How the CIO of Meyer Werft is digitizing shipbuilding

How the CIO of Meyer Werft is digitizing shipbuilding

Paul Meyer, CIO of Meyer Werft, has brought two system worlds together in order to digitize shipbuilding as far as possible. […]

It is always a spectacle that attracts thousands of onlookers to Papenburg and to the north-west of Germany: a new cruise ship leaves the Meyer Werft shipyard to push its way on the Ems to the North Sea. However, this is nothing new for the company founded in 1795 with its approximately 3,700 employees and the two other shipyards in Rostock and Turku, Finland. Responsible for the IT of the entire group of companies is Paul Meyer, a PhD in business informatics and a representative of the family business.

The CIO fully impressed in the CIO of the Year competition with its platform “Meyplm” (PLM = Product Lifecycle Management). In order to understand what Meyer and his team are doing, it is helpful to keep in mind how complex and complex the construction of a cruise ship of more than 300 meters in length is and how many different trades have to be mapped. The construction of such a ship is similar to that of a floating city: 30,000 tons of steel, 2,500 kilometers of cables and 250 kilometers of pipes, more than 40,000 square meters of carpet, 220 tons of paint and many other components such as engines, air conditioning, satellite communications, pumps, etc.

In order for the components to land in the right place, a lot of drawings are needed. The scope of master data and parts lists has extraordinary dimensions. The digital design is crucial for success: first, a model of the steel body is created in 3D format, then the various parts are arranged in this room and the cables and pipes are laid – virtually.

In order to get ahead, Meyer Werft says goodbye to the classic departmental thinking (c) Meyer Werft

The MeyPLM platform consists of two powerful products that have been adapted to individual needs: Dassault Systemes 3DExperience (Catia) in the new V6 version and the shipbuilding solution from Cadmatic. But the engineers and designers could not wait until all modules and system parts had been fully developed and set up.

In order not to fall behind in the schedule of the cruise ship project, the 3D construction work on the platform was started at an early design stage of a cruise ship. At that time, other parts of the system were not yet fully configured and interfaces and adjustments still had to be programmed. The ocean giant, which is scheduled to be delivered in 2022, will be over 340 meters long and offer a sophisticated entertainment and tourism concept for 1,250 passengers.

“For us, MeyPLM is the start of a new era,” says Paul Meyer. The company relies on the platform’s detailed design information to provide manufacturing with design data for work preparation. The automated systems, including flame cutting machines, laser welding systems and welding robots, require special, machine-appropriate processing of the 3D information. According to the CIO, the close integration of the IT activities with the engineering work in the technical offices of the shipyard was particularly critical to the success.

In order to make rapid progress, Meyer Werft said goodbye to departmental thinking and classic project work. A steering committee was set up to make the central architectural decisions. The responsible project team was divided into several small mixed teams for each trade. The further development and operation of the platform was put together by the IT team in accordance with the DevOps approach.

“Meyer Werft is the first in the world to build a complete cruise ship on the new V6 version,” comments Accenture CEO Frank Riemensperger. He considers this “virtual design introduction in the middle of the operation” to be unique, where major steps are being taken towards the digital twin and Industry 4.0 in shipbuilding. Other jurors praised the enormous achievement of making the most complex business challenges manageable through IT use.

*Heinrich Vaske is Editorial Director of COMPUTERWOCHE, CIO and CSO as well as editor-in-chief of IDG’s European B2B brands. He takes care of the content orientation of the media brands – on the web and in the print titles.

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