We just finished our SSI America’s User Conference in beautiful Mobile, Alabama. It was an awesome event as usual and exhausting in a good way! There were so many great presentations from SSI that focused on how our users are maximizing SSI products today. There were also some presentations from our partners, showing the blurred lines between where SSI ends, and their solutions begin. It was awesome to see the seamless workflows between our products, which is exactly the vision we had to showcase the true power of a truly open software architecture.
I am on my way back from the Future of Maritime Summit and SMM which is the largest international maritime show in the world. It is a great place for me to connect with many clients as well as non-clients to get a more holistic view of the industry. The industry does seem to be picking up momentum with companies feeling very optimistic about their future. This is a significant change from SMM just 2 years ago. There are several reasons for this optimism. For instance, the cruise industry is booming with record orders. Another reason is that there are new regulations requiring more eco-friendly ships which either require a retro-fit of an existing ship or a brand new ship. An additional reason for optimism is the higher demand for government ships (navy, army, coast guard, etc.)
SMM Maritime Show
One noticeable trend is that every single person I talked to knows that they need to change the way they work and are required to evolve their business. The majority are making “changes” to their business or the way they run their business; however, the confidence that they are changing in the right way was very low. They do feel that their company is going through a Digital Transformation Illusion, changing for the sake of changing.
Just 3 years ago if you talked about a “cloud” solution in any shipbuilding environment you would simply get a “Not possible in Shipbuilding” response. However, in today’s modern shipbuilding organizations which are navigating the new potential of mature technology as well as redefining their businesses, the “cloud” often comes up in discussions. Even though most of our industry is not ready to adopt a cloud solution I find it at least positive that more shipbuilders are looking at the possibility of the cloud. There are many benefits that the cloud has but what is not usually discussed are the challenges we face with any cloud solution, even ignoring ITAR and other government regulations. You need to keep those challenges in mind before moving forward. After doing this analysis, you will probably find that you cannot immediately do everything in the cloud but leveraging at least some cloud solutions can add significant value to your business.
Last week I attended COMPIT (International Conference on Computer Applications and Information Technology in the Maritime Industries). As usual it was a great conference to get a sense of how technology will be applied to our industry. I have attended and presented at COMPIT for some time. Here are some of my blog posts from previous COMPIT conferences:
This year seemed to be an explosion (in a good way) of hot topics that relate to the shipbuilding and shipping industry. Pretty much every type of technology we have been reading about was well represented at the conference. To be honest I am still processing a lot of the information from the presentations, papers and conversations but thought I would provide a quick summary of thoughts on various topics covered.
Two weeks ago, I attended COFES (Congress On the Future of Engineering Software) which is one of the conferences I look forward to. I have written about my previous experiences several times.
This COFES was similar to others but slightly different. In the first several I found the discussions revolving around technology and not much about why our respective industries would leverage the new and shiny technology. This time at COFES there seemed to be more discussion about the business of technology with includes the needs of businesses as well as the people factor.
I am still digesting some of the great conversations, but I thought I would discuss one idea in particular which has taken a significant amount of brain power the last few weeks.
It revolves around the digital twin and why it is different than what we had before as well as why should businesses care.
A common strategy that is being implemented throughout our industry is to have a Digital Twin (Ship). However, many companies are falling into the trap of using their digital strategy to only improve the way they are working today. This focus on “cost cutting” is not optimal, unless you plan on just competing on price alone.
There is no doubt that a digital environment will significantly reduce the many non-value activities you have throughout your business. However, if cost cutting is the main driver you will be on a path to have minimized your costs for a world that no longer exists.
Technology is terraforming a new world where we need to rethink and change the value we are providing our clients. The future will not be an extension of the present and therefore a pure cost cutting initiative is short lived.
This is not to say that we should not continue to improve our processes and implement technology to reduce cost, it just simply should not be our primary focus. The primary focus needs to continue to be focused on adding more value and differentiating you from your competitors and then optimizing the areas which can accelerate the value.
In today’s modern shipbuilding it is common for us to receive several different types of CAD files. There are various valid reasons for this such as:
- The suppliers provide CAD formats in their native application or a “standard” (STEP, IGES, DWG, STL, SAT, IFC, etc.).
