Progress of work

The FIBRE4YARDS project started on the 1st of January 2021. The virtual kick-off meeting took place on 26-27 January. It assembled all the consortium partners and the representative of the European Climate, Infrastructure, and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). The gathering was an opportunity to remind the objectives of the project, set up a detailed planning of activities for the first months and clarify expectations. It helped to reinforce the enthusiasm and understanding about the vision and goals of the work in FIBRE4YARDS. Most importantly, the discussions built a team spirit to set off to a very good start!

The technical activities were launched by the consortium partners in the first months of the project. The efforts concentrated mainly on the evaluation of current manufacturing processes as well as the evaluation and selection of FRP connection technologies. Starting from June 2021, many other activities will take off i.e. the set-up and optimisation of the manufacturing process, design for vessel production improvement and definition of tools for the Shipyard 4.0 concept.

In parallel, the partners started the market analysis focused on small- and medium-sized shipyards. An invitation to participate in a dedicated survey was issued to more than 400 European shipyards in order to assess the actual composite technologies and the level of automatisation in today's shipbuilding processes, as well as to evaluate the degree of interest on new technologies to be implemented in a new Shipyard 4.0. The survey can be found via the following link. In parallel, the survey team is conducting several interviews with relevant shipyards to gather more detailed information. For any query, the readers can also contact the FIBRE4YARDS survey team at fibre4yards@cimne.upc.edu. 

In terms of dissemination activities, the consortium has been very busy issuing first publications such as the project public abstract, the project overview presentation and a press release. FIBRE4YARDS was also promoted by the coordinator Xavier Martínez from CIMNE who gave an introduction presentation about the project in the session themed “Manufacturing and industrial process methods” at the annual meeting of the E-LASS group on the 28th of January. What is more, Alfonso Jurado Fuentes from TSI represented FIBRE4YARDS at the workshop “Innovations on Deconstruction of Recreational Fiberglass Boats in Spain” organised on the 14th of April by AGAN+ (Asociación Galega de Actividades Náuticas, www.nauticacademy.org) on behalf of the CAPITEN project (Interreg-Atlantic Area, www.capiten.eu). Alfonso Jurado Fuentes gave an overview of FIBRE4YARDS with the idea of engaging and raising awareness on the new trends of composites manufacturing methodologies and the Shipyard 4.0 concept. Very recently, Xavier Martinez (CIMNE) also introduced the project at the Advanced Factories Expo & Congress on the 8th of June. The three presentations are available in the open access repository of FIBRE4YARDS set up on Scipedia. A new dissemination activity is scheduled on the 1st of July in a joint effort with the FIBREGY project, in order to present both projects to the European community working with composites in the marine and naval sector. You can read more about this First Information Day in the "Get Together" section of our first newsletter.

Last but not least, the consortium partners have also initiated a collaboration with the members of the Advisory Board with a view of establishing non-disclosure agreements for future exchanges of information and results.

Note: please refer to the graph available here to understand the structure of the project and the interconnections between the work packages.

WP2 Assessment of advanced FRP production and joining technologies

The first achievement of WP2 was the mapping of the current FRP manufacturing and connection technologies. Then, the previous work was complemented with a detailed study of the different advanced manufacturing technologies available within the consortium, resulting in a Comparative Matrix of FRP Manufacturing Processes. Additionally, a dedicated laboratory test campaign was carried out to analyse samples manufactured by the project manufacturing technologies.

Likewise, a significant focus was placed on the connection technologies study. A thorough definition of the testing plan was devised, and the first phase study of the connection technologies has started. Single-lap-shear tests of the different joining techniques and materials are in progress.

The first results from coupon tests have been achieved, as pictured in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Example of Tensile Test Setup and Results for Adhesively Bonded Single Lap Joint.

The conclusions drawn will be used as input data to select the most suitable connection methods regarding the type of material and the mechanical connection requirements.

Furthermore, the demonstrators' preliminary geometries were identified, and the necessary project technologies improvement and adaptations are under evaluation. All technology providers performed an initial sensor selection and the analysis of the acquired data will be used to optimise the process.

