Most shipyards do not have the luxury of establishing themselves on a ‘green field’ site and adopting an ideal layout. ‘Green Field’ means a site completely empty of development, in an ideally located area in a harbour or port, for the construction of ships.  Shipyards are established in the beginning by building smaller vessels. As the Shipyards make more profit and expand into other markets for the construction and provisioning of ever larger ships, the shipyards slowly increase in size to accommodate increases in orders.

Shipyards are also very often restricted by a river bank and/or the modified production flow lines required.

Shipyard Layout

The following diagram is a good example of a Shipyard layout. Take note of how the various sections feed into each other as the construction process occurs. 

This layout consists of the following areas, as can be seen on the layout image:

Administration Offices: All administration takes place here.

Plate and Section Stockyard: All plates and sections that have been ordered as per the construction drawings of the ship are stored in this area prior to preparation.

Marshaling and Preparation: Plates and sections are placed here in the order that they will be required during further machining process. Prior to machining processes taking place these plates are prepared. We will touch on the details of preparation later.

Plate and Section Machining: Plates and sections are machined and cut to their corrected sizes ready for assembly.

Unit Assembly: The various units that are required to construct a block is assembled in this area. I will explain exactly what a unit and block is a little bit later.

Pipe and Engine Shop: All piping and foundations required are manufactured here and moved on to the Module Assembly and Preparation Area where the piping sections and pallets are arranged and or fitted in its specific configuration for a specific module. Once this is completed it is moved onwards to the Unit Assembly area.

Block Fabrication: Units are brought together and welded to form blocks. These are the blocks that will form the hull when married to each other.

Outfit Shops: While in the Block Fabrication shop, fitters from the outfit shop move equipment, pipes, cables, etc. to the Block Fabrication area where the blocks are outfitted as far as reasonably possible. This outfitting shop also serves the Covered Building Dock (where blocks are joined) and the Fitting Out Basin where a ship whose blocks have all been joined, and is now floating, are fitted out to completion.

Examples of Shipyard Layouts

Below is an example of GEMAK Shipyard’s layout. This Shipyard makes use of two floating docks in order to assemble the blocks that constitute the ship. GEMAK Shipyard operates out of Tuzla, Istanbul.

The following image shows Grand Bahama Shipyard’s layout. This Shipyard also makes use of floating docks in order to assemble the blocks that constitute the ship. Grand Bahama Shipyard operates out of the Bahamas.

Next is Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries’ layout (now DAMEN Mangalia). This yard also makes dry docks, not floating docks, to assemble the blocks that constitute the ship. This yard operates out of Mangalia, Romania.

Asmar Talcahuano Shipyard operates out of Talcahuano, Chile. Note the amount of floating and standard dry docks this yard uses to assemble the blocks that constitute the ship.

The Ideal Shipyard Layout

What would constitute the ideal layout for a shipyard? The most important, and possibly the only factor, is to ensure for the easy flow of materials. Thus, there should be no bottlenecks within the production line. As soon as material is required to construct a unit, it must be available to the workforce. The same goes for the assembly and outfitting of blocks.

The advantages of ensuring that an easy flow of materials is achieved are:

  • A uniform workload, thus all personnel working at the same pace without unnecessary delays between operations.
  • A shorter ship build cycle.
  • Economies in construction practices.


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