- The owner/client supplies files used for reference.
- A subcontractor supplies their deliverable in a non-native CAD format that is different from what you use internally.
- Your prime has provided reference geometry in a specific CAD format.
- You have old designs in a different CAD format than what you use today
- You are doing a repair or maintenance job so you get various different formats.
- Many many more.
No matter what the valid reason is, you will need to somehow be able to leverage the information in the other CAD formats to complete your task. Having your native CAD environment able to consume various different CAD formats will allow you to streamline your workflow no matter what CAD format you receive.
In this post I will show you how the SSI (ShipConstructor) engineering hub environment will aid you in leveraging over 30 different CAD formats. This should handle the majority of formats that are used within the shipbuilding industry. I will show you how to reference virtually any CAD within ShipConstructor while modeling native ShipConstructor parts. I will also show how to identify clashes between ShipConstructor and the other CAD files.
FYI: A list of file formats and a video demonstration is found at the end of the blog post.
(Image by drjimharris.com)
In the last few years I have seen a tremendous shift in our industry. Companies are now taking some really innovative and inspiring steps to transition our “traditional” industry into the modern world. I have also had several conversations with organizations and people who are looking at how the business of shipbuilding, shipping, offshore and even navies are, or can be distributed in the future. They are aware that the new possibility offered by the tools we have available today can change and enhance our businesses in ways we cannot fathom. We need to keep an open mind to be able to capitalize on the opportunities.
In my last blog post Challenges in Achieving Excellence in Shipbuilding I discussed the challenges that we face in the shipbuilding industry in adopting new technologies. There is no challenge that we will face which we will not be able to overcome. However, for those who ignore these real challenges or do not appreciate the complexity of them, their journey will not be very pleasant and might even have devastating results.
The shipbuilding industry has been ripe to exploit this new world and there is no doubt that it will transform in the coming years. I thought I would discuss some of the ways companies are moving forward and solving the challenges I mentioned in the previous post.
It seems no matter where you look you will read about how technology will change all aspects of our personal and our business lives. The promise of all the available and new “mature” technology will allow us to do the unimaginable. My most popular blog series is the Future of Shipbuilding (15+ years)
I am definitely one of those people who love technology and know it will transform our lives enough that we will not recognize it even 10 years from now. However, where I differ from most writing about technology is that I understand the difficulty from incorporating what seems to be “magical” technology into business, especially the business of shipbuilding. Instead of writing purely about technology I write from the intersection of my 3 passions Technology, Business, Shipbuilding.
In one of my last blog posts Shipbuilding Tech Predictions for 2018 I received a lot of feedback and comments about how I predicted that the shipbuilding industry will not see very much widespread adoption with many of the technologies in 2018. Some agreed and others wondered how a person who writes about the future of technology can be so pessimistic about our ability to adopt new technology.
First, I do not think I am a pessimist at all. I am an optimist but understand that incorporating any improvement into the shipbuilding industry takes time even if the technology is very mature. I could call myself a “realist” but I think everyone thinks or hopes they are…and I am no different.
I thought I would write a blog post about the main challenges we all need to overcome in our industry which is why I think the “initial” incorporation of technology is taking time and will continue to do so.
The top challenges I see are:
- Business Transformation is Required and it is Very Hard
- Our Current Culture Eats Our Strategy
- Software Platforms are Not Fully Capable for Shipbuilding, Yet
- Handling Legacy Data & Systems
- Inexperience with Implementation of Modern Technology
When I first got my first Virtual Reality (VR) headset over 2 ½ years ago, I, like most people, wondered how do I get my 3D model into VR? I quickly found out that without more investment in software or time I was not able to do much. This is when I started to research several options as well as started to engage with several experts in the VR community.
My Virtual Reality journey has been interesting and I have blogged about it throughout the years:
In this post I will list two solutions that have worked the best for me as well mention one solution you should stay away from unless you are in the business of software development and not shipbuilding. I should be clear that I have not tested all the possible solutions available; however, if there is one you would suggest I would love to try it out.