Finally, the team concluded the state-of-the-art review and the benchmark of current structural prototypes using the Acoustic Black Hole (ABH) as a functionalisation methodology to add structural damping without adding mass. The definition and modelling of a composite plate are underway to produce 3 prototypes of 1m² and to assess damping added by the ABH in composite structures. In Figure 2 there is a photo of two plates, one with and another without ABH, manufactured in a milling machine as pre-prototype plate to help understand the eventual difficulty to be tackled on the final prototypes, and also to have a first impression on the potential damping gain achieved with such design of ABH.

Figure 2: ABH (Ø 250mm, power-law 3) machined in a composite plate 4.2mm thick and sized 382x445mm.

WP3 Design and engineering for vessel production improvement

The project partners progressed in several fields. The summary of current achievements is provided below:

CFD model (Tdyn CFD) involving CompassIS and 10XL:

  • Real 3D viscous, turbulent flow
  • Advance velocity: 40 Kn
  • Sea Condition 2 monochromatic wave in the direction of advance included
  • Sink and trim dynamics considered (ODDLS and ALEMESH formulations approach)

FEA model (Tdyn RamSeries):

  • Laminates created and exported from ComposeIT
  • Tool developed for importing materials and laminates from ComposeIT to Tdyn RamSeries
Static analysis performed including:
  • Original materials and laminates
  • Hydrostatic load corresponding to operation draft
  • Dynamic pressures corresponding to operating speed and sea condition (coming from the CFD for time step including a pressure peak)
  • Different tanks’ content and equipment loads
  • Structure self-weight

FEA NL Dynamic model (Tdyn RamSeries)

Non-Linear dynamic analysis performed including:

  • Hydrostatic load corresponding to operation draft
  • Dynamic pressures corresponding to operating speed and sea condition (coming from the Tdyn CFD for the whole run)
  • Structure self-weight
  • Weight loads corresponding to the operational condition considered (and their corresponding inertias)

CAD model + ComposeIT + Rules (MARS2000, NR600) involving TSI, Curve Works, Irurena, Naval Group, Bureau Veritas:

  • Catamaran 3D model created
  • Basic dimensions and scantling for the original design ready
  • Catamaran original structure designed
  • Preparing results to advance manufacturing partners: next iteration in the design

Discussed design challenges:

  • Curved panels and pultrusion sections to be used in the S/E and some parts of the hulls
  • S/E design proposed by TSI
  • Modifications proposed by Curve Works, to adapt to curved panels’ technology capacity and tolerances
  • Discussed actual design for demonstrator: S/E designs proposed by TSI, to be discussed with tech providers and especially with Naval Group

WP4 Smart manufacturing for Shipyard 4.0

WP4 made quite some progress during the last months of the project. The different technology providers (Irurena, INEGI, Naval Group, Curve Works, 10XL) and TSI have worked collaboratively in identifying the most interesting parameters from the production control and equipment maintenance perspectives. These parameters range from temperatures at the exit of the mould where the UV curing takes place, ultrasounds for the detection of leaks on the vacuum bag prior to the infusion process, power consumption of the different energy-intensive equipment or air presence at the resin inlet. Furthermore, sensors selection for gathering specific and valuable data from the manufacturing systems started, with the idea of purchasing them to be used in the sensor network of the monitoring system that TSI is developing.

In addition, CIMNE worked in the development of the web platform that will manage, store and analyse all the data coming from the different sensors installed on the different facilities. Using Docker as a development tool, PostgreSQL for data management or Grafana for visualization purposes, among other building blocks, the web platform is already up and running, ready for the upcoming integration with the hardware of the monitoring system.

Last but not least, CIMNE worked on the development of a Digital Twin Model for Curve Works’ manufacturing process. By using pressure sensors and real-time images of the resin infusion process, it is expected that it will be possible to identify in real time defects or voids generated during the vacuum infusion, enabling the automatic detection of faulty parts and consequently reducing manufacturing costs and optimizing the process.

Figure 3: Vacuum infusion process at Curve Works' facilities. Image credit to: Curve Works.

WP5 Environmental Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), recycling and waste management

WP5 run by Lodz University of Technology was launched on the 1st of January 2022. The main objectives of WP5 are to:

  • perform a life cycle assessment analysis of advanced and innovative FRP manufacturing and connection technologies such as hot stamping, out of die UV curved pultrusion, AFP, ATP, 3D printing, curved panels developed in the project
  • assess the environmental impact of two designed vessels (demonstrators): a patrol boat and a passenger catamaran

Finally, Lodz University of Technology will deliver recommendations for optimal solutions of the environmentally friendly FRP production technology for the shipbuilding industry. The LCA analysis will be performed according to ISO14040/14044 standards and based on environmental models such as ReCiPe 2016, IPCC 2021 in collaboration with technology providers of the FIBRE4YARDS consortium.

