Measurement is a term which talks about precision, calculations and predictions for future initiatives; important aspects of ship-building and many other maritime operations ranging from vessel surveys of all types to designs of new builds altogether. Measurement, like vessel builds undergo regular updates and investigation which leads to new practices and technological innovations done to change the landscape of gathering relevant data about the measured entity.
The 21st century saw many innovations within the measuring field with new technological advancements/ new means to obtain data and new data to obtain altogether. Examples of such innovations include the different implementations of CAD technologies and optical measurement which add to the precision and cost-efficiency factor in shipbuilding.
The shipbuilding and naval architecture itself is a dynamic environment of diverse range of measurement units and their applications. Measurement in naval architecture directly relates to the overall quality of the final build of a vessel as it detects inconsistencies in the initial design implemented within the foundations of building a vessel; pinpointing design flaws beforehand along with offering alternate decisions to improve the vessel build.
Vessel builds start from blueprints and a flat surface where the construction takes place; however modern vessels favour pre-fabricated components built separately, on occasion in distant/separate shipyards; following a process of block construction where all the pre-fabricated parts are put together to form a ship. Pre-fabricated parts are made from sheet metal and pipework; all welded together when necessary; aim of this process is to produce semi-worked elements which are put together to form a vessel. Another aspect of modern vessel builds is the standardisation of designs which applies to multiple ship contracts; ensuring repetitive operation. This repetition decreases demand for training which contributes to economic efficiency which also facilitates development of techniques and equipment.
The aforementioned repetition of vessel builds also enhances compatibility and ease of adaptation as crew transfers are fairly common along with other products of economic conditions which will potentially cause radically different vessel builds to be harder to operate and modify as well as give new crewmembers appropriate training.
How are vessel parts held together in the 21st century? Welding remains to be the most popular and effective method and thus used in all vessel builds. Ships are made from welded steel which varies in terms of fracture toughness where results can be brittle fracture where damage is done but not easily detectable as deformation does not occur on the material itself; still occurs today. Welding also, according to popular lore is a common source of accidents in ships and shipbuilding processes.
Accidents are more abundant in the modern world as most surveyors and vessel owners try to control and inspect every step of production at every stage of the vessel being built; this is a mistake because where some deficiencies and design flaws may be detected but even more get missed as during the stages of checking errors; focus shifts across dimensions and misses other errors that may always appear at least expected times and places. Formal surveys and check-ups are a necessity in modern maritime thus considered a mark of quality due to the fact that it is visible to the owner or buyer; however processes are not visible and thus not considered.
Problems of modern maritime also lie within acceptance of only what is visible and written; limiting scope only to those dimensions and ignoring others. Shipbuilding is a process of connection of machines and equipment which are pre-installed in modern shipyards. Pre-installation can lead to more design flaws if every step is inspected as every component varies and creates more dimensions to shift focus and ignore some problems; focus may shift from machine operation to its placement altogether.
In order to avoid some errors and produce a quality vessel build it is essential to use high-caliber measuring equipment such as the TRITOP; an environmentally-independent apparatus which produces 3D images while not touching the object and having minimum hardware requirements. Such software aids in making individual details and recording of diameters, lengths and angles.
It is beneficial to understand that vessels get build in a process that generates information as the process carries on and repeats. The “Design Spiral” is composed of calculations, information which keeps getting added, revised and on-occasion changed. The whole process also includes powering and testing the vessel in sea trials. Sea trials, essentially are done for testing of propulsion, operability, safety measures along with navigation and control mechanisms.