Ship & Boat International - October 1998 Issue


Design Systems & Technologies and Intersection Design are two separate but complementary companies dedicated to providing design software system solutions to the naval architecture and marine engineering business as well as offering a ship engineering production service to naval architects and builders. The business has evolved over ten years from mainly a design practice to one concentrating on the supply and support of specialist software. Situated in the South of France’s Antibes/Sofia Antipolis district (where companies such as Digital, Amadeus and Air France set up in the 1980s to attract and retain good staff) the two companies share open-plan offices overlooking the Mediterranean.

Founded by 40-year-old Italian Nick Danese in 1988, Intersection Design was mainly involved in large yacht design in the early years (Danese had previously worked on sail and power projects with Bruce Farr and Martin Francis). Soon, through its extensive use and knowledge of software, it found itself offering information and software to other practices. FastShip, at that time produced by Design Systems & Services in the USA, was the main product and resulted in the trading name of Design Systems Europe to maintain worldwide brand recognition and this name was retained as GHS, Maestro and other programs were added to their portfolio.

By 1994 software sales and consultancy represented the majority of the company’s turnover and at this time Danese’s vision was that "the future of marine software was in the PC environment. In those days everything was self-contained workstation systems. Hardware costs alone for PC systems are about a sixth of say a UNIX system". So, in 1995, in order to provide the most comprehensive service possible to the end user, a close cooperative relationship was formed with Albacore of Canada and NautiCAD of Italy. These companies still do most of the technical software development, all of which is then thoroughly tested by Design Systems on real commercial projects and debugged before being introduced into the marketplace.

By 1996 there were two PC ship production systems: Albacore’s ‘Ship Constructor’ based around AutoCAD and NautiCAD’s ‘NauSHIP’ running inside Microstation. The drive behind these PC-based products was to make them interface with existing naval architecture products and benefit from the fact that 75% of people working in this field would have used AutoCAD or Microstation, saving on training costs. Danese states "We do not have to worry about common CAD features such as parametric drafting tools and rendering but we can concentrate on ship specific requirements. The big self-contained, stand-alone systems do have to worry about all aspects of CAD making their development relatively cumbersome".

Parallel to these developments over the past two years Danese took the decision in 1996 to move into the ship production service market. This was to ensure that "we are not ‘box shifters’ and to secure a long-term relationship and understanding of our clients we must have hands-on practical experience of our own". Two ship projects, 70m and 95m ferries, for Rodriquez Engineering of Genoa, allowed the software systems to be ‘road-tested’ in the worst-case scenario - with inexperienced users recruited straight out of college - while also generating a core software support team who would have been through the learning curve from scratch.

During these projects every single piece of steel for the ships was modelled in three dimensions and it could be determined on screen whether or not an individual item could be fabricated. For example, if the plastic deformation was too great for a piece of plating then it could be modified before being cut. The advantages of preparing everything with the CAD system are to ensure that everything will fit together and optimise various criteria. The balance of minimising steel wastage, through efficient nesting, against the extra labour involved with fabricating more components (necessary to obtain efficient nesting) and the knock-on effects of this extra time on the whole project can be accurately weighed up. Avoiding mistakes during construction is probably the strongest reason to invest in thorough ship production modelling (typically costing one per cent of construction costs) before commencing build. As Danese points out, "One error in the building process might well cost more than the total ship production service fees".

With these 70m and 95m ships successfully behind them, the decision was taken to keep one or two service jobs on the go at all times to allow continuous testing of software developments and keeping ahead of requirements. A passenger ship refit was recently completed and current projects include a 40m tuna seiner and a 114m, 44-knot car ferry for Cantieri Navali Rodriquez (see S&B July/Aug 1998). To improve management and distinguish between activities,
Design Systems & Technologies was formed early in 1998, dedicated to the software marketing and development consulting, while Intersection Design provides both the ongoing support and training to software users and a full ship production service to naval architects and builders.


Design Systems & Technologies’ PC-based software can be categorised in three groups: Design and Analysis, Ship Production and Ship Operation. Compatibility between systems and the ability to add programs to a practice as projects demand them is one of the key attractions.

