The Need for ARGOS• International Commercial Ship Construction
The world's commercial shipyards are facing heightened economic pressures due to increasing competition and globalization. This has stressed shipyard bottom lines, causing them to demand more effective use of resources to reduce costs and increase productivity. The workloads in the world's largest shipyards typically overwhelm the optimization capabilities of scheduling products other than ARGOS, making it infeasible to create schedules that reasonably consider everything going on in the yard. At best, schedules for individual ships are maintained independently, with manual processes used in an attempt to coordinate resource usage and throughput among projects. Schedules typically take so long to produce that it is impractical to reschedule inside the production cycle when things go wrong. These conditions create a tremendous opportunity for ARGOS, which can schedule multiple years' production in the largest shipyard in hours while still achieving significant cost savings, reducing labor-use fluctuations, and responding to the changing production situation in a timely way. Annual savings in the commercial shipbuiling market could exceed $2 billion, simply through better utilization of existing shipyard resources. ARGOS is the only technology available that specifically targets realization of these savings.
• US Naval Ship Construction
Ship and submarine construction for the US Navy is done by US domestic shipyards. Unlike international yards, which typically compete on ships on a commodity basis, American yards typically compete for Navy business in much more complex ways. While cost is not necessarily the only (or even the primary) consideration, American yards nonetheless are under great pressure from the Navy and congress to manage their costs. While cost savings do not necessarily flow directly to the bottom line, congressional decisions about the number of ships to be built appears to be closely connected to the perception of value for the dollar and cost control. ARGOS provides tools that would let yards make significant progress on these important metrics.
• Refinery Turnarounds
Oil refineries need periodic complex overhauls (called "turnarounds"). Turnarounds involve thousands of tasks over a period of weeks, during which production must be shut down, at a cost of millions of dollars per day. Managing turnarounds requires balancing the costs of downtime and labor (often including housing workers in remote areas), as well as addressing competition for access to limited space. ARGOS is ideally suited to such complex, large-scale, optimization tasks.
• Staffing profile management
In addition to cost issues, shipyards, and in particular American yards, also have significant difficulty attracting and retaining the skilled workers needed in shipbuilding because of the "churn" in the labor force. When orderbook fluctuations cause significant shipyard disruption, workers laid off by a shipyard are likely to find employment elsewhere and be unwilling to return to shipyard work when they are needed. Similarly, unpredictable overtime levels tend to disrupt workers' lives, which negatively affects productivity and retention. ARGOS can help with this problem by engineering smooth workforce profiles and by minimizing the number of workers who might otherwise be considered excess during slow or idle work periods.
• Risk mitigation
ARGOS' advanced float-management capabilities, together with its ability to adaptively reschedule within the production cycle as actual conditions deviate from planned, mean that shipyards can reduce their vulnerability to unplanned disruptions of the ship construction schedule. This helps reduce risk by controlling milestone slippage and the need for workforce fluctuations, as well as by allowing on-the-fly replanning to avoid costly disruptions.