Damen leads the way in maritime innovation
The Damen Shipyards Group has a long tradition of innovation. The standardised shipbuilding concept for which we are so renowned is just one example of this. Since Kommer Damen introduced this in 1969, there have been many more innovations that Damen has either delivered itself or has had a role in delivering. The Sea Axe Hull that defines the appearance of so many Damen vessel is one such innovation – and one which makes sailing safer and more comfortable.
Today, innovation is growing in relevance within our industry and we see more and more of our clients, suppliers and competitors involved in innovation projects – often in close collaboration with each other.
As you would expect, Damen is once again at the forefront of this – often in cooperation with our clients and partners from within and outside the maritime industry. The following pages offer just a few examples of the many innovations that Damen has worked on recently or is currently investigating.
Stepping into the virtual world for a look at the vessels of the future
Damen is at the forefront of the development of virtual reality (VR). In a sneak preview of the design and development process of the vessels of the future, the company is currently investigating the effectiveness of VR with a virtual model of a Royal Netherlands Navy Holland Class OPV.
VR has a lot of potential; it is an excellent way for someone interested in a vessel to view it before purchase. For the shipbuilder, it allows the finalisation of the design parameters before construction begins.
Furthermore, it also enables the viewer to experience design elements that would not be so clear on a drawing – such as sightlines and headroom. And it also offers the opportunity for multiple viewers to participate in a vessel tour simultaneously, even from different physical locations.
From a training perspective, VR offers strong cost reduction potential. With VR, the entire vessel can be simulated for training, without having to build any physical structure or components.
Hardware In The Loop
Simulating operations before building leads to improved performance and cost reduction
A process used to much success in other industries, for example the automotive sector, Hardware In The Loop (HIL) replaces a physical part of a machine or system with a simulation. This allows the testing and improvement of systems integration and controls design before construction begins.
Perhaps uniquely within the shipbuilding industry, Damen has used HIL on recent vessel projects – MV Sycamore for the Royal Australian Navy and Bibby Marine Services’ Bibby WaveMaster 1.
Using a DSpace simulator alongside the regular software that it uses to test components, Damen has been able not only to avoid error, but to significantly improve vessel performance. As a result of applying HIL, the threat of problems with interfacing and software functionality is taken care of in the development stage, greatly reducing the risk of problems during commissioning and/or trials.
Damen quickly realised that this not only avoided costly errors, but also allowed the improvement of performance and safety. Damen is continuing to develop its HIL analysis, considering ways in which it can support clients with their training needs.
Making the tender process simple for dredging contractors
Every dredging project requires contractors to make calculations based on a variety of parameters. It can be a time-consuming – and therefore costly – process, but is a necessary part of tendering. To counter this, Damen has come up with Sandy, a unique, free online dredge job calculator to reduce the burden.
With just a few mouse clicks users can enter the defining characteristics of the job at hand – be it maintenance, sand or capital dredging – and the instant result provides advice on which cutter suction dredger to use. Sandy also demonstrates which options would be complementary; the simple addition of a spud carriage, booster station or anchor boom, for example, revealing immediately the efficiency gains this would bring to the project.
3D printed propeller
In just seven months, the first 3D printed propeller goes from idea to reality
In 2017 Damen took part in a joint research project that led, in just seven months, to the development of the world’s first class-approved 3d printed propeller. The propeller was fabricated by a RAMLAB to a Promarin 1,350mm diameter triple blade design.
RAMLAB applied a Valk Welding System and Autodesk software to create the propeller from a nickel aluminium bronze alloy using the wire arc additional manufacturing method – which gives the propeller its name of WAAMpeller.
The consortium then tested the propeller on a Tier III compliant engine on board a Damen Stan Tug 1606. The testing programme included bollard pull, crash stop and speed trials.
The WAAMpeller displayed the same behaviours as a conventionally casted propeller. The development, production and testing process was verified by Bureau Veritas. The WAAMpeller project has a lot of implications for the production of vessel components in the future.
Read more in our press-release World’s first class approved 3D printed ship’s propeller unveiled.
Opening a centralised gateway towards vessel optimisation
The various Damen product groups have long kept a close eye on the increasing pace of digitisation. However, with the creation of Damen Digital, the group has brought these initiatives together into a centralised structure for the first time. The aim is to create a gateway where all the data from systems and equipment aboard Damen vessels will be channeled. Damen will then be able to extract this information, learn from it and apply it to its vessel designs for optimised operational and cost-efficiency.
For example, this includes the remote monitoring of fuel consumption patterns. The findings of which can be incorporated into the designs of the future to lower emissions and ensure savings. Remote monitoring can also shed light on equipment performance, to ensure the correct equipment is used for a given application.
