Superyacht Technology News talks past, present and future tech with MB92’s Senior Technical Manager Francesc Codina and Project Directors Jordi Ariet & Rubén Carmona
Tell us about MB92 – what refit facilities do you offer?
With over 25 years of experience in the superyacht refit and repair industry, the company has become one of the global leaders in the sector. Starting in 1992 with operations and service on smaller pleasure yachts, the company is now capable of catering to the needs of superyachts up to and beyond 200m LOA. The facilities include over 124,000m2 of operational areas, a 2,000 ton syncrolift, 220m Dry dock, 150t Travelift and construction taking place on a new 4000 ton shiplift, due to be completed later in 2018. The company values of listening, learning and growing continue to drive the organisation as it strives to work smarter and deliver the highest quality. Recent partnerships have been formed with Blohm+Voss La Ciotat as well as Compositeworks La Ciotat that underline this commitment and look set to open new opportunities for our clients in the south of France.
And what are your roles at the company?
Francesc Codina – Senior Technical Manager: The technical department is responsible for the production of plans such as: provision of yachts in shipyard, verification plans, dimensional control, provision of equipment / structures and assistance to the operations department. We oversee the creation of specifications and assistance to the Budget Teams / Project Managers, in highly technical work, as well as the intermediation between external engineering and subcontractors during the development of the project. The technical department is also responsible for the production of technical procedures and quality standards for MB92.
Jordi Ariet & Rubén Carmona – Project Directors: The Projects Department is responsible for executing refit projects that are carried out in the shipyard through the coordination and management of collaborating companies, suppliers and MB92 internal departments according to the contracts and budgets signed by the commercial department. Among other tasks are project planning, coordination of suppliers and execution of work, preparation of budgets for additional work, contact with the client during the progress of the project and assistance following departure.
Our key factor to success is the experienced and skilled management team alongside the support of our committed contractors that share the same working philosophy as MB92. Studying the project in great detail before starting helps to identify those supplies with long lead times as well as to prepare all resources to deliver a project with a significant scope of work and limited time. During the life of a project, it is quite common to confront unforeseen situations. This is where good communication flow among all the stakeholders involved helps to identify solutions and apply them.
In your eyes, what has been the most exciting piece of technology released for superyachts this year?
We have all been able to see the amount of innovation that the industry is offering on a yearly basis. As mentioned earlier, we are quite intrigued about the possibilities that digital solutions can offer and how they can be implemented in the life of a superyacht refit project.
In terms of specific technology released this year, we are impressed with the Kymeta mTenna (Flat Satellite Antenna). Traditional satellite dishes are heavy, large, consume a lot of power, cost a lot and still often require mechanical steering. This light-weight and easy to install antenna is the first of its kind designed for mass production. It consumes less, utilises wide-angle scanning and demonstrates excellent beam performance. It will also provide yachts with greater flexibility in terms of the aesthetics of the vessel as the larger dome antennas will not be needed and designers will be able to better incorporate the smaller, flatter antenna into their visions.
In terms of staying at the cutting edge of the industry, what benefits do you think MB92’s location in Barcelona brings you as a refit yard?
As well as being a strategic stop off point between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean yachting destinations, Barcelona has a number of additional advantages that our clients can benefit from. As a globally renowned centre for technology and innovation, Barcelona is at the forefront for new developments within the industry and therefore allows our clients much greater scope when looking for new solutions or opportunities. Logistically-speaking, Barcelona is also perfectly situated. Barcelona international airport is 20 minutes away and easy access by sea and road mean that support to any project is readily available.
What do you envision the shipyards of the future to look like? Imagine a shipyard in 2025…
The evolution of technology within the superyacht industry is rapid and shipyards must be ready to adapt to these everchanging needs. However, any new technology being considered for the shipyard would have to be carefully studied and would need to improve the service offered to the client. The refit shipyard of 2025 itself would probably appear more or less as the shipyard of today and any changes would be subtle.
Areas that could be implemented are in the digitalisation of work processes as well as virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR). VR would open new possibilities for clients to gain a real feel for how their vision would be realized. A digital walk-in model of the designed yacht could supersede the existing technology of 3D renders and shipyards will have to be ready for this. This may require larger VR & AR rooms instead of meeting rooms and new positions in the workforce would be required to cater for this new technology, with 3D software engineers forming part of the on-site staff.
Are there any exciting new refit projects that you are working on at the moment?
We take the confidentiality of our clients very seriously and are not willing to discuss names yet we are very fortunate to have worked on a great number of projects over the last 25 years. But we have faced a wide spectrum of technical challenges that any professional would be excited about being a part of.
In the current market, do you believe that every piece of tech created for yachts is both wanted and useful?
There have been a great number of impressive innovations over the years that, although not particularly useful or wanted, have gone on to inspire more applicable technology or, in the right hands, have become essential tools. On the other hand, a significant amount were considered useful at conception, turned out to be the complete opposite in practice. The superyacht industry is at the forefront of technology innovation and a lot of what works filters through to other areas, and although not necessarily wanted or useful on a superyacht, the technology can often find a better use elsewhere within the industry.
What are the big focuses for MB92’s R&D department?
We are unable to talk about any specific R&D projects that MB92 is currently developing. However, innovation is central to our philosophy, ensuring that we understand the necessities of our clients and then work to meet them in ever-smarter ways.
Talking about 3D printing, we foresee plenty of applications for this technology in the future but we understand it is currently at an early stage of what it can offer to the superyacht industry in terms of Refit Shipyards.
Which areas of yacht technology do you think have come a long way in the last few years?
We have seen many advancements in the balancing of energy to manoeuvre boats across all kinds of services such as Propulsion or AC systems, as well as many innovations that have been implemented in terms of communications, navigation and AV/IT. Luckily, this business is well supported by Owners, aiming to make their visions a reality.
And which areas of technology could still be improved to help superyachts function better?
From our side, there are three key areas that come to mind. Firstly, information is a really important resource for a shipyard. Every single yacht generates a huge amount of data. Often, the available information is limited or non-existing, and this can have detrimental effects on time and resource allocation.
By developing technology to improve the way in which we collect, collate and integrate the use of big data during the season, we would, for example, be able to make a prediction on the condition of the yacht equipment and therefore perform a more accurate estimation for the maintenance plan to be performed during the refit, or even beforehand. As part of our commitment to improve, we are always open to technology that would help us to improve our working efficiency. We believe that further steps forward in the digitalisation of processes throughout the project will facilitate this greater efficiency and improve the overall service for all stakeholders. We actively support any solutions that could have a positive impact upon how to manage projects smarter and, as a result, benefit our clients.
Finally, an area in which we all have such a vested interest is the environment. We are committed to embracing technology that would help in the battle to improve on the environmental impact our industry has. Despite the improvements made over the last few years, there is still a significant journey ahead and technology will have to play a key role in this.
Thank you Francesc, Jordi & Rubén
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