STX France Structural Field Cooperation to Enhance Intergraph Smart™ 3D

With the help of Intergraph SmartMarine® Enterprise and Intergraph Smart™ 3D, the STX France shipyard implemented a more integrated system addressing the whole project life cycle with the purpose to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and speed up the projects.

Owned at 66.6 percent by STX Europe – itself a 100-percent owned subsidiary of the Korean STX Business Group – and at 33.3 percent by the French state, STX France SA is a designer and builder of high added-value ships. Two shipyards are part of STX France, one located in Saint-Nazaire with 2,100 employees and the other one in Lorient with 110 employees.

The Challenge

The engineering and shipbuilding expertise of the STX France shipyard has been internationally renowned for 150 years on the complex ship market (passenger ships from 30,000 to 160,000 UMS navy ships). The company has in-house expertise in naval architecture and engineering, mastering the whole value chain, from design to fabrication, integration, and services. The scope of building one of these ships is huge. For an OverPnamax cruise ship (1,650 passenger cabins), one million design hours are needed, which takes 20 months. It requires 250,000 steel parts and 30,000 tons of steel (four times the weight of the Eiffel Tower). Manufacturing and assembly takes 15 months, for a final weight of 55,000 tons. 

STX France has been using CAD systems for more than 25 years, but it required an integrated system to tackle all phases of construction, from basic and detailed design, to industrialization, panel cutting, and panel pre-outfitting. A more integrated system addressing the whole project life cycle would increase efficiency, reduce errors, and speed up the project, enabling STX France to be more competitive in a global market where Asia-Pacific shipyards are leading the way in new orders.

“The tools we used have reached their maximum capacity,” explained Paul Lemoine, Hull CAD Expert at STX France. A new integrated system would provide STX with the opportunity to work in a multi-discipline environment, reinforce transversal integration (steel hull/piping/electricity/accommodation/HVC), and add value to different tasks by the integration of rules and by reducing time-consuming post-control activities. After benchmark research, STX France chose SmartMarine® Enterprise, and particularly Intergraph Smart™ 3D as its design tool for the future.

Once the tool was chosen, there was a realization that some co-development was needed to ensure the solution could be competitive in the shipbuilding sector for many years to come. The work focused on improving the catalog, hull structure, process optimization, and accommodation.

To ensure the product achieved the added value sought by the customer, Intergraph and STX worked together to create complex plate geometry, member positioning, parametric objects creation, and plane by three-point features, among other developments. The co-development team also worked on assembly shrinkage, 2D Sketcher, and item split system and integration with topology. Other features subject to development included assembly bounding box optimization, draft drawing, geometry for offline programming tools, grids, panel line geometry, plate jig, templates, POSNO, and naming rules, plus split profiles by openings or temporary openings features were also included.

“After these efforts, we trust Smart 3D to efficiently design high added-value vessels. We are confident that this collaboration has provided us with the most innovative and efficient solution for our core business,” said Mr. Joseph-Marie Pineau, Head of the Hull Engineering Division.

The Solution

Based on Intergraph’s state of the art technology, the two companies assigned dedicated teams to ensure that developments were well on track. These developments, which were tested and also verified by end users, included:

  • Parametric objects: Where holes are created using S2D sketcher, with few constraints, the goal was to create holes with constrains on structural objects, which were created directly on the 3D mock-up.
  • Light detailing: Before changes were introduced, users had to detail all connected objects, including unnecessary parts, via Detailing Task. The goal was to detail objects in structural requirements to achieve integration and a better classification.
  • Complex plate geometry: Initially, most of the boundary description was based on S2D description. The goal was to improve the use of Advanced Plate System (APS) and topology in the 2D sketcher. In addition, specific surfaces were imported via dedicated software.
  • Member positioning: Initially, the final position of an object was not linked with the structural objects, which was problematic in case of introducing changes in the design. The goal was to improve the feature flexibility to accurately place objects with geometrical constraints on structural objects.
  • Split root systems: Initially, the object description was attached to few root systems. The goal was to enable concurrent design and reduce the number of objects per system.

These improvements have enabled STX to reach the level of confidence required to manage a unique CAD model (including all businesses), from Basic Design to Manufacturing. The main features of the co-development were included in the latest Smart 3D 2014 release.