This enables Damen to optimise its production processes accordingly. Digital monitoring also paves the way to more precise scheduled maintenance planning, extending the periods between maintenance based on accurate monitoring of, for example, fuel and oil quality.
Similar practice has had much success in the automotive industry where such in-depth knowledge of components and parts wear has led to demonstrable cost savings and maximised uptime. Damen is working closely with its clients in the development of Damen Digital.
Damen Safety Glass
Harbour towage operations get a safety boost
Always looking for ways to make operating its vessels safer, Damen, in conjunction with a client and with TŰV Rheinland, has developed Damen Safety Glass. The new glass follows the lead of the automotive industry and, therefore, is shatterproof like that found in cars. The glass features two layered panes with a foil between them. The foil serves to capture any debris that may result from a shattered window.
TŰV Rheinland tested various configurations of glass, dropping weighted balls onto panels to measure the effect, before arriving at the optimal solution.
During the research programme all aspects of safety were considered. For example, it became clear that, due to the increased strength of the glass, a separate escape route needed to be integrated into the vessel to enable personnel to evacuate in the event of an emergency.
The Damen RSD Tug 2513 is the first Damen vessel to feature the new Safety Glass.
Dirk Degroote, Product Manager Tugs, said of the project, “It’s a simple move, but an important one. And combined with a wheelhouse that has been developed to offer the maximum possible view of what’s happening on deck and beyond, it represents a huge step forward in crew protection.”
Virtual Towing Tank Project
In search of the optimal hull design process
Damen is currently undertaking a three-year programme to develop in-depth technical knowledge of computation fluid dynamics (CFD) tools in a project named the virtual towing tank project (VTT). The objective of this is to optimise the design process of hulls, making it faster, cheaper and more accurate.
The objective is to reduce – or completely eliminate – the need for physical scale models in a towing tank, via the alternative use of sophisticated computer models to perform the same tests in a virtual environment.
To achieve this, the VTT project is investing in the verification, validation and implementation of a range of CFD tools. As the project uses a cloudbased system, Damen companies throughout the group can share a workspace, facilitating a global, realtime collaboration. Damen is working with external partners on the project, including the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) and the Delft University of Technology. Damen clients are already benefitting from the project, which has enabled faster delivery, lower build costs and reduced operating costs as a result of smaller propulsion systems.
Tapping into Damen’s talent
In a bid to harvest the company’s full potential, Damen issued an invitation to all employees to take part in an ideation challenge – Project Morpheus. The aim was to encourage employees to place their ideas in a ‘contest of innovation’, where they would compete for a chance of realisation.
The most successful ideas – those that made it through the ‘Project Morpheus Boot Camp’ went on to be developed.
Project Morpheus was a great success; following the call, Damen employees from 20 different Damen locations submitted over 250 ideas. From these, seven went on to be developed.
Five of these were incorporated into existing programmes, whilst the remaining two became the following two entries of this Innovation Special focus.
Improving sustainability and accuracy with augmented reality
With the dual aim of reducing both human error and improved production performance, Damen’s Paperless Yard project is also a first step towards introducing augmented reality in our production.
Via an app on a smart phone or tablet, the dimensions of measured pipes are collected with augmented reality within an accuracy of 1mm.
Digitising the process in this way eliminates the need for error prone manual measurements and sketches.
It is, says Solco Reijnders, Damen Program Manager Innovation,
A very practical application of technology that speeds up the process and improves accuracy, truly complementing our experts on site.
Making waves with RiPL
Collaboration and the rapid development of a new type of vessel
In late 2017 a team of trusted suppliers came together with Damen specialists for a co-creation project – RiPL. Their mission was to develop a multi-purpose harbour workboat able to transport up to three personnel and conduct harbour surveys as well as line-handling, towage, buoy-laying and patrol duties. Sounds like a challenge, but RiPL – consisting of Damen, Pon Power, Van Der Leun, ADS/VAN Stigt and ZF – had a unique approach.
The idea was to remove the element of ‘Chinese whispers’. In a conventional arrangement, there is a short line of communication between the client and the shipbuilder, though not necessarily between the client and the engineers of Damen and our suppliers, who are ultimately responsible for developing the solutions.
RiPL brought all stakeholders to the table at the same time and gave them four days to achieve the impossible. The close communication between all parties saw the Harbourman vessel conceived of in just two days and by day four, the basic concept was ready.
Solco Reijnders, Damen’s Program Manager Innovation, says,
The knowledge we were missing was available from our suppliers. With everybody investing in a project and collaborating it happens faster and with better results.