Damen Shipyards Group and VSTEP Simulation, a leading provider of training simulation technology, have joined forces to establish a laboratory to explore innovative new simulation solutions. The aim of the partnership is to develop software that will extend the capabilities of VSTEP’s existing NAUTIS Maritime Simulation platform into engineering applications and so open up new research and development possibilities for Damen’s numerous R&D programmes.
The initial focus will be on ship design and engineering, where software will be developed that will allow naval architects and engineers to first model potential changes in a design and then view in virtual reality the impacts that these would have on other aspects of the vessel’s performance.
“Business units across the group require ever more simulations to mitigate the risks inherent in designing and commissioning,” says Marcel Cleijsen, team leader at Damen R&D. “Costs per simulated vessel are currently high due to dependency on suppliers, high tariffs and limited re-usability as ownership remains with suppliers. This project is an investment that will drastically lower the cost per simulation by standardising the interface between components and making the completed simulations re-usable for future purposes.” Damen is well-known for its commitment to continually improving its designs based on industry feedback and the application of new technology, and this capability will be a valuable tool in supporting that process.
“With our focus on driving innovation within the industry, we can ensure that our combined solutions will complement each other,” added Steve Claes, technical director at VSTEP Simulation. “The industry demands better quality each year, which is something our maritime simulators can help accommodate. I believe this new project marks the beginning of a closer cooperation that will lead to a wealth of new data findings. These findings will contribute to the digitisation of the industry and pave the road to a new norm, with our simulator solutions in the lead.”
Damen and VSTEP Simulation already work together via Damen’s associate company 360-Control. There, NAUTIS Maritime Simulators are used to train crew in manoeuvring tugs and OSVs in a range of scenarios in a highly lifelike but zero risk environment.
The new laboratory will also explore the potential to create ‘Digital Twins’. That is, virtual representations of existing vessel types that can then be manipulated to establish how they might perform in roles or conditions that they have yet to experience. That information will then be applied to optimising the designs to allow them to operate effectively in new markets.
“Investing in a full bridge simulator is a step towards the Digital Twin goal,” adds Marcel, “and not only enhances Damen’s capability as a digital system integrator, but also enables us to present our findings to our internal and external clients and suppliers in an intuitive 3D graphical format.”
The laboratory will be based at Damen’s headquarters in Gorinchem and operational from February 2020.