Design and Analysis:

FastShip, GHS, NavCad™, ShipMO, Maestro and Esti-MATE are used for preliminary design and analysis.

FastShip (Proteus Engineering Inc) is a hullform design and surface modelling program that can also be used for superstructures and appendages. It has intact hydrostatic and stability calculations and interfaces with many stability, structures and hydrodynamics programs. First released in 1983, FastShip is now onto version 5 and includes parametric and Wizard modules to help in automatically producing new hulls from a set of parameters, such as ship type, overall dimensions, displacement, LCB location, form coefficients etc. Hulls can also be designed from scratch, derived from library hulls or by importing offsets. Easily learnt, FastShip includes industry-standard interfaces IDF, IGES and DXF.

GHS/Win (Creative Systems Inc) is a General Hydrostatics and Stability package. The most powerful stability calculator in the microcomputer world, GHS goes beyond static stability calculations and checks for positive stability in all conditions. It supports variable density cargo, staggered heel/flotation plane conditions as well as compartment damage combinations.

NavCad™ (HydroComp Inc) is a parametric resistance and propulsion prediction system and models can include hull, appendages, propeller and engine (resistance, power, thrust and torque) as well as ‘non-ship’ effects such as waves, wind, shallow water blockage and towed/pushed bodies. NavCad™ also has facilities for correlated alignment calculations (to towing tank data, other experimental sources, proprietary databases etc).

ShipMo PC/Win (Sable Maritime Ltd) is a ship motions prediction package, applying an evolved version of strip theory to calculate ship motions response amplitude operators in six degrees of freedom. Validated for Froude numbers as high as 0.42 on medium speed craft, ShipMo also supports wave spectra such as Breight-Schneider, Jonswap and user defined waves.

Maestro (Optimum Structural Design Inc) is a finite element analysis based structural optimization package which, thanks to its fundamental coarse mesh approac, is uniquely suitable for the study of reinforced shells such as ship and submarine hulls and superstructures, offshore rigs, semi-submersibles etc. Selected areas can be evaluated using a fine mesh.

Esti-MATE (SPAR Technologies) is used by small and large organizations to predict and manage the cost of shipbuilding. It uses parametric and database technology to integrate constantly changing information as well as an item-by-item approach. Interfaced to ship production programs such as ShipCAM and CAD-Link it is fully customizable and suitable for newbuilding or refit/repair jobs.

Ship Production:

Of most interest to CAD users who are already familiar with AutoCAD or Microstation are the PC-based ship production software packages, especially ShipCAM 97, NauSHIP and CAD-Link 98. Compatible with Microsoft Office for producing documentation, or importing into databases and spreadsheets for calculations, the ship production programs offered by
DS&T allow for every piece of the steelwork (for example) to be given attributes. These may vary from post-processing codes for shipyard teams to which grade of steel the part is to be cut from. Classification Society approval drawings are generated from the 3D model, making any necessary modifications running throughout the design relatively painless. Danese has scrutinised the time sheets and figures for projects they have worked on and is confident that a third of the design and production time is saved in the concurrent process, compared to the traditional stage-by-stage method of working.

ShipCAM 97 (Albacore Ltd) focuses on the fast and accurate production of shell-related fabrication data. Unmatched in plate development (surface-based as opposed to traditional frame-based methods), inverse frame bending calculations (transverse and longitudinal), automatic cut-out placement capabilities, ShipCAM also offers all traditional shipbuilding functions such as shell expansion, template forming, pin-jigs, weights and CG calculations. Double curvature plate deformation is quantified exactly and plate formability can be checked on screen, interactively, thus allowing plate size optimisation. ShipCAM supports most industry data exchange formats and database links integrate it with steel production modelling programs such as NauSHIP and CAD-Link:

NauSHIP (NautiCAD srl) exploits the Microstation graphical engine and was the first ship production modelling product to run on microcomputers. Designed to be used through the complete structural modelling process, from preparation of class drawings to NC cutting, using NauSHIP in the early stages of concept design saves considerable time and effort at later stages. The graphical interface is easy for classically trained draughtsmen and naval architects to learn. Fully three dimensional and with logical attributes used for displaying, nesting and other database type operations it was demonstrated to S&B to be very efficient in composing bill of materials and assembly instruction type data. Profile end treatments, assembly and production drawings, welding/processing specs and Classification Society approval drawings are easily generated. Supporting most industry standard interfaces (DXF, IGES, IDF etc), it is designed for use in both the stand-alone and networked environment. Microstation’s powerful rendering capabilities make for impressive three dimensional client presentation images when the occasion demands it.

