result,
the CEPS is examining the current state of EU shipbuilding to find the
gaps in European expertise. The state-of-the-art review divided shipbuilding
into its two main areas: engineering and design and
improving materials and production methods, and set
up small teams from the participating companies to examine
individual topics in both.
a thematic network?
operates through a thematic network, a mechanism for recruiting
the expertise of companies and research organisations in a specific
industry to identify significant future research needs. The network
was established under the Fourth Framework programme in November
1998, and has three years to complete its task with a budget of
million. When needs are identified, it formulates research projects
to meet them, to submit to the various FP5
the marine sector has to compete with road transport and railways
for EU funding, the use of a thematic network has proved very effective
in co-ordinating project submission, targeting the most useful research
projects and gaining funding. The first CEPS objective was to submit
as many projects as possible under FP5. About 40 projects were proposed
of which 25% have been accepted.
engineering and design area is led by Chantiers de l'Atlantique,
assisted by Italian shipyard Fincantieri. Highlights include:
Organization (IMO) continually evolves safety rules for ships
through a process of international consultation. It can take several
years before the rules it proposes are adopted, so naval architects
can work on ways to prevent increased IMO safety requirements from
leading to massively increased costs at shipyards. Three CEPS projects
concern the effects of new IMO rules on shipbuilding:
side structures for improved collision damage survivability of coasters
and medium-sized ro-ro (roll-on, roll-off) cargo ships
Under the 1998 IMO resolution A.684(17), ships between 80- and
100-m long must have a good probability of survival when struck
by another ship. Conventional design to assure this survivability
could have adverse effects on the operational range and even the
safety of ships of this size. The Netherlands
Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) is looking
at the crashworthiness of side structures of ships in the CRASH
COASTER project with the aim of introducing the crash resistance
of materials into the ship design process. The need for conventional
survivability measures could then be reduced as far as possible.
for safety: ship fire engineering analysis toolkit
The IMO is also developing new rules for fire-protection design.
As well as traditional prescriptive design rules, IMO will permit
a new approach based on 'fire-risk analysis'. Under this approach,
a design that does not comply exactly with the design rules will
still be permitted if the analysis shows that it is equally safe.
In the SAFETY
FIRST project, Fincantieri is leading a team compiling a reliable
'toolkit' for fire-risk assessment for ships by 2002, when the
new rules enter into force. This will enable European yards and
ship owners to take instant advantage of the new safety regulations.
of rules and design rationale
Det Norske Veritas
is leading a project to harmonise the rules and design rationale
behind the proposed IMO damage stability regulations that are
based on a probabilistic approach. The HARDER project will be
a concerted effort at European level to address the worrying lack
of rationale in the choice of parameters to be considered and
poor consistency in the results of calculations based on them.
Other projects in the design area are looking at a model-based
integrated ship design process to develop an overall design methodology,
and a functional design process to replace the slow 'trial and
error' methods that reduce competitiveness.
materials and production methods
fabrication and production area is also led by Chantiers de l'Atlantique,
assisted by Odense
Steel Shipyard of Denmark. Its four key areas are:
1. General production technologies, piloted by Odense
2. Quality assurance and quality control concepts and methods,
led by German shipyard Flensburger
Schiffbau Gesellschaft (FSG)
3. New processes and materials, led by The Welding
Institute of the UK
4. Computer integrated manufacturing logistics in shipbuilding,
also led by FSG.
are two subsidiary thematic areas:
Concurrent engineering and multi-site production, led by Odense
Application of IT and computer technology, led by Astilleros Espaņoles,
now part of IZAR
underway in the fabrication and production area include:
steel in fast ship structures
High-tensile steel has potential for building high-speed ships
because structures can be lighter in weight without loss of strength.
In the FASDHTS
project, TNO is investigating the possibility of a new generation
of fast, large mono-hull vessels made from HTS 690 grade steel.
The goal is to develop new structural concepts for cost-efficient
vessels longer than 150m, with a speed of 50 knots. The ambitious
targets are to reduce ship weight by 40%, construction time and
cost by up to 20%, CO2 emissions by 15% and operating costs by
30%. Necessary tools will be new joining techniques and new maintenance,
inspection and corrosion protection systems.
low-cost, versatile and safe welding by the YAG laser
The SHIPYAG project aims to develop a solid state (YAG) laser
for welding in shipbuilding. Present gas-based lasers, which transmit
the laser light by mirrors, are expensive and inflexible in use.
Fincantieri, manager of the project, will use optical fibre transmission
to produce a compact, flexible laser welding system suitable for
robotic application. Its more efficient use of the laser energy
should enable medium to thick steel plates to be welded in shipyards,
with savings of 6 to 8% of hull fabrication costs.
The YAG laser project is one of a cluster on joining for shipbuilding,
which include the use of adhesives - such as the BONDSHIP
project being led by Det Norske Veritas. A big advantage of gluing
is that it takes place at ambient temperature, whereas the heat
of welding can produce distortions in steel. It can also be used
to join novel materials such as composites and innovative designs
such as corrugated steel that is strong but light in weight.
low density steel sandwich materials
Another new lightweight material is the steel sandwich. The 'filling'
in the sandwich is a low density material, usually a composite.
The SANDWICH project, which has 13 European partners, is developing
such materials for a wide range of transport uses including shipbuilding.
Their advantages include savings of space and weight, noise and
vibration reduction, fire safety, crash worthiness and corrosion
resistance. The project will test sample sandwiches and collect
performance data to produce a design tool that can be used to
formulate tailor-made products for specific applications.
round of project applications
CEPS thematic network has been hard at work during the first part
of 2000 preparing research proposals for the second round of FP5.
Another 40 or so proposals were submitted at the end of March 2000,
and an announcement of the successful projects is expected in the
summer of 2000.
in the CEPS thematic network
in the CEPS thematic network
Shipyards, research organisations and classification societies participating
in CEPS include:
national contact points can give details of present and
future CEPS projects.