Old Country, New Technology

European shipbuilders collaborating online

Hamburg, Germany and Paris  August 7, 2001  Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW), located in Kiel, has announced the migration of their development, engineering and product data management onto digital and integrated processes. To achieve this, Germany's largest shipyard and world market leader in conventional-powered submarines signed an eight-digit euro contract with IBM and CENIT AG Systemhaus. "The migration to e-collaboration will make us much more competitive on an international level," said Hans-Joachim Schmidt, executive board member, HDW. "Not only will we be able to deliver our vessels faster, but we will also increase productivity and quality." This contract is one of the most important shipbuilding contracts for IBM PLM central region and represents for CENIT the largest IT project in its history.

The long-term collaboration agreement between HDW, IBM and CENIT AG covers a package of hardware, software and services. The first stage will include the installation, implementation and user training of 200 IBM workstations equipped with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions CATIA and ENOVIA 3D design software. Specialized shipbuilding modules will be developed through this collaboration. IBM will supply hardware and software and, together with CENIT, will provide all-encompassing conceptual work and consulting for the introduction. In the first step the implementation will focus on deep-sea marine vessels, such as submarines.

"This agreement represents a new emphasis of IBM's engagement in the shipbuilding industry," said Dr. Manfred Sammet, leader, IBM product lifecycle management Europe Middle East Africa region. "We will soon inaugurate the European Shipbuilding Competency Center in Hamburg to provide optimal support of the whole shipbuilding industry in the area of product lifecycle management for the continuous development and enhancement of industry-specific modules required by the shipbuilding industry."

In the context of increased competition and shrinking defense budgets, European shipyards are finding themselves forced to follow the aerospace industry lead of mergers and consolidation. Shipyards and suppliers will cooperate more closely, both worldwide and around the clock. Engineers, technicians and operations teams will work independently at separate locations, but will share access to crucial development and design date online within their company and supply chains. "Seamless electronic date exchange will be of extreme importance," explained Hubertus Manthey, managing director of CENIT. "There will no longer be a need to have manual exchange of information, as is the case today, since the existing software solutions were not integrated into the shipyard's other systems. With this agreement, this will become obsolete."

The availability of product data will enable the company to reuse existing parts or develop variants based on the digital models, shortening substantially entire phases of the development process. This is especially true regarding the use of modular design, which will be part of the first phase of HDW's implementation for next-generation submarines. Physical models will be replaced by virtual prototypes existing solely on the computer. "If you consider that today before going into production we must build an exact 1/5-scale plastic model for each submarine type. You can imagine the impact this has on the economics of our shipbuilding process as a whole," said Schmidt.