Process optimization in
Dutch shipbuilding can
make a significant difference

source: NMT Magazine

Every ship that can be built in the Netherlands will actually be built in the Netherlands.' That is Bas Ort's fervent wish, expressed during NMT's New Year's reception. Now that the government is earmarking millions for the stimulation of maritime innovation and the underlying Master Plan 2030, an important step has been taken. But is it also enough to better manage complex projects and reduce costs and build faster?

‘Process optimization within shipbuilding leads to savings and to strengthening our competitive position towards other countries,’ says Roel de Graaf, managing director at NMT. ‘Optimizing processes is a topic that every shipyard should be working on. Daily practice shows that this is still not happening enough.'

Shipbuilding is complex and conservative. Building ships is an extremely precise task. It is important that all processes are coordinated. In the past, this was mainly done by experience. ‘Nowadays I notice that managing on data is becoming increasingly important. And I think that is a positive development', says Catina Geselschap, director of Dredging Standard Modular Vessels at Royal IHC in South Holland.   

Roel de Graaf, managing director NMT
Roel de Graaf, managing director NMT


Strengthening the Dutch competitive position   

 The importance is also seen in the north of the Netherlands. “There are plenty of opportunities for innovation. By working together in the field of efficiency, smarter design and robotization, we want to strengthen the competitive position of the maritime sector in Groningen and Friesland," says Guus van der Bles, development director of design agency Conoship International BV.   

 A large number of shipyards are united in the Groninger Maritime Board. Their common dot on the horizon? Building the ships of the future. In particular, high-quality short sea shipping (short sea shipping) and cargo ships. ‘Cost savings in hull construction means growth in the number of ships to be built,’ explains Guus van der Bles. "This also offers opportunities for installers and suppliers and growth of employment in the region."   

‘Despite the fact that ships differ from each other, many processes are similar. By linking the 3D designs we make to smart software, companies can better manage the construction process and processes become more manageable. While shipyards currently spend a lot of time “walking-searching-waiting”, we will soon be able to plan much better which parts should be ready at what time and where,' he says.   

‘Process optimization offers insight, which allows us to focus more on predictable results. We don't steer by feeling, but by facts," says Catina Geselschap. With more than 300 years of experience, Royal IHC is the market leader in the design, construction and maintenance of innovative dredgers and dredging equipment. ‘My division designs and builds various standardized and modular dredgers, such as the Beaver, a cutter suction dredger. We do this with an eye for quality, lowest Total Cost of Ownership and short delivery times. Working efficiently is important here.”   

Catina Geselschap from Royal IHC
Catina Geselschap from Royal IHC
A Royal IHC Beaver Dredger Vessel A Royal IHC Beaver Dredger Vessel
A Royal IHC Beaver Dredger Vessel

Royal IHC uses Floor2Plan from Floorganise.   

 “This tool gives us insight. Insight into peaks, troughs and lead times. We also learn from past projects and are able to make better predictions. We are in control and work more efficiently," she says. “Ultimately, it benefits quality, throughput speed, price and job satisfaction.”   

Embraced in the workplace   

‘Floor2Plan is embraced by the people in the workplace,’ says Catina Geselschap. “They enjoy working with it and see its usefulness. That's crucial. And with the planned upgrade, the insights will only get more.”   

Ronald de Vries of Floorganise: “Our company is 100 percent focused on digital innovation of shipbuilding processes. Not only do software engineers work with us, but also experienced shipbuilders. It all originated and started around the workplace at Royal IHC in 2012. We now work for a range of shipyards in Europe and North America''.   

‘Many shipyards are afraid of cold feet. And this is partly because the wrong tools have been used in the past (ed. ERP systems) to want to control the right things," says Ronald de Vries. 'It is a pity that so much Dutch knowledge and innovation remains unused in our own country, while the cost price and project risks really do give cause for concern here.

'Roel de Graaf: 'Process optimization can make the difference, but it does require a culture change within organisations.' Middle management of shipyards in particular sees the added value of tools to optimize processes, he notes. “Besides the fact that it can help reduce man-hours, they have noticed that you can use craftsmanship more effectively by planning in more detail. This also applies to custom built environments. Even with non-standard ships it is possible to standardize (part of the) processes.'   

Working together under the master plan

‘I hope that the joint nature of the Maritime Master Plan 2030 will lead to the sharing of knowledge and examples within the sector. So that the entire Dutch shipbuilding cluster in the Netherlands emerges stronger from the crisis', concludes Ronald de Vries.   

Ronald de Vries from Floorganise
Ronald de Vries from Floorganise