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HOLISHIP: from birth to berth

The Naval Architect: November 2016

Funded with an €11.3 million (US$12.45 million) grant by the Horizon 2020 Transport Research Programme of the European Union, HOLISHIP will develop the next generation of ship design systems for the needs of the European maritime industry by adopting a holistic, life-cycle approach to ship design and operation capable of meeting tomorrow’s challenges.

In the coming years this new column will regularly report on the project’s achievements and allow readers to follow HOLISHIP’s evolution and dissemination of results.

The design of ships and of maritime assets is in general a complex endeavour requiring the successful coordination of many disciplines, of both a technical and non-technical nature, and of individual experts to arrive at valuable design solutions; this includes the complex and multi-disciplinary nature of a ship’s operation.

A systemic approach to ship design and operation considers the ship as a complex system integrating a variety of subsystems and their components, e.g. subsystems for energy/power generation and ship propulsion, for cargo storage and handling, accommodation of crew/passengers and ship navigation. Inherently coupled with ship design and operation and related decision making is optimisation, namely the selection of the best solution out of many feasible ones on the basis of a criterion, or rather a set of criteria.

Ship design should inherently address the whole ship’s life cycle; accordingly, it is traditionally split into various stages consisting of the concept/preliminary design, the contractual and detailed design, the ship construction/fabrication process, the ship operation over its economic life and finally ship’s scrapping/recycling.

In practice today and depending on the degree of integration of modern ICT into the ship design process (which greatly varies between yards and design offices), only parts of the above ship’s life cycle are integrated on a common data and software platform. Thus, decision making is based, to a great extent (if at all), on the synthesis of best solutions of individual part problems. It is evident, however, that the optimal ship will be the outcome of a holistic optimisation of the entire, above defined ship system, its subsystems and components over its whole life cycle, where “the whole is more than the sum of the parts” (Aristotle Metaphysics).

We note, of course, that even the simplest subsystem/component of the above defined optimisation problem is complex enough to be often modelled in a simplified (reduced) way in practice. Inherent to the optimisation of ship design and operation are also the conflicting requirements resulting from design and operational constraints and optimisation criteria (merit or objective functions), reflecting conflicting interests of various stake holders in the maritime transport chain, the stability/instability of market conditions and the associated transport demand and supply, the variability of the operational conditions over ship’s life cycle, the cost of raw materials (shipbuilding steel) and energy, the type and cost of fuels, and the change of regulatory requirements with respect to ship’s safety and the ecology of the marine environment. 

The HOLISHIP approach brings together all relevant main disciplines of maritime product design and operation under the umbrella of advanced parametric modelling tools and integrated software platforms. This enables parametric, multi-objective optimisation of the product ship or of marine assets in general.

Market analysis and operational data, hull form and structural design, adaptation of prime movers, propulsors and main outfitting, economic, efficiency and environmental considerations form the mission requirements and enable the formulation of a rational foresight analysis for the viability of the product model over its life cycle. For achieving its goals, HOLISHIP is integrating techno-economical databases, calculation and optimisation algorithms, modern GUI and information exchange systems, allowing the exploration of the design space to a much larger extent than in today’s practice.

This leads to new insights and promising new design alternatives. Even more, depending on the degree of fidelity of the employed/integrated geometry models and the software tools, it inherently offers the option of generating virtual prototypes/digital mock-ups of the product.

Within HOLISHIP, virtual prototyping is understood as digital mock-ups of varying complexity, namely for concept development, design exploration and optimisation, design prototyping and optimisation at the stage of contract design, modelling and optimisation of ship operation, including refined modelling of main systems and components, dynamic modelling and assessment of the ship-prime mover/propulsor-environment interaction (‘Virtual Vessel Demonstrator’ VVD).

Two well established design software platforms will be used in HOLISHIP for the integration of software tools, the processing of work flow and the generation of the Digital Mock-Ups (DMA), namely CAESES, which is being supported by Friendship Systems and CPACS supported by DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt). Both software platforms will be presented in a forthcoming issue of The Naval Architect.

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