Just managing the logistics at the shipyard requires a lot of planning, and shipbuilding itself involves constant management of material flows and changing situations.
“You could say the shipyard is almost like a small city. Building a ship involves thousands of people and most of the construction services are subcontracted. The shipbuilding industry is highly interconnected, meaning that having a seamless flow of information is crucial,” explains Axel Forsman, Head of IT, Shipbuilding Solutions at Meyer Turku Oy.
The shipbuilding business is also highly sanctioned. Delays are fined, and overtime hours are costly. Any problems with the flow of information, either internally or with partners, may quickly have a damaging effect on cost-effectiveness.
Work management is absolutely key in this carefully scheduled patchwork of responsibilities. Making the various stages of shipbuilding cost-effective and identifying potential bottle necks in time require efficient processes and transparency at every step of the way.
A new work management solution ensured hassle-free communications
It hardly comes as a surprise that such complex processes cannot really be managed with emails and Excel sheets, which potentially fail to reach everyone concerned and are impossible to keep adequately up to date. At Meyer, people who needed to stay informed about ongoing processes and changes didn’t always get the necessary information.
“Excel-based checklists are typically made up of hundreds or even thousands of rows. As you can imagine, sending these files back and forth between different people and shipping companies has been a slow and agonising process,” Forsman says.
Luckily, Meyer now has a solution that has put a stop to the messaging hassle.
With digitalised processes, managing the flow of information and changes has become a lot easier. The work management solution developed by Ambientia which allows for the centralisation of all data as well as granular access control has played a business-critical role in this evolution. The system also makes it possible to manage notices and audits and approve documents and drawings from the same place.
The system has also provided a solution to the efficient management of Meyer’s subcontracting and collaboration network. The ability to quickly find information on all subcontractors and partners and to promptly inform them about any pressing matters is crucial. It helps to ensure that the design of the various stages of the shipbuilding process is well-informed and prevents unnecessary waiting times – or, in the worst-case scenario, having to dismantle and redo something due to lapses in communication.
“Shipbuilding relies on a good flow of information and the timely availability of materials. Digital solutions have enhanced these processes to a significant degree.”
Axel Forsman, Head of IT, Shipbuilding Solutions, Meyer Turku Oy
Although perhaps not immediately obvious, information security plays a particularly important role in shipbuilding. A centralised system gives access to information to those who need it, and storing all contacts in the same place makes it possible to track down project personnel even after several years.
“Now we are always up to date on the type of information different people have had access to at different stages of various projects,” Forsman explains.
Keeping costs under control with real-time data
An uninterrupted flow of information and integrated platforms clearly minimise the hassle associated with coordination. Human errors and waste have also been reduced.
“Before, documenting things only on paper meant that it was possible to simply forget that some steel plates had been stored outside where they would then get covered by snow. Now, the automatic system knows the precise location of each and every plate, and nothing goes to waste,” Meyer Turku Oy’s Delivery Manager, Head of Team Helka Myrskyranta explains.
To top it all, going digital has also improved safety. Thanks to positioning technology, logistics at the shipyard run like clockwork, and the number of accidents has decreased significantly in relation to Meyer’s increased production volume.
From a business perspective, the most significant changes have been seen in business predictability and cashflow management. Real-time data helps to gain a business-critical view on operations, which has led to improved control over the costs of the final stages of the shipbuilding process.
The risk management model which was part of the system overhaul and which allows for an easier assessment of costs at different stages has been a big help. In practical terms, the model helps reduce the probabilities of risks.
Third time lucky – also in systems development
“At Ambientia, we’re extremely happy about having been able to really demonstrate what we can do. It has broadened the scope of our co-operation with Meyer and also made it more international,” says Harri Nieminen, Development Consultant at Ambientia.
In hindsight, everything sounds so easy: Meyer sought to digitalise its operations, so that’s exactly what it did. Done and dusted. In practice, however, the process was not as easy as it seems at first glance.
The Atlassian-based system environment (Onboard Jira and Confluence) used at Meyer Group and originally built in Germany had accumulated a lot of technical debt over the years. Two Atlassian partners had been consulted about the stabilisation and development of the systems, but neither of them had been able to solve the underlying issues.
Getting the collaboration environments working and minimising idle time at the shipyard was critical for business, so the situation required urgent action. Meyer needed a partner that could sort out the technical aspects of the environments, take over their maintenance in accordance with the agreed SLA levels and provide development support in the future.
Meyer turned to Ambientia, which had already previously helped the company with similar projects and technologies.
This time round, third time really was lucky, as Ambientia managed to take comprehensive control over the business-critical system. Today, Ambientia is responsible for the development and maintenance of the work management, project management, and collaboration environments of the entire Meyer Group.
Myrskyranta gives praise to the co-operation between Meyer and Ambientia.
“As a partner, Ambientia offers variety. They have competence to deal not only with large-scale technical questions but also minute details. People at Ambientia also understand business and really investigate their client’s industry,” Myrskyranta says.
Since the shipyard industry still offers plenty of opportunities for automation and development, Myrskyranta is convinced the cooperation will continue long into the future. Now that the flow of information and processes of work management have been made transparent and efficient, it’s time to concentrate on innovations that will propel the shipbuilding industry forward. The coronavirus pandemic, in particular, has brought up issues that can only be solved through data and digitalisation.
“Cruise ships all over the world have been at a standstill for a year and a half due to COVID-19. This has given us the perfect opportunity to challenge some of the old conventions of the shipbuilding industry. We believe data can be used to enhance the operations of the entire sector and to develop the co-operation network of experts,” Myrskyranta summarises.
“Our co-operation with Ambientia has been easy, flexible and close. Ambientia has embraced the challenges of the shipbuilding industry and provided many clear and practical solutions to them.”
Helka Myrskyranta, Delivery Manager, Head of Team, Meyer Turku Oy
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