European ship building has achieved an important market share through its ability to innovate. This is achieved both through new concepts and the structural optimisation of the entire ship development cycle. Such optimisation has the possibility to produce smarter ships that are better both in terms of operation and cost.
IMPROVE applies this innovation to produce critical innovative improvements to three product categories. These are:
1. Gas carriers (LNG)
Europe has constructed several LNG gas carriers of between 72 000 and 140 000. Several key issues are associated with the development of new LNG structural concept:
- combining fatigue assessment reliably within the early design stage;
- developing concepts concerning new markets for very large LNG gas carriers;
- optimising design for production in terms of workload distribution between the different workshops.
2. Large RoPax
Ropax is an increasingly important class and in the last five years. This has been an important sector for some yards such as the Uljanik Shipyard in Croatia. To be competitive against strong global competition, the ship concept must be in line with ship owners' needs in terms of the current and future market conditions.
3. Chemical tanker
Basic tankers are ordered by owners for the short term. Most tankers are used for a very short time by the operator that orders the ship and is then resold. Such ships are constructed by low cost producers, typically outside the EU and are purchased only on the basis of short term cost. Designs on this basis are not relevant to integrating long-term operational and maintenance costs in the design. However concepts for chemical tankers that are optimised for a long operational life (>15 years) will have lower total life cycle costs. These are attractive concepts for ship owners, both in terms of the direct operational cost and higher resale values.
The generic objectives of the project are:
- to develop improved generic ship designs based upon multiple criteria mathematical models (LNG gas carriers, chemical tankers, large RoPax);
- to improve and apply rational models for estimation of the design characteristics in the early design phase;
- to use and reformulate basic models of multiple criteria ship design, and include them into an integrated decision-support system for ship production and operation.
In addition, there are some specific objectives for each new product.
1. Gas carriers (LNG)
Develop a new market with the design of very large LNG gas carriers. It is important for Aker Yard to investigate such new products so as to be able to compete against Korean shipyards, which have already designed such large vessels.
- How to perform reliable fatigue assessment at the early design stage;
- determine the optimum sequence of production and the workload distribution between the different workshops.
2. Large RoPax
The arrangement of a large space without pillars requires sophisticated structure solutions. The benefits will be reduced ship weight, better stability and a smaller gross tonnage.
The challenge is to improve on the rule of structural design at an early stage of design (concept stage), find an optimal design solution with the IMPROVE tools and continue the design process in the preliminary stages with a better starting point/design.
3. Chemical tanker
Improvement of the earliest design steps by:
- intelligent models to assess fatigue, ultimate strength, vibrations, design and accidental loads;
- a rational approach to integrate these models with the design and estimate overall life cycle savings.
The IMPROVE Research and Technical Development tasks include:
- identification of new product concepts and stakeholders' requirements, establishing problem and model definitions;
- identification of structural load and response calculation modules;
- assessment of production and operational aspects;
- integration of identified models from above-mentioned work packages;
- application of an integrated IMPROVE platform for the design of three new generations of products;
- exploitation and dissemination activities of the project results.
The IMPROVE consortium identified the next generation of large ROPAX ship, product / chemical carrier and LNG gas carrier as the vessels the most suitable for European yards to focus their energies on. These products are:
- a new generation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) gas carrier to enhance the competitiveness of European shipyard like CAT-ALSTOM
- an innovation concept of large ROPAX for a European ship-owner like GRIMALDI, and finally
- a chemical production carrier / tankers, which are of the first interest for European shipyard as Szczecin new shipyard (SSN), as this type of tankers is a 'niche' for such shipyards.
Main outcomes of the IMPROVE projects are:
- The design by STX France of a new concept of LNG carriers with reduced ballast that provides a significant benefit for the ship-owners. In addition a weight saving of 10-15% has been identified and reduction of production cost of 5% is also reached;
- The design of Uljanik Shipyard (Croatia) of an improved ROPAX with reduced fuel consumption due to new ROPAX propulsion concept. The structural optimisation has also showed a significant reduction of the weight for an improved safety with regards to the BV classification society requirements;
- The design of a new general arrangement of a chemical tanker including reduced weight of duplex steel, intensive use of corrugated bulkhead for an improved safety with regards to the classification society requirements.
Detailed conclusions with quantitative assessments of the benefits of the three new IMPROVE concepts are given in Dubrovnik papers and presented during the final workshop in Croatia on 17-19 September 2009. The Conference documents are published in two volumes and are here available in the section 'Documents'.