Case study Sunseeker

A global leader in the design and build of luxury motor yachts, Sunseeker International exports 99 percent of its product range and employs over 1,800 highly trained staff in the company’s shipyards on Britain’s South Coast. Sunseeker International is widely recognized as the preeminent marine brand in the world today. Sunseeker has more than 40 licenses of NX and Teamcenter. 

We have worked with the specialists at OnePLM for 12 years, and their technical expertise is second-to-none,” says Luke Stride, design office manager and principal design engineer. “They are always professional and exceptionally helpful. In particular we are very happy with the software training they provide, as we are able to learn using our own designs.”

Sunseeker yacht
Sunseeker design

Business Challenges

Once external surfaces are confirmed, the focus moves to interiors and the detail of cabinets, as well as moving objects such as doors and lifting platforms. “Ten years ago we used NX purely for the exterior,” Stride says. “Now we use it for interior design, systems and laminates. It’s absolutely fantastic for these. It gives clear and simple renderings.” He notes that the design team’s constant challenge is to make best use of available space, particularly as there are numerous systems such as air conditioning units, gear boxes, generators and radar equipment to fit into a boat. Some of these are procured from specialist suppliers, so Sunseeker designers create packaging envelopes using NX.

NX is always on screen at weekly design review meetings, and it is easy to double-check dimensions, identify potential clashes, confirm compliance with rules and regulations and amend the master model on-the- spot, if necessary.

A boat is a very, very complicated product, but I can find no limitation with NX. There is nothing I cannot do using NX and we are noticing that naval architecture software is being developed to integrate with it. Every release of NX provides a new arena in which it is quicker or easier to do something.

Keys to Success

The implementation of NX and Teamcenter gave Sunseeker the opportunity to begin standardizing components, and sharing these is now the norm. “A boat might have 4,000 to 5,000 components on it, and as we make a range of models it is important to have families of parts,” explains Stride. It is also extremely easy to locate parts with Teamcenter for re-use or resizing.” One of the original reasons for implementing NX at Sunseeker was to integrate design with manufacturing.

NX gives us styling intent and fine detail in one piece of software,” explains Graham Lodge, director of manufacturing. “That means that we can go from concept to engineering with absolute accuracy, even on extremely complex shapes, which is particularly significant for us. Some industries, such as the automotive industry, build prototypes; we can’t.

We actually produce 95 percent of what we design. Essentially we have to go straight to ‘first-of-type’ product, which can be anywhere from 40 feet to 155 feet long. We can do this because NX enables us to include a phenomenal level of detail at the design stage.” The digital data available using NX includes all systems on the boat plus pipes, cabling and furniture, so the level of visibility available to the shop floor has increased dramatically over the years.

NX has made my life easier because I can interrogate a solid model as well as inspect a flat piece of paper. We can, for example, run an animation to simulate a process. We can slice into a 3D model and produce drawings of numerous section views to illustrate a complex shape for everyone to see, including our manual craft teams. For the latest 86 model, a long-range yacht with large-volume tanks, we generated over 1,500 drawings. Previously, we would have had about 300 drawings and they would have been basic line plans. Drawing information has become part of our quality process. Quite often there are late changes, yet we can still apply them.”

Using Teamcenter, Sunseeker produces Portable Document Format (PDF) documents from the hard data it stores and issues them, along with workflows, to the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Exploded drawings show the sequence of the build process and these assist with planning, enable streamlined procurement and minimize stock.

Sunseeker yacht
Sunseeker yacht


Sunseeker has successfully accelerated the new product development process. “By feeding more information into the design process, we can produce new models more quickly and get them to market faster,” states Lodge. “Before using NX, we were struggling to design and develop two new models per year. Now that there is less onus on the shop floor, NX is giving us the freedom to do what we do best and we are introducing between three and five new models per year.

The fact that Sunseeker is using the latest and best technology puts us on a level with the leading engineering companies in automotive and aerospace,” Lodge concludes. “We can attract the right caliber of people, and I feel that we are developing them as well as our tools, materials and processes.

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