From design spiral to V-model: Changes in the ship design process

By Claire Cole

We’ve written before about the need for the marine industry to move away from the design spiral approach to ship design. While it has been adequate in the past, the design spiral can’t meet the growing complexity of modern vessels and the unique pressures affecting the industry today. But what replaces the design spiral, and how does that change the way teams work?

Why the design spiral isn’t the best approach for modern ship design

Since it was first identified in the 1950s, the design spiral has used a stepwise approach to ship design, where each design discipline works on its requirements, moving from initial design through to contract design. This happens for every requirement through every design phase.

However, today’s technology allows for a more integrated approach to the entire design process, allowing designers to evaluate requirements together in trade-off studies rather than in siloed teams. This approach is far more efficient than the design spiral, reducing risks and allowing for quick decision-making.

The V-model: A blueprint for a modern ship design process

The marine industry can take some inspiration from the automotive industry, which has adopted the V-model approach to design. The V-model represents a product creation process that summarizes the main design and validation steps and deliverables.

The key characteristics of the V-model are its recognition that decisions made at every point in the design process impact the options available for future decisions and that the design process involves iteration and collaboration. It attempts to increase traceability and synchronization throughout the design process. Applied to the marine industry, adopting a V-model means taking a more integrated approach to ship design, which involves new tools and styles of working.

Ready to learn more about the V-model?

For more information on how the marine industry can apply the principles of the V-model to its operations, download our free report. If you’re interested in learning more about the emerging trends in the industry that will take it to 2030 and beyond, we suggest checking out our entire Marine 2030 series.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at