Innovation in Modern Shipbuilding

May 17, 2022

Jennifer Busler is Seaspan Shipyards’ Innovation Manager. For the past year she has been working on the HoloShip facility – an immersive visualization system that enables Seaspan and its Canadian marine industry partners to access a virtual reality environment to develop, integrate, test and demonstrate new digital twin capabilities and transform how ships are built, constructed, and maintained.

Where did the idea for the HoloShip facility at Seaspan come from?

Advanced digital technologies and systems are a rapidly growing part of modern shipbuilding and ship repair. Our teams are always looking for ways to integrate the use of technology and innovation to improve how we build and maintain ships.

How can HoloShip improve the design and build processes for Seaspan’s customers?

The HoloShip is already benefitting the vessels that Seaspan is constructing for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), including the Polar Icebreaker and Multi-Purpose Vessels, that are currently in the design phase. Immersive visualization can validate a vessel’s design and allow teams to assess their design for “human factors” such as eye level and arm reach and make adjustments before any steel is cut.

Are there opportunities for this to be used beyond the design and build phases of a vessel’s life cycle?

When it is time to hand over a vessel, there is an extensive familiarization process for the ship’s crew to understand the design and functionality. Immersive visualization can cover a wide range of scenarios in an accurate, simulated environment, enabling an efficient use of training resources. On the maintenance and repair side, customers can feed real-time information from a vessel into a model and teams can assess the systems and predict maintenance needs in an immersive way before the ship even gets to dock. All of this can save customers time and money.

Tell us about the culture of innovation at Seaspan Shipyards.

Seaspan is a really exciting place to work. We have a leadership team that encourages innovative ideas and creative solutions from every level of the organization, and we are constantly being challenged to find process improvements and better ways to do things. The HoloShip program is just one example of how we are developing one of the most modern shipyards in North America and building capacity and expertise for integrated digital solutions and advances visualization right here in North Vancouver.

What have you learned from your work on the HoloShip program?

It has been really rewarding to see how our teams, partners, and customers have reacted to the HoloShip platform and facility- I get to be a “fly on the wall” when they see the ships they have been working on go from their desktop and come to life on a 6 metre screen. I have learned that even the most seasoned engineers and shipbuilders will see or experience something they didn’t expect at that moment they get to walk through their designs in a virtual reality environment.   It’s also incredibly rewarding to engage with our younger, digitally savvy engineers who naturally seek ways to integrate digital technologies in shipbuilding now and in the future.