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Legacy data in the digital transformation of shipbuilding

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Written by Ludmila Seppälä

Posted on April 04, 2022

Shipyards are increasingly embracing the immense possibilities offered by advanced digitalization in the shipbuilding life cycle. A cornerstone of digital transformation is reliable and modern software tools that facilitate the process. The digital fabric of shipbuilding consists of data threads that originate from various specialized applications. There are commonly numerous different software solutions involved in a shipbuilding project, hundreds of engineers and designers, several companies located in different countries and continents, and even several building sites.

Making changes in a shipyard’s software landscape is no trivial matter. These changes can, however, deliver higher levels of productivity and digitalization.

One of the key considerations is how legacy data from previous systems and projects can be migrated effectively and how the data can be accessed and reused where necessary. There is currently no universal data exchange format in the shipbuilding industry and the complexity of linking design data with production and construction processes must always be kept in mind.

When changing to a new CAD software system, there are generally three different scenarios for the use of legacy data.

Scenario 1: Access to legacy data

The simplest and cheapest scenario is when only access to legacy project data is required and no reuse is expected. In this case it is advisable to store the data in an information management platform, such as CADMATIC eShare.

It provides access to legacy data and ongoing projects, including 3D CAD data with inbuilt conversion possibilities for the main CAD formats, 2D documentation, options to integrate with external file storage or DMS/PDM systems, and laser-scanned data upload.

Scenario 2: Conversion and reuse of CAD data

CAD data conversion is considerably more complex. Several aspects require consideration, including the data structure, geometrical shape, and possible topological linkage between parts and between the 3D model and 2D documents. Depending on the case, the solution may involve converting only some parts, such as the equipment library and piping components, or the conversion of entire 3D CAD model.

When converting an entire 3D CAD model, the original CAD system needs to provide export in the selected format, while the target system needs to handle the complexity of conversion and mapping. A middleware integrator often needs to be involved as proprietary CAD databases are highly specialized and their structures are often not shared between major market players in shipbuilding. CADMATIC has realized these kinds of native data transfer and conversion projects to CADMATIC from the following systems: Aveva Marine Outfitting®, PDMS®, Tribon®, NAPA®, and Nestix®.

Scenario 3: Multi-CAD systems

The use of different CAD systems for simultaneous design is the most complex scenario for shipbuilding software. It comes with high levels of complexity and administration and infrastructure support costs. The complexity arises from bi-directional automated export-conversion-import and use of native editable data in each system.

Usually, middleware integration and a conversion layer are necessary to facilitate the process. While exporting, mapping, converting, and importing data represent a straightforward workflow, an additional business logic might be applied.

A thorough analysis of shipyard processes and needs is required before embarking on the path to digital transformation. No shipyard is the same, but tried and tested approaches and the help of an experienced partner can facilitate the process.

CADMATIC, as a developer and supplier of the fastest-growing shipbuilding solutions on the market, has decades of experience in facilitating the most complex data migration projects and can assist any shipyard in the digital transformation journey and handling of legacy data.