april 6, 2021. Modular Product Design & Smart Customization


With its 8.000 employees worldwide, this Dutch shipbuilder designs and builds yearly more than 180 tugs, yachts, high speed and marine vessels at over 30 shipyards. The ships vary from standard to custom made (“One-off”). The design and engineering take place in the Netherlands, where detailed engineering and production are primarily done abroad.

The problem

In recent years they experienced considerable growth. In particular, the product group High Speed expanded exponentially, resulting in high pressure on the design and specification activities. The market also demands lower product costs and shorter delivery times. In addition, the product group expected further growth in sales volume for some types. It became clear that this could not be realised with the existing processes.

The approach

The programme was implemented in five phases:

1. Awareness: why modular product design and the benefits of modular product design

Creating awareness of what Smart Customization could mean to this organisation.

2. Feasibility study:

Based on a concrete example vessel type in a pilot, the Smart Customisation feasible is proven.

3. Implementation of the introduction of modular product design:

Full development of the “smart” modular product design & product documentation package (Design & Proposal, Engineering, Suppliers).

Furthermore, corresponding “smart” processes and practices have been implemented. Also, Product Management support has been set up. For Sales, a Configurator App was developed, which can be seen as a product configurator (PCF); its output in terms of options/variants are associated with the documentation package. This will guide the sales department to a configured price quote (CPQ).

4. Relocate order engineering toward the production sites:

Get the local engineers on the yard trained to configure to order vessels per client and teach them in creating the small engineering to order adjustment within the modular product structure. All these adjustments are based on strict interface management of the modules configured.

5. Material flow: from push to pull strategy

By configuring the Bill of material (BOM), the production schedule is set up in the ERP system. The job preparation department can connect the materials to the shop floor control module of the ERP system. By this connection, the material supply to the yard can be switched from push to pull. Next to this, complete control in material cost, labour and progress is achieved!

The success

The shipyard has decided to roll out the Smart Customisation methodology for all types of ships in the portfolio build in Singapore, Vietnam & China.

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