Oskar Lee of Victoria, BC, Canada based ShipConstructor Software has supplied Oil IT Journal with a paper* describing the state of the art in combined computer aided design/manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and intelligent product lifecycle management (PLM)—as applied to the design and construction of offshore oil rig fabrication. Lee describes the ongoing ‘revolution,’ driven by the offshore engineering boom, of 3D engineering models and associated databases. Today, database-driven CAD/CAM systems are used to build different designs of jackup rigs and production vessels, managing multiple complex engineering components and accommodating repetitive and last minute design revisions from owner operators and classification societies. Such systems can also integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to drive supply chain efficiencies and optimize investments.
Lee suggests that some technological innovation amounts to ‘distressed purchases’ in that it is only when an engineering company is faced with near-insurmountable problems of documentation, management and resource problems that a move to an integrated manufacturing system is initiated. Modeling the oil rig construction process involves everything from design to maiden voyage. Clients want an efficient product designed and engineered to the highest standard and built to the best quality in a planned timescale. But such simple models fail to embrace complex interactions between stakeholders such as designers, class societies and owner-operators. Even the simple task of ensuring that all project documentation is available to appropriate stakeholders in a timely and accurate fashion is a challenging objective in view of the immense data volumes. The aerospace industry migrated to computer based management tools when it realized that the sheer weight of documentation was overtaking the weight of the airplane!
Lee’s paper outlines a number of real-world builds where ShipConstructor’s AutoCAD-based engineering package and ‘Database Driven Relational Object Model’ were successfully deployed. The common project database approach links into specialists’ design and management tools and produces a quality product through a well coordinated production process. The initial pain of migration to CAD/CAM/PLM is worth it in the long term.
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