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Practice Report

3D Positioning of a Ship Block at Hull Erection

Markku Manninen, Ilkka Kaisto
A.M.S. Ltd, Oulu/Finland


3D Positioning of a Ship Block at Hull Erection


Fig.1. A simplified 3D wire frame drawing of a double bottom type of structure.

The drawing is created using the DCP20 program of DCA-TC System

3D Building Frame System

Building Axis (BA)

Parallel Axis Line to BPl


Principle Frame Point (PFP)

Frame Point
Axis Point

3D Building Frame System (BFS)

Fig. 2. A simplified drawing of the 3D Building Frame System.

Local Object References


Object (OPl) Plane


This application report describes

how the DAC-TC system is used
to establish a 3D Building Frame
System at the site and how
this frame system is used when
assembling the block structure.
An example of such a structure
is the double bottom of an ecobox type of carrier. A simplified
3D drawing of such a block is
shown in Fig. 1.

The DCA-TC System

Building Plane (BPl)

Modern shipbuilders have widely

adopted the concept of modular
construction and are realising
the benefits associated with these
methods [1]. The most critical
assembly phase is erecting the
hull. It is most important that
the huge 3D structural blocks
assembled at this stage are accurately built. To achieve the
required manufacturing accuracy
these structural modules are
nowadays commonly built with
excess material which is trimmed
before assembly. Advanced 3D
co-ordinate measurement technology can be used to position
these blocks efficiently at the
hull erection site.

Object (OA) Axis

The DCA-TC is a single sensor

3-Dimensional Control and
Anlysis System for shipbuilding
and similar industries. The
system comprises
Leica TC2002 a high
accuracy industrial 3D sensor
as the measuring device
A.M.S. DCP10 a powerful
on-board dimensional control
program installed in a rugged
handhold Control Unit and
used for the dimensional control
tasks at the production site,
A.M.S. DCP20 a dimensional
analysis program run on a PC
and used to present the results
graphically and numerically

Frame (FA) Axis
POP; Principle Object Point
OPl1; First Object Plane Point
OPl2; Second Object Plane Point
OPl3; Third Object Plane Point
OA1; First Object Axis Point
OA2; Second Axis Point

Fig. 3. A simplified drawing of a double bottom type of structure where the

local object references are shown

3D Building Frame System

The 3D Building Frame System
(BFS) is a 3D co-ordinate system
located at the erection site. It is
the reference system used to
determine the location of a point
in the building environment
during the hull erection process.

A typical BFS is illustrated in a

Fig. 2. The BFS is established as
described below and the following terminology is used:
1. One plane is called the
Building Plane (BPl). It is
parallel to the plane defined
by the x and y axis of the
BFS. The orientation of the
BPl is based on gravity or
on some known (reference)
points. Sometimes the plane
is tilted with a known angle
of inclination, which is
defined about the axis perpendicular to the Building
2. One line is called the
Building Axis (BA). This axis
is parallel to the x axis of
the BFS. The direction of the
BA is determined by two
specific axis points. Often
the direction of the axis is
clearly marked on the ground.
Sometimes lines parallel to
the building axis are established and marked as well.
3. Permanent points are determined and marked within the
erection environment. These
points are called Frame
Points. The 3D co-ordinate
values of the Frame Points
are determined in the BFS.
One frame point is defined
as the Principle Frame Point

Principle and local object

In shipbuilding, a 3D co-ordinate
system which is used as the
reference system to determine the
location of an object point is
called the Ship Co-ordinate System
(Ship CS). The entire ship geometry is determined using the
Ship CS as the reference system.
In shipbuilding the object alignment (merging blocks together)
is traditionally based upon
the principle object references.
These references are the Bottom
Plane (sometimes called Bottom
Line or BL), the Centre Plane
(Centre Line or CL) and the
Frame Plane (Frame Line or FrL).
The reference planes appear
as reference lines on the object
surfaces. These principle object
references are organised in
the Ship CS in the following way

The Bottom Plane is parallel to

the plane defined by the x and
y axis of the Ship CS. The plane
defines the zero value for the z
The Centre Plane is parallel to
the plane defined by the x
and z axis of the Ship CS. The
plane defines zero value for
the y co-ordinate.
The Frame Plane is parallel to
the plane defined by the z
and y axis of the Ship CS. The
origin of the Ship CS defines
the zero value for the frame

In each object (structural module

of the ship hull) we use the
following terminology for the
local object references, which
are used for the alignment of
each individual object (see Fig. 3
for illustration):
1. One plane is called the
Object Plane (OPl). Typically the OPl is parallel
to the Bottom Plane and is
established with three
clearly defined plane points
(OPl1, OPl2 and OPl3).
2. A primary reference line is
called Object Axis (OA).
Typically the OA is parallel
to the Centre Line (CL) and
is established with two
clearly defined object (axis)
points (OA1 and OA2).
3. A line perpendicular to the
Object Axis is called the
Frame Axis (FA) and it can be
established with two clearly
defined object (axis) points.
4. One object point is called the
Principle Object Point (POP).

