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Virtual Simulation of Ship Production Processes

In the context of Agile Manufacturing Systems, the design and production of portions of a PD 337 navy cargo ship was studied using immersive virtual reality. Ships of this size are being built by combining prefabricated sections (building blocks) into the final assembly.


The design of a double bottom section, a building block located at the bottom of the ship, was provided as an AutoCad model and converted into a virtual prototype. An immersive walk through the full scale representation of this complex steel structure immediately revealed severe design flaws that are typically found in initial CAD/CAM models. For example, several compartments are not accessible for welding operations, and many of the longitudinal stiffeners are accidentally attached to the wrong side.

Virtual prototypes of buildings blocks allow for an early detection of design errors and avoid the significant costs that occur if these errors are realized later during the manufacturing process. In addition, possible assembly sequences, accessibility and reachability for welding operations, and the use and movement of equipment inside the section can be studied.

Double bottom section overview (top plate removed):

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Selected views from the outside and the inside:

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Climb through the VRML 2.0 model (167K) and inspect the double bottom for design flaws.


Studying the double bottom in the CAVE:

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Photograph by Bob Kalmbach


In a second stage of this project, the assembly sequence of the double bottom section was simulated based on the standard practice procedures of a given shipyard. An animated virtual prototype of the assembly process was created that allows for the study of clearances and possible collisions during the process, of required welding operations at the various stages, of necessary crane operations, and other productions aspects.

Stages of the assembly sequence:

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View the GIF animation (641K) of the assembly sequence.

Load the animated VRML 2.0 model (53K) and inspect the process from any angle.

Last Update: December 20, 2002, kpb
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