Striving to be the most sustainable and connected shipbuilder in the world, family-owned Damen Shipyards Group transforms its approach to shipbuilding by implementing the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The company uses Designed for Sea and Build for Sea industry solution experiences to standardize its processes across the organization, starting with the Naval and Workboats divisions. The platform will serve as the backbone for product lifecycle management, integrating design, engineering, manufacturing engineering within a single, connected digital environment.
Characterized by its complex, labor-intensive, and globalized supply chain, shipbuilding has long been flagged as an industry that’s ripe for digital transformation. Growing market demand for customized, sustainable, and cost-competitive vessels puts shipbuilders under pressure to find new ways of driving efficiencies across their business, becoming more innovative and delivering service-centric business models. Inspired by the success that other industries have achieved through digitalization, marine companies are following suit.
Leading the way is the Damen Group. The family-owned business has been building ships since 1927 and today has 35 shipyards and 12,000 employees globally. Damen’s ambition is to become the most sustainable maritime solution provider and is increasingly delivering vessels as part of a tailored services package to optimize how they’re managed throughout their lifecycle. Moving from a product-centric to a service-centric company relies on Damen’s ability to achieve a continuous data flow across its value chain. That’s why it has embarked on a journey to consolidate its IT applications and bring its engineering offices, shipbuilding sites, and other stakeholders into a centralized digital environment – the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform.
“To deliver on our long-term strategy – customer-centric, operational excellence, digitalization, and sustainability – we’re reevaluating our entire technology landscape,” said Aart Rupert, chief digital officer at the Damen Group. “Our customers increasingly expect us to deliver high quality, innovative, autonomous, and sustainable solutions, and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides the foundation to connect our business, accelerate innovation, and become future-proof.”
Becoming a data-driven organization will allow Damen to handle complex vessel configurations and design changes in an agile manner, plan manufacturing, assembly, and maintenance early in the design phase, and collaborate effectively with its suppliers and customers to keep projects on time and within budget.
“The 3DEXPERIENCE platform will support us to deliver higher quality, cost competitive, and configurable products to market faster than anybody else, monitor the full environmental impact of our vessels, and make the way we do business even more compelling,” said Joost Mathot, director of products in the Damen Workboats division.
From silos to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform
Damen’s journey to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is well underway. Already, the company uses the platform’s design and engineering capabilities across its Naval division, which is benefiting from seamless integration between CATIA and ENOVIA for design and product lifecycle management; and has started to deploy the solution in the Workboats division.
“Our philosophy is standardization and reuse,” Aart Rupert said. “We needed to be more effective in our engineering. We wanted to be able to work from one data model from requirements to manufacturing and that’s what the 3DEXPERIENCE platform allows us to do.”
Damen’s Naval division has gone from being organized in siloes and using more than 200 spreadsheet-based applications with different product definitions and number systems to a single data management environment on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. For such an extensive IT implementation, it was important to Damen that it partnered with a leading technology provider with proven industry know-how and a successful track record. The company also benefited from Dassault Systèmes’ Value Engagement approach, which helped to determine its IT requirements against key business objectives, mitigate risks, and, ultimately, define and roll out its digital roadmap.
“Getting to this point required us to change our entire workflow,” Aart Rupert said. “Transformations like this take time and we must be very disciplined about the steps we take.”
“We chose Dassault Systèmes as it has the most comprehensive suite of applications and the best experience and reputation in the industries that we look to as an example,” Joost Mathot added. “Dassault Systèmes’ strategic vision aligns with our own values.”
Traceability across the marine value chain
Today, around 800 workers in Damen Naval use the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on a daily basis. Achieving a seamless interface between system design, engineering and manufacturing within the virtual environment means that when anything is updated on the vessel, such as piping, everyone involved can see the full impact of those changes on the 3D model.
“When you model a piping system in the ship, you need a lot of data to route it successfully,” said Jarno Rottier, an engineer at Damen Naval. “Because we now have integration between our diagrams and engineering bill of materials (eBOM), if something changes on the diagram, then we’re notified in the 3D model. It leaves less room for error as we can see what everyone else is doing. And there is no more transferring data between different applications; everything is live.”
This traceability is crucial for Damen’s involvement in pioneering projects to modernize naval fleets, where it must collaborate closely with industry partners and meet stringent end-user requirements.
“Our clients need to know exactly what’s on their ships and it’s very important that we can deliver all that information in a digital model,” said Matthijs den Broer, structural engineer at Damen Naval. “We need to be able to show every modification we’ve made along the way, and how those changes are replicated in other vessels in the series. It helps us reconcile our designs with what’s actually built.”
Configuring vessels virtually
Damen is now focused on integrating the 3DEXPERIENCE platform into its Workboats division – and eventually its shipyards – to achieve similar results in terms of traceability and efficiency. Being able to see the bigger picture will help the company streamline its workflows and effectively plan how construction work is shared out across its shipyards based on specialty and location.
“There is lots of room for optimization and efficiency in our design and build processes,” Joost Mathot said. “Our scattered application landscape has prevented us from having a total end-to-end view across our product development, which we hope to rectify. We’re currently gearing up on change management training and moving our current portfolio into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.”
As Damen transitions more of its processes and business units into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, it not only expects to be able to work more efficiently but also transform its entire engineering approach. The Workboats division has already moved from complex engineer-to-order (ETO) to configure-to-order (CTO) production cycles – manufacturing vessels that can be rapidly configured to meet customers’ specific needs – and others will follow suit, supporting the company to scale up production and take advantage of further economies of scale.
“For workboats, the name of the game is standardization,” Joost Mathot said. “We want to reuse the same designs, assemblies, and control logic across as many of our products as possible.”
Even the Damen Naval division, specialized in customized ETO projects and small production series, hopes to achieve greater efficiencies through design data replication and reuse in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
“In the future, we might have a baseline ship with various options for our customers to configure based on their specific needs,” Jarno Rottier said. “In the piping stream, we’re already getting as much data in the platform to build up a product catalog.”
“And in the structures team, as we switch between ships in the same series, we’ll be able to use a lot of the same data,” Matthijs den Broer added.
Sustainable vessel lifecycles in the virtual twin
As the sustainability imperative puts the onus on shipbuilders to reduce the environmental impact of the ships they develop, it will be up to leaders like Damen to take advantage of virtual twin capabilities to extend the lifespan of fleets, monitor vessels’ systems and components to optimize operational performance and carry out smart, predictive maintenance.
“The platform and its virtual twin capabilities will help us do that,” Aart Rupert said. “We’ve already built one of the most complex vessels we’ve ever done in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, and we’ll be using it to support its full lifecycle.”
Like most digital transformations of such significant scope, complexity, and scale, Damen’s transition to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a journey that requires a huge commitment. Replacing old systems with new ones takes time and while the stakes are high, the company believes its investment will pay off.
“My ultimate goal is that we have a foundation – a system of record – that goes all the way from requirements management to service management and accelerates the delivery of pioneering solutions to our customers that will define a new era of digital and sustainable shipbuilding,” Aart Rupert concluded. “I truly believe in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and see the value it could bring to the Damen Group. Without it, we cannot innovate.