The application of multi-objective robust design methods in ship design

Robert Ian Whitfield, Bill Hills, Graham Coates

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When designing large complex vessels, the evaluation of a particular design can be both complicated and time consuming. Designers often resort to the use of concept design models enabling both a reduction in complexity and time for evaluation. Various optimisation methods are then typically used to explore the design space facilitating the selection of optimum or near optimum designs. It is now possible to incorporate considerations of seakeeping, stability and costs at the earliest stage in the ship design process. However, to ensure that reliable results are obtained, the models used are generally complex and computationally expensive. Methods have been developed which avoid the necessity to carry out an exhaustive search of the complete design space. One such method is described which is concerned with the application of the theory of Design Of Experiments (DOE) enabling the design space to be efficiently explored. The objective of the DOE stage is to produce response surfaces which can then be used by an optimisation module to search the design space. It is assumed that the concept exploration tool whilst being a simplification of the design problem, is still sufficiently complicated to enable reliable evaluations of a particular design concept. The response surface is used as a representation of the concept exploration tool, and by it's nature can be used to rapidly evaluate a design concept hence reducing concept exploration time. While the methodology has a wide applicability in ship design and production, it is illustrated by its application to the design of a catamaran with respect to seakeeping. The paper presents results exploring the design space for the catamaran. A concept is selected which is robust with respect to the Relative Bow Motion (RBM), the heave, pitch and roll at any particular waveheading. The design space is defined by six controllable design parameters; hull length, breadth to draught ratio, distance between demihull centres, coefficient of waterplane, longitudinal centre of floatation, longitudinal centre of buoyancy, and by one noise parameter, the waveheading. A Pareto-optimal set of solutions is obtained using RBM, heave, pitch and roll as criteria. The designer can then select from this set the design which most closely satisfies their requirements. Typical solutions are shown to yield average reductions of over 25% in the objective functions when compared to earlier results obtained using conventional optimisation methods.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computer Applications in Ship Building (ICCAS'99)
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • shipbuilding
  • engineering design
  • robust design
  • ship design


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