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Design of Improved and Competitive Products using an Integrated Decision-support System for Ship Production and Operation

The principal objective of the IMPROVE project is to develop three new generations of ships in an integrated multiple criteria decision-making environment. This will use advanced design synthesis and analysis techniques at the earliest stage of the design process, which innovatively considers structure, production, operational aspects, performance and safety criteria on a concurrent basis.

Tags: Water


European ship building has achieved an important market share through its ability to innovate. This is achieved both through new concepts and the structural optimisation of the entire ship development cycle. Such optomisation has the possibility to produce smarter ships, that are better booth in terms of operation and cost. Improve applies this innovation to produce critical innovative improvements to three product categories. These are:

  1. Gas carriers (LNG)

    Europe has constructed several LNG gas carriers of between 72 000 and 140 000 m³. Several key issues are associated with the development of new LNG structural concept:

    • how to combine fatigue assessment reliably within the early design stage
    • Developing concepts concerning new markets for very large LNG gas carriers
    • Optimising design for production in terms of workload distribution between the different workshops
  2. Large RoPax, Ropax is an increasingly important class and in the last five years. This has been an important sector for some yards such as the Uljanik Shipyard. To be competative against strong global compettion the ship concept must be in line with with ship owners needs in terms of the current and future market conditons.
  3. Chemical tanker

    Basic tankers are ordered by owners for the short term. Most tankers are used for a very short time by the operator that orders the ship and is the resold. Such ships are constructed by low cost producers, typically outsde of the EU and are purchased only on the basis of short term cost. Designs on this basis are not relevant to integrating long-term operational and maintenance costs in the design. However concepts for chemical tankers that are optomised for a long operational life(>15 years) will have lower total life cycle costs. These are attractive concepts for ship owners, both in terms of the direct operational cost and higher resale values


The generic objectives of the project are:

  • to develop improved generic ship designs based upon multiple criteria mathematical models (LNG gas carriers, chemical tankers, large RoPax)
  • to improve and apply rational models for estimation of the design characteristics in the early design phase
  • to use and reformulate basic models of multiple criteria ship design, and include them into an integrated decision-support system for ship production and operation.

In addition, there are some specific objectives for each new product.

  1. Gas carriers (LNG)
    • Develop a new market with the design of very large LNG gas carriers. It is important for Aker Yard to investigate such new products so as to be able to compete against Korean shipyards, which have already designed such large vessels.
    • How to perform reliable fatigue assessment at the early design stage.
    • Determine the optimum sequence of production and the workload distribution between the different workshops.
  2. Large RoPax The arrangement of a large space without pillars requires sophisticated structure solutions. The benefits will be:
    • reduced light ship weight
    • better stability
    • smaller gross tonnage

    The challenge is to improve on the rule of structural design at an early stage of design (concept stage), find an optimal design solution with the IMPROVE tools and continue the design process in the preliminary stages with a better starting point/design.

  3. Chemical tanker How to improve the earliest design steps:
    • intelligent models to assess fatigue, ultimate strength, vibrations, design and accidental loads
    • rational approach to integrate these models with the design and estimate overall life cycle savings.
We IMPROVE shipbuilding
We IMPROVE shipbuilding

Description of work

The IMPROVE RTD tasks include:

  • identification of new product concepts and stakeholders’ requirements, establishing problem and model definitions (WP2)
  • identification of structural load and response calculation modules (WP3)
  • assessment of production and operational aspects (WP4)
  • integration of identified models from above-mentioned work packages (WP5)
  • application of an integrated IMPROVE platform for the design of three new generations of products (WPs 6-8):
    • exploitation and dissemination activities of the project results, and their coordination within WP9.


Improve will generate:

  1. a new generation large LNG gas carrier to enhance the competitiveness of European shipyards
  2. a new innovative concept optomised large RoPax vessel
  3. a new generation of chemical tanker that is expected to prove a valuable niche market for certain shipyards within the consortia.

The new design optomisation methodology applied within IMPROVE will be validated towards the martime design community though the development of practical innovative concepts obtained by:

  • defining the ship attributes and measures of design quality early in terms of:
    1. robustness, cleanliness, safety and comfort of product and its service
    2. reduced operational/maintenance costs and energy consumption
    3. integration of advanced, low-mass material structures in the vessel design
    4. rated performance at low initial and maintenance costs;
  • generating a set of efficient designs and displaying them to the stakeholders for the final top-level selection. These designs will exhibit the following measurable and verifiable indicators :
    1. an increase in carrying capacity of a minimum of 5-7% of the steel mass
    2. a decrease of steel cost of at least 8%
    3. a decrease of production costs corresponding to standard production of more than 8-10%
    4. an increase in safety measures due to the rational distribution of material
    5. a reduction in FO consumption of more than 12%.
    6. an improvement in the vessel’s operational performance and efficiency of around 10-15%, including a benefit of 5 to 10% on the maintenance cost related to structure and machinery.
Ships studied within the IMPROVE project
Ships studied within the IMPROVE project