ShipConstructor is an AutoCAD based software product line created for design, engineering and construction in the shipbuilding industry. ShipConstructor’s AutoCAD foundation provides a user environment that is a globally recognized CAD/CAM standard. This results in an existing labor pool of expertise, a common DWG format for sharing information with other applications, and a portfolio of complementary Autodesk products.
ShipConstructor’s use of COTS technologies such as AutoCAD and Microsoft SQL Server allows it to be integrated with other business processes and applications. This enables it to address the requirements of all clients and projects. The Associative DWG capability of ShipConstructor’s Marine Information Model provides true Concurrent Engineering for the first time in shipbuilding CAD/CAM; all engineering disciplines can work within a single integrated environment with associativity that extends to the production drawing level. These differentiators are combined in an industry specific product that incorporates shipbuilding standards, concepts and terminology.
AutoCAD provides the underlying CAD engine and drafting tools for ShipConstructor products. AutoCAD is one of the most widely used CAD applications available today and provides robust general purpose CAD tools with industry leading drafting capabilities. AutoCAD is a generic tool intended for broad applicability but with ShipConstructor, a specialized toolset is available, designed to meet the specific challenges of the shipbuilding industry.
AutoCAD skills are common amongst engineers, designers and draftsmen. When combined with the innovative industry specific capabilities that ShipConstructor builds on top of the AutoCAD foundation, the result is a solution that requires very little training and allows clients to pull from a much broader labor pool than competing solutions.
The prevalence of AutoCAD has also made DWG a standard for communication between CAD, PDM and PLM tools. As an AutoCAD vertical, ShipConstructor products offer unparalleled capabilities for communication and collaboration with other tools and processes in the marine construction industry.
A ShipConstructor product model can seamlessly be utilized by other Autodesk applications. With the breadth and depth of the Autodesk portfolio, a comprehensive Autodesk based solution utilizing ShipConstructor can be implemented for a wide variety of complex enterprise-level business challenges.
This is because ShipConstructor products have an underlying AutoCAD engine and the core technology is consistent with the entire Autodesk Platform. ShipConstructor is as tightly integrated with the Autodesk portfolio as other Autodesk products. Consequently, Autodesk products (Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Navisworks, Autodesk Vault, etc.) treat ShipConstructor as if it is a native AutoCAD vertical, allowing seamless integration.
Marine Information Modeling
SSI has pioneered an approach called Marine Information Modeling or MIM which enables true concurrent engineering and promotes interoperability with other business processes and applications. At the core of MIM is a complete virtual model of the entire vessel including each of the various disciplines, from hull production design and structural detailing, to outfitting and assembly sequencing. All work within a single integrated environment , sharing a consistent interface, and are connected via a project database that stores the intelligence, relationships, attribute information and 3D model, plus the rules and standards used in the product model’s composition. The information within the database is associative at every level, beginning with the industry specific standards used to create the model and extending all the way to the automatically generated AutoCAD based production documentation used in the shipyard. This depth of associativity offered by MIM makes ShipConstructor the only solution that allows an engineering department to implement True Concurrent Engineering.
Generic CAD/CAM applications are often targeted at discrete manufacturing. They typically lack a centralized hub or database that facilitates management of the overall project and associativity within the model. Some data may be exchanged between CAD tools, but in many cases, each user’s actions are disassociated from another’s and information within the model quickly becomes out of date as changes are made. Non-generic CAD/CAM applications created for the shipbuilding, plant design or offshore industries often do have a single database but unfortunately, they often lack a unified interface which causes difficulties in training and skill transfer across disciplines.
By contrast, ShipConstructor’s MIM approach allows for a product model that remains associative to the industry specific standards and rules used to create it, even when those standards cross disciplines. For example, the structural materials used to compose pipe supports or penetrations are defined from and remain associative to the structural standards used throughout the project. The associativity within ShipConstructor’s Marine Information Modeling has also been extended to the production drawing level via an innovative technology called Associative DWG.
Another advantage of Marine Information Modeling is that it allows information sharing between ERP, MRP, PLM and other enterprise applications. Without the associative, MIM repository of intelligent data, information can only be exchanged at the lowest common level. Inevitably, to find a common data level for exchange of information, associative attributes and additional intelligent data has to be stripped away, resulting in lost value and rework. Marine Information Modeling is therefore an essential part of the solution to this challenge.
Associative DWG allows AutoCAD based DWG production drawings, generated from the product model, to remain attached to the Marine Information Model and updated automatically as changes occur. These associative drawings can be modified using native AutoCAD tools as well as industry specific tools offered within ShipConstructor. The linkage to DWGs is critical because even if an organization uses a competing shipbuilding CAD/CAM software suite, it typically still uses AutoCAD to create drawings because AutoCAD is recognized as having the best drafting capabilities and is the standard for deliverables. ShipConstructor is the only solution that allows DWG based drawings to remain connected to the original engineering tools while being modified and published in the format chosen by much of the industry.
ShipConstructor is superior to generic CAD solutions, or those developed for other industries, because it is designed to address the specific needs of the shipbuilding industry. Unlike these other solutions, ShipConstructor has been purpose-built on a foundation of shipbuilding expertise, concepts and terminology. This makes the software a natural fit for both the overall organization as well as the individual designers.
Other software packages were originally created to meet the specific and sometimes diametrically opposed challenges of industries such as discrete manufacturing or plant design. Shipbuilding has similarities to both. It is similar to discrete manufacturing in that it contains repeatable, modular, assembly-based construction. At the same time, with a large volume of ‘engineer to order’ parts and very large, very complex projects, shipbuilding also shares many characteristics with the building and plant construction industries. A shipbuilding specific solution is therefore required to successfully accommodate aspects of these other industries as well as those specific to shipbuilding.
ShipConstructor software has been deliberately designed to match standard industry processes, terminology and concepts. With technology designed to scale with the largest shipbuilding projects, associative and parametric ship specific 3D modeling capabilities, and industry specific production output that promotes modular construction, ShipConstructor truly thinks shipbuilding.