Since ship hull blocks are constructed by assembling numerous intermediate parts, negligible dimensional variations in the parts can easily accumulate to cause serious misalignment in block erection stage. Considering the welding – the primary joining process in ship production which inherently causes distortions, the quality of block’s dimensional variations during the assembly would deteriorate even faster. Thinking that the intermediate products with low dimensional quality in the ship production are not scrapped but reworked, the productivity of each workstation greatly depends on the dimensional quality of these dimensionally critical intermediate products. Reworks such as recutting, mechanical and/or thermal correction against misalignment, excessive welding for wide gap and thermal straightening are commonly subsequently increases the total production cost.

One of the major dimensional accuracy control activities is the shrinkage margin design. The optimal length of excess edge is assigned to plates in order to compensate welding shrinkage. In the past, the welding shrinkage is predicted based mostly on the empirical formula or just designer's experience, so the accuracy of the assigned was relatively poor and could not effectively help reducing non-value-added rework activities. The simplified margin calculation procedure could not consider the welding sequence as well as process variations such as welding heat input.

This work aims to develop the optimal shrinkage margin calculation system for dimensional quality improvement. The proposed system calculates the optimal shrinkage margin using computer-aided engineering toolsets based on finite element analysis as well as design point searching procedure adopting the quality loss function and statistical values considering shrinkage variation values during welding.

The developed scheme improves the accuracy control procedure in the ship production process thus enhance competitiveness of shipbuilders in dimensional accuracy technology by minimizing the accuracy impact on productivity.

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