Case Study: WSAM ProDu

Wärtsilä SAM Electronics GmbH (WSAM) from Hamburg specializes in designing, assembling, cabling and commissioning complex electrical systems on ships. These include, for example, mega yachts, research and special ships or ships for national and international navy projects.

Many electrical systems, devices, and components are used on modern ships. These have to be supplied with power and connected to each other via control cables. The power supply is realized via a multi-stage distribution system with complex installations.

For large ships, around 20,000 cables with a total length of several hundred kilometres have to be installed. The installation work, such as the cable pulling and connection work, keeps a large number of trained employees busy for several years.

Foto der Ausstattung der Kontrollkabine eines Schiffs
©isawred | unsplash.com

Initial situation and challenges

In the past, WSAM relied on an in-house software solution to plan and implement installations of this size. The software was based on Microsoft Access and had been perfectly tailored to WSAM’s specific requirements for many years.

However, after more than 20 years in use, this software solution also presented the company with a number of challenges:

  1. Limited further development: the software’s original developers are no longer with the company. This made it increasingly difficult to continue developing the software or integrate new requirements to adapt to changing market conditions.

  2. Scalability: MS Access is not designed to efficiently handle large amounts of data and a growing user base.

  3. Data security: The software doesn’t offer the same data security and stability as modern relational database systems.

  4. Limited portability: MS Access databases are often restricted to certain Windows environments, making collaboration difficult.

With these challenges in mind, it was essential for WSAM to look for a modern, scalable and reliable software solution that could meet their current and future needs. This is where Inspired Consulting came into play in March 2022.

Our solution

Together with WSAM, Inspired developed a comprehensive solution concept for a viable, expandable and interoperable new development. We showed a way to analyze the legacy system, rebuild and improve the functionality and migrate the existing projects from the legacy system to the new solution.

The new system was to be implemented as a web technology with Java (SpringBoot) and MS SQL Server. Understanding the specific specialist domain and the individual processes and transforming them into a consistent and modern application turned out to be a greater challenge than the technical ones.

Screenshot der beschriebenen Anwendung
Screenshot 1.1: Documentation of cable laying

To tackle this challenge, WSAM and Inspired worked closely together in an agile development project for over 18 months and implemented the new software in an incremental and iterative process. This means that we at Inspired provided a new version at least once a week, which was demonstrated, tested and discussed.

Interesting features that were implemented in this way included

  • Automatic and manual routing of cables over hundreds of cable trays running through a ship in all dimensions to calculate the shortest route.

  • Calculation of occupancy rates of the cable trays and the weight distribution of the cables on the trays.

  • Construction support for electrical switchgear, with distributor and consumer hierarchies and power calculations.

  • Import of updated device lists and cable tray layouts and calculation of the effects of cables that have already been routed or pulled in.

  • Material logistics and ordering processes as well as integration of external cable suppliers.

Conclusion

The collaboration between WSAM and Inspired Consulting resulted in the development of a modern, web-based solution that meets the specific challenges of electrical engineering for ships. The switch from MS Access to Spring Boot and SQL Server enabled a scalable, secure, platform-independent application that meets all of WSAM’s requirements. The agile development method enabled continuous improvement and adaptation to changing requirements. The implemented features help to increase efficiency and accuracy in this complex area of marine electrical engineering.

Summary

New development of a software solution to support the design, assembly and wiring of electrical equipment on large ships (yachts, research and special ships, navy).

Our tasks:

  • Analysis of the legacy system (MS Access) and existing processes

  • Design and coordination of solution concept and architecture

  • Development of a UI prototype in Figma

  • New development of the product with modernized and optimized processes

  • Development of design support for electrical distributors and power calculation

  • Routing of cables shortest paths on pathways with Djikstra algorithm

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Picture of Oliver Tigges

Oliver Tigges

Oliver is one of the founders and CEOs of Inspired. In client projects, he is always particularly interested in mediating between the engine room and the boardroom. He also supports management in assessing the opportunities, risks and effects of pioneering and sustainable technology decisions.

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