Catamarans International Global Production
The cost of development and tooling for the production of a new vessel range is a massive undertaking for any marine company. When the vessels you specialize in are Catamarans around 10 to 20 metres in length with enormous surface areas the cost of development escalates into millions of dollars. The lower production runs associated with these larger catamarans makes the task of getting a return on the development cost even more challenging.
Catamarans International has developed a business plan to address the enormous investment cost required to bring new models into production. Using the example of the motor industry Catamarans International has invested heavily in design, model testing and the development of an integrated model range that offers flexibility between models and efficiencies in production. The end result is to have a world class Catamaran range that will be produced in multiple locations around the world.
An important component of the development was to develop a hull design that could be female moulded while retaining performance efficiency through out the extensive model range. This has been achieved by careful design which includes having 3 spray rails built into the hull form to cater for different displacements and by having “plant on’s” in the mould. These “plant on’s” are used to adjust the length, the individual hull beam and to change the hull shape aft to target the optimum speed of each vessel in the range. Model testing was a key factor in developing the hull shapes to ensure that performance was not compromised through the vessel range. The model testing included the design and construction of one typical full displacement model and one typical semi displacement model. These were then tested against what would be code named as the “New Generation” hull form. After extensive testing between each hull had ensured that the “New Generation” hull form offered a measurable improvement over the existing hull forms tested a second “New Generation” model was constructed. This enabled further development with one model having development work carried out on it and the other used as the bench mark. The model results were backed up by references back to actual full scale vessels as a check to the accuracy of the model testing data.
Another step in the model testing was to fit foils to the models and to check how the data collected from the models compared to the actual foils fitted to the 50ft Powercat that the owner of Catamarans International operated. The foils tested on the models proved very successful aided by the fact that the hull design from the outset had the foil capability built into it to maximize efficiency. Extensive model testing of a variety of foil types enabled further progress so the end result was very successful and confirmed the promise that the owner had already experienced with foils on his own vessel.
In conjunction with the hull design was the development of a range of vessels and moulds that were highly integrated while ensuring that each model in the range had a very distinct individual flavour. Key to this process was the requirement to make the vessels very easy to manufacture and to assemble while having the ability to build multiple vessels in the range that were capable of being produced from each mould. This has been the most detailed and complicated stage of the development taking thousands of hours of detailed design happening simultaneously between all the vessels in the range but it was a vital ingredient to the success of the entire project. The efficiency gains of female mould production become clearly evident with a 16 metre hull and wingdeck able to be completed by 4 people in 6 weeks compared with well over 6 months for a custom built craft to the same standard.
Catamarans International recognized early in the development that construction detail, good vessel performance, great economy and efficient production were essential for any vessel to be highly successful. Equally important to a vessels success are style, functional vessel operation and great layouts.
Catamarans International put an enormous effort into these areas and have come up with a range of interior designs and styling ideas that set new bench marks for semi-production Catamarans.
Some of the styling ideas were bought about by specific requirements of individual models. The lower level of the 16m Express helm station and a desire to have the vessels as offshore capable as possible meant that storing the dinghy on the foredeck was not an option. Having the dinghy aft in the cockpit area creates problems when game fishing. The solution was to place a dinghy that can be up to 3.1 metres in length and powered by an outboard of up to 30hp in its own locker below the foredeck level.
Another area that the owner of Catamarans International wanted to address is the requirement to have a full walk around queen sized berth in the owner’s cabin. This has been achieved with each version having a superb owner’s cabin with excellent light and ventilation and with outstanding visibility through a lower level curved glass front screen. The 15 and 16 metre Flybridge and Express Powercats both have the option of up to 4 private cabins and 3 bathrooms.
The Commercial workboat and passenger range is an integral part of the overall business plan and adds to the versatility of the range while creating a larger market for sales. 6 Commercial passenger models are available from 15 metres to 20 metres with a number of versions within each size. The low maintenance and lighter weight of composite Ferries make them ideally suited to today’s highly competitive operating environment.