Better, bigger, faster, stronger. The largest cruise ship ever built is currently sailing our seas, passengers are ably assisted onboard by AI and robot assistants and battery-powered vessels stocked with cutting-edge tech transport passengers to the Antarctic. Cruise has well and truly sailed into the future. It should be no surprise that the passenger-facing tech is matched by the incredible leaps and bounds being taken behind the scenes.

Leading cruise and luxury vessel designer, and Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe exhibitor, YSA Design is close to completing what it believes is the first ever ship construction project to bring together everything from initial sketches to the sign-off tasks for utilities completion under one Building Information Modelling (BIM) process. Here’s why this innovation from the Oslo-based design studio is so exciting:

What is BIM?

Building Information Modelling is a process used in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry to build more responsive, tactile 3D models. Designers will create digital models (usually of buildings) which include data associated with the physical and functional characteristics of the constituent parts. This allows the architects, engineers and contractors to collaborate on one coordinated model – leading to improved designs, a lower risk factor and reduced costs.

BIM has become a significant part of land-based architecture in Norway (as well as being considered an important part of construction by the UK Government), with its use now mandatory for those bidding for government projects, but YSA Design believe they are the first to turn onshore experience into pioneering cruise ship build projects with the process.

The project

The project, for an undisclosed cruise owner, saw the Oslo-based designer using the 3D tool across the conception and execution of a complete ship newbuilding. Georg Piantino, Senior Architect, YSA Design says that the owner’s readiness to provide detailed information at an early stage enabled BIM to deliver accuracy and efficiency in calculation, but also uniform 3D modelling for all stakeholders through every phase of the project.

“The same 3D model is used by designers, shipbuilders, outfitters, plumbers and electricians,” he says. “Now, a virtual tour can take in everything from ‘big picture’ items such as cruise ship atriums to the fine detail of piping arrangements in awkward spaces. Right from the outset, even before steel-cutting or materials selection, collisions can be identified and colour-coded by severity so that the resolution process can begin.”

BIM is a significant upgrade compared to superimposing 2D drawings from utility contractors onto the main 3D model – a process that needs designers to zoom in to identify potential issues manually. Piantino says BIM using an Autodesk-based Shipbuilding & Offshore Software Solution allows all participants to keep the entirety of the ship in mind at every project stage. In addition to improved accuracy, 3D integration at the sketching stage enables simulated walk-throughs: decisions made on outfitting, materials and furnishing at an early stage ‘stick’ throughout the project, he says.

Cost-and-time saving design

“It’s too early to put figures on it, but time and cost are saved from the outset and cost control is enhanced throughout. YSA Design has good knowledge of BIM but working through a shipbuilding project frame by frame in 3D, on interiors and exteriors, is a cruise industry first. In the process, we have refined our skillset and can offer BIM as a competitive edge for ship design or as a distinct third-party service.” says Piantino.

The weigh-up between the size of the ship order book and the capacity of the shipyards is staggering. With over 100 vessels on order for 2019/20, and more than 120 through to 2027, ship design and build needs to be as streamlined as possible. Technologies such as BIM aid in this streamlining, and act as the wind tunnel for the process – ensuring that all faults are identified and ironed out before the build begins in the yard. As Piantino explains above, “collisions can be identified and colour-coded by severity so that the resolution process can begin”.

Researchers from the University of Michigan proposed automated fault detection using BIM as far back as 2013 – using algorithms to automate the detection and diagnostic process for faults in existing buildings. Translating this to cruise ship refurbishments could severely cut down on the time a ship needs to remain in drydock – meaning a higher turnover for shipyards, as well as safer and better-maintained ships.

A designer at YSA Design uses virtual reality
A designer at YSA Design uses virtual reality

Virtual reality for the future

YSA Design has also led the way in using Virtual Reality as a ship design tool to envisage interior and exterior spaces in the digestible formats that help owners, builders and contractors better understand spaces in terms of volume, atmosphere, texture, lighting, etc. “In combination with Revit 3D software, VR makes it possible to see and ‘feel’ the space immediately, and to experience the impact that changes of atmosphere or materials can have before construction has begun,” Piantino comments. This can help designers realize their vision across the ship, using an immersive environment to ensure the atmosphere created is exactly that required.

Virtual reality tech can also be used post-build. With cruise lines such as MSC creating online virtual tours, it was only a matter of time before these were upgraded to immersive virtual reality. At Stand 642 at Cruise Ship Interiors Europe, De Jorio Design will be giving virtual 3D tours of their onboard designs.

 Want to learn more about YSA’s use of BIM? Register for free today and visit YSA Design on Stand 410 at CSIE, Fira Barcelona, 4-5 December.