CAD-Link 98 (Albacore Ltd) is an AutoCAD-based steel production modelling PC program expressly developed for the small to medium shipyard. It has database links, CAD assisted nesting, structural modelling, basic piping and NC cutting interfaces and in its 3D solid element structural element approach is an industry leader. CAD-Link provides the tools to make 3D modelling as easy as 2D drafting and, having been thoroughly tested with ShipCAM users worldwide, it is established as an effective tool for all stages of ship production engineering.

Shaft-Kit (Sable Maritime Ltd) brings finite element vibration analysis of propeller shafts to the desktop. It supports modelling of shaft elements, lumped masses, springs, dampened and rigid supports, bearings etc and both torsional and normal vibrations are computed. Designed for low-end computers it lends itself to on-board inspection and analysis work.

Perception (SPAR Associates Inc) is the leading tool for planning, scheduling and controlling the many elements involved in the production process of ship manufacture. Based on client-server tecnology it is a completely modular package, easily customizable to specific shipyard requirements. The system comprises Esti-MATE, mentioned earlier, Work-Pac, for tracking cost and work performance, Mat-Pac, to manage stock, purchasing and delivery and Pert-Pac which dynamically maintains resource allocation and scheduling, including automatic re-assignments at tagged event occurences.

PropCad (HydroComp and
Design Systems & Technologies sarl) allows the user to define a propeller in detail and to produce both a fully dimensioned construction drawing and a complete offset table suitable for the construction of a foundry plug. It includes several parametric propeller libraries or can define arbitrary shapes or a combination of the two. Class strength rule calculations are supported.

Ship Operation:

Onboard operations/monitoring programs offered by
DS&T include Smart Engine and GHS LM while PropExpert aids with the choice of a proprietary propeller:

PropExpert (HydroComp Inc) is a Windows 95 software tool for the selection and analysis of propeller systems for workboats and yachts. Developed for the engine/propeller manufacturer and dealer market it allows te user to select and match engines and propellers for a given hull type and operating profile.

Smart Engine (HydroComp and
Design Systems & Technologies sarl) is a performance, display voyage analysis and propulsion management software tool designed for onboard or onshore use. It addresses both strategic and tactical issues from real-time course and throttle settings to layup scheduling and a complete operating database is generated for comparative analysis.

GHS LM (Creative Systems Inc). General Load Monitor is an onboard stability monitoring system for use by the vessel operators and is a special configuration of the aforementioned GHS. Using true ship geometry for real-time calculations, including wind heeling, cargo shifting, damage and grounding situations GHS LM can assess longitudinal strength in any condition Installed on dozens of ships and easily translated into any language it is perfectly suited for preloading and unloading calculations and real-time operations management.


Having spent some hours interviewing a yacht design and naval architectural practice in the UK before visiting
Design Systems & Technologies, it became evident that both were thinking along the same lines. Jerry Turner of Lymington-based Dubois Naval Architects (mainly on AutoCAD) explained how - now that the technology is available to them - they believe that it will be preferable to take on the extra workload and properly model up all elements in three dimensions. Presently most small craft designers pass on typical two dimensional drawings of sections showing frame sizes and stringer spacings, together with a lines plan, to the ship production service companies who, in turn, prepare precise details for the metal cutting and shopfloor welders to refer to.

By bringing the ship production preparation in-house - and effectively operating a concurrent engineering method - the savings in communications time are put at 70% by Nick Danese. Eliminating the possibility of misinterpretation of details is virtually assured and those late stage "let’s add a couple of metres length" requests from the client are incorporated without major redrawing repercussions. With the increasing numbers of large yachts being ordered - and the majority of yacht designers either using AutoCAD or Microstation - it would appear that, complementing the commercial small ships market, the yachting industry could be the next that DS&T tap into to supply software.

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