The main activities in WP5 in the second half of 2021 were: verification of materials availability in the Ecoinvent database for LCA analysis and preliminary calculations of the carbon footprint for selected materials. In December 2021, the team of Lodz University of Technology visited the technology provider INEGI in Porto to be acquainted with the hot stamping technology and fixing the scope of the life cycle inventory analysis.

WP6 Manufacturing and testing of demonstrators

In WP6, which has not started yet, the consortium will focus on the evaluation of manufacturing and assembly technologies, and on the overall strategy (Smart Factory) of the Shipyard 4.0, as well as on the manufacture of a full-scale demonstrator that will bring together the promising composite technologies studied in the upstream work packages by all the partners. This demonstrator will validate the feasibility of the solutions devised and the gains made, particularly in terms of automation and environmental performance. In more details:

3 partners will work on the manufacturing of small-scale demonstrators:

  • Curve Works will manufacture curved composite panels according to WP3 technical specifications,
  • 10XL will create a composite panel using the AFP technology,
  • Naval Group will realise several flat stiffened composite panels using vacuum infusion process

8 actors will work on the manufacturing of real-scale demonstrators:

  • An FRP space frame representative of one of the 2 designed vessels will be built. Curve Works, Irurena, 10XL INEGI and Naval Group will provide flat and curved panels. Composite panels will be assembled by Naval Group in France.
  • The second demonstrator will be a 3D printed structure managed by 10XLwith the participation of CIMNE and TSI.

5 partners will work to realise tests on composite panels and assemblies:

  • Naval Group, Curve Works and 10XL will provide the demonstrators
  • IRT Jules Verne will realise the static and fatigue tests
  • Bureau Veritas will describe and prescribe the fatigue tests (loading histogram)
  • TSI will execute vibrational tests
  • Bureau Veritas will produce the development of qualification guidelines for the design, engineering and fabrication process

WP7 Business plans. Cost-benefit analysis. IPR exploitation and market uptake

The recent work in WP7 focused on the exploration of the current market situation and business trends in the marine and shipping industry. An extensive and robust analysis of the current shipping market was prepared along with its dynamics in the context of the European shipbuilding contestability and the implementation of the Shipyard 4.0 technologies. From a maritime trade and shipbuilding perspective the findings revealed the followings:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic severely affected the global and European economy and consequently the maritime trade. In 2020, seaborne trade growth plunged to -3.05% compared to 1.7% in 2019. European shipyards were significantly hit by Covid-19 in terms of both production and demand. In many Member States, shipyards were closed for extended periods and construction delays were common. In Q4 of 2021 however, signs of recovery could be already seen and the number of new orders are expected to be increasing from Q1 of 2022.
  • The European shipbuilding sector still faces strong international competition from the three Asian countries: China, South Korea and Japan. Together, they represent more than 96% of the global shipbuilding output by Gross Tonnage. The Asian sector is mainly driven by the construction of bulkcarriers, tankers, and container ships, whereas shipbuilding in Europe is dominated by passenger and cruise ships and leisure boats. Also due to the absence of effective global trade rules and the intensive overseas state supports in domestic shipping companies, European shipbuilders have to cope in a distorted market. Growing trade protectionism and inward-looking policies are exacerbating European shipbuilding contestability.
  • FRP technologies are widely researched and tested for maritime utilisation but a rapid upscaling of FRP usage may get challenged by supply issues as the European production capacity is limited. FRP manufacturing processes are prone to inconsistency in quality. This can lead to failure and the premature deterioration of the material. The development and implementation of quality standards are required. This would also positively influence the large-scale adoption of this technology. However, ground-breaking new FRP technologies are continuously being developed advancing the wide application, the longevity and the sustainable use of composite materials.
  • By IMO’s and the EU’s recent GHG goals for 2050, shipping is forced to lower significantly its environmental impact which creates considerable challenges for the shipping industry. Operators must look to alternative low carbon or no carbon fuels and are facing a more demanding operational framework, with higher expectations and higher costs.