Lloyd's List - March 15 1999

HAVING evolved over a decade from principally a design consultancy to a business concentrating on the supply and support of specialist marine software, Antibes-based Design Systems & Technologies(DS&T) has been vindicated in its early belief that the future lay in a PC(personal computer) environment.

Even now, hardware costs alone for PC-based systems can be around one-sixth of the established alternatives, and developments in the software sector gravitating towards the use of a greater variety of hardware platforms have increased the maritime industries' accessibility to the latest technology.

The company takes a circumspect, solutions-based approach to the needs of its technical marine and shipbuilding client markets, maintaining a large number of different platforms in-office, so as to ensure direct compatibility with most of its customers' systems. It feeds into the development of the products from the range of marine software houses it represents.

Nick Danese of
DS&T believes that the pace of progress in the maritime field has been understated: "The remarkable technological advance of marine software is probably less widely known than that of the more commonplace computer hardware, used in all industries."

He perceived two distinct strategies associated with the supply of software to technical marine users. On the one hand, some companies have sought to develop programs covering a whole range of tasks, while others have joined in partnerships aimed at maintaining the highest level of expertise in their respective fields. Mr Danese contended that informal user surveys had indicated that the collaborative approach seemed to be yielding higher returns-to-investment ratios.

DS&T is itself party to a strategic alliance with a number of the companies it represents, specifically Albacore Research, Creative Systems, HydroComp, Proteus Engineering, Sable Maritime and Spar. The stated aims are to perfect the integration of state-of-the-art software for use on PCs, to improve user-friendliness so that the most sophisticated tools can be brought within the reach of everyone in the target markets, and to blend technical software into the commercial environment so as to raise the user's competitiveness.

The grouping provides a combined resource of more than 100 project engineers, about 40 of whom are focused on software development, and its customer base includes marine design offices, shipyards, ship operators, classification societies and navies.

From its base in the south of France,
DS&T's market reach is all the greater through its representation of a number of software specialists besides those party to the alliance, and including Fleet Technologies, ITS, Martec, Nauticad, Optimum Structural Design, South Bay Technologies, Velocity and Visual Systems Workshop.

Overall, it provides PC-based solutions to requirements in three main categories. These are design and analysis, ship production, and shipmanagement and maintenance.

DS&T has substantially developed its involvement in the ship production and consultancy arena over recent years. This is reflected in the current portfolio of products.

ShipCAM has been formulated by Albacore for fast, accurate output of all shell-related fabrication data, and lends itself to integration steel production modelling programs such as NauSHIP and CAD-Link, both of which are represented through

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