Positioning procedure
The positioning task is to
align the first ship block on the
erection site relative to the
Building Frame System and then
the following blocks relative to
the first block. (Fig. 4 illustrates
the positioning of the first block).
The positioning task is carried
out with the aid of the DCP10
program installed in the rugged
hand held Control Unit of the
DCA-TC System. The Direction
based Orientation Method DOM
is used to set-up the relation
between the measuring instrument and the Building Frame
System [5]. Here it is assumed
that the Building Plane of the

Positioning a Block at Hull Erection



Object Axis



Object Plane


Building Axis

Frame Point
3D Building Frame System

Principle Frame Point

Fig. 4. A simplified drawing showing the positioning of a double bottom type of block on the hull erection site using
the Building Frame System as a reference

BFS is tilted with a known angle

of inclination. The procedure
of positioning a block on the hull
erection site is as follows:
Step 1: Orientation of the
sensor to the BFS
First the horizontal plane of the
sensor (active tilt compensator)
is selected as the reference
plane. Then the direction of the
Building Axis (x direction of
the BFS) is defined by measuring
two axis points and then the
Principle Frame Point (the 3D
co-ordinate values known in the
BFS) is defined and measured
as the point of translation. Finally
the Building Plane is rotated around the y axis of the BFS with
the known angle of inclination.
This completes the sensor
orientation to the BFS. Further
measured 3D co-ordinate values
are then obtained in the BFS.
(Note: The sensor cannot be
located on the deck of the block
while positioning.)

Dimensional control on site with TC2002 and DCP10

Step 2: Alignment of the Object

Plane of the block with
the Building Plane of the BFS
First the block is approximately
located in its correct position
and orientation. Then the Object
Plane is aligned relative to the
Building Plane. This is done
by measuring the first plane point
(OPl1) of the Object Plane
and then two other plane points
(OPl2, OPl3). The values are
obtained in the BFS. The block
is positioned so that the z
co-ordinate of the two plane
points (OPl2, OPl3) are the same
as the z co-ordinate of the first
plane point (OPl1). (Some extra,
redundant plane points, e. g.
OPl4 and OPl5, can be used to
ensure there are no distortions
after the block transfer.)
Step 3: Alignment of the Object
Axis of the block with the
Building Axis of the BFS
The first axis point (OA1) of the
Object Axis and then the second
axis point (OA2) are measured.
The values are obtained in the
BFS. The block is positioned so
that the y co-ordinate value
of the second axis point (OA2) is
the same as the y co-ordinate
value of the first axis point (OA1).
Sometimes extra points can be
used to guarantee the orientation
of the block. If points OPl4 and
OPl5 are used for that purpose
then the x co-ordinate of these
points should be the same.

Step 4: Determination of
the Frame Points in Ship
Co-ordinate System
As a result of Steps 1-3 the
Object Plane and the Object Axis
are aligned with the Building
Plane and with the Building Axis
of the BFS respectively. This
means that the axis of the Ship
CS and the axis of the BFS
are parallel. The 3D co-ordinate
value of the Principle Object
Point (POP) of the block defines
the position of the block in the
Ship CS. If the orientation of the
sensor is done as described in
the first step of this procedure
and the Principle Object Point,
POP (instead of the Principle
Frame Point) is defined and
measured as the point of translation, then the 3D co-ordinates
of each measured point is
obtained in the Ship CS.
After executing Steps 14 the 3D
co-ordinates of a selected set
of frame points are measured and
the values are obtained in the
Ship CS. Subsequently the orientation of the sensor can each
time be done directly in the Ship
CS so that the next blocks are
positioned relative to the Ship
CS. Regular checks are needed
to maintain the orientation and
the position of the hull structure
relative to the BFS during the
erection process.

Illustrations, descriptions and technical data are not binding

and may be changed without notice.
Printed in Switzerland Copyright by Leica AG, Heerbrugg, Switzerland, 1996
U1-299-0EN VII.96

Benefits of the 3D
When positioning block structures at the erection site, 3D
measurements are required. In
such cases 3D co-ordinate
measurements based on the use
of a single sensor are proven
to be much more efficient and
straightforward than traditional
measurements [2], [3], [4].
The measuring accuracy of the
TC2002 instrument is better than
one millimetre within a wide
range (from 1.7 to hundreds of
meters). This means that the
DCA-TC system is well suited
for positioning tasks erection of
the hull. The high global accuracy
can be maintained when the
same Building Frame System is
used to position each individual
hull module. It is also proven
that well defined alignment procedures based on the 3D positioning principle will lead to a
significant reduction in working
hours and in production time at
the hull erection stage [6].

1. Yuuzaki, M., Okumato, Y.,
An Approach to New Ship
Production System Based on
Advanced Accuracy Control.
Proceedings of the NSRP Ship
Production Symposium, New
Orleans, Louisiana, Sep. 1992.
2. Horsmon, A., Lupica C.,
Advanced Industrial Measurement Systems for Productive
Shipbuilding. Proceedings
of the NSRP Ship Production
Symposium, Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, Aug. 1990.
3. Manninen, M., Jaatinen J.,
Productive Method and System
to Control Dimensional
Uncertainties at Final Assembly Stages in Ship Production.
Journal of Ship Production,
Vol 8 Nov. 1990, pp. 244249.
4. Heikkil, R., Manninen, M.,
Three Dimensional Control
System for Precast Architectural Concrete Production.
Concrete Precasting Plant and
Technology, Iss. 10 (1994),
pp. 6267.
5. Manninen, M., 3D Measurement and Analysis of a ship
Block. A.M.S. Publication No:
6005 (Application report),
Oulu Finland, 1996.
6. Schumacher, V., Verbal communication (Manninen/
Schumacher). Flensburger
Schiffsbau-Gesellschaft, FSG,
Flensburger, Germany, 1996.

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Photogrammetry and Metrology
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