These days a lot of Naval Architects are leaving well paying jobs to start their own entrepreneurial ventures. In this article, I will be exploring the minimal requirements required by a Naval Architect to start his own entrepreneurial venture.
Different Avenues for a Naval Architect as an Entrepreneur
i). Start their own Shipyard / Ship Repair Yard
ii). Start your Design firm
iii). Start a Naval Architectural Consultancy
Starting one's own shipyard / repair yard will be beyond the means of a majority of wannabe entrepreneurs because of the large amount of capital involved. I will not discuss this topic, any further.
Start your own Design Firm
A Naval Architect, by profession is a designer. Design is his bread and butter and hence setting up a design firm will not be all that difficult for a wannabe entrepreneur. Let us see one by one, the minimal requirements for setting up a firm. I will not go into the business plans and cash flows required to set up a design firm as there are lot of books / articles in the net covering the same.
i). Knowledge Base : A thorough knowledge in the inside-out of Naval Architecture touching all aspects of Naval Architecture. These include (but might not cover everything) Lines Plan, Hydrostatics, Stability, Initial Weight & Volume design, weight estimation, volume estimation, Resistance, Propulsion, Ship Structure, Sea keeping and Maneuvering. This knowledge base can be you yourself, and if you feel that you want to augment your intellectual base, then you can hire naval architects to work for you. If you are a One Man Army, then your costs for maintaining the Knowledge base will be restricted to the books and journals you subscribe to, to keep yourself updated. If you are employing Naval Architects, then you have to factor in their costs too. However if you are stating out as an Entrepreneur, then I am confident that your knowledge base will be sufficient to set you up, in the initial stages. Later on, once your business picks up, you can augment your manpower.
ii). Office for Hiring : You should have an office space to set up your Naval Architectural Firm. The Office is to have 1-2 rooms, covering a floor area of approximately 1000-1200 sqft. The costs will depend on the area where you have chosen to hire your office.
iii). Softwares; In the initial days, all the Naval Architectural calculations were done manually or at the most, by using Slide Rules and Logarithmic tables. However, with the advent of computers, things have changed. Nowadays sophisticated softwares are there to cater to each and every aspect of Naval Architectural calculations. These softwares start with the concept design and evolve on to full design at the workshop level stage. However these proprietary softwares are very costly as they are not mass produced to cater to millions of users. A single license can cost up to a million dollars. This will make it out of reach for most of the budding Naval Architects. However, if one does have the resources, then go for it. Some of the proprietary softwares used in the Ship Design field are TRIBON, AUTOKON & SHIPCONSTRUCTOR.
However these days, with the advent of Open Source Software and freeware, one can get almost all the functionalities of proprietary softwares in these OSS and free softwares, though may be not, all in one.
For drafting of lines plan, one can go for AUTOCAD. A single license, costs anywhere between 1000-1500 US $. However, these days there are excellent freeware drafting softwares, which one can use. I recommend FREESHIP, an excellent software with all the drafting and graphic functionalities of a Proprietary software.
For Hydrostatic calculations and detailed stability calculations, one can go for MS EXCEL or Open Office spreadsheet. With the help of these spreadsheets one can do the calculations for Hydrostatics, Stability, Resistance (Based on various empirical formulae) and even propulsion calculations.
I will talk about other free open source softwares in another article. Let me summarize the gist of my argument here.
The softwares to set up a Ship Design Consultancy Firm are now freely available as Open Source Software. If at all, some calculations have to be carried out, which are not catered for, by these softwares, one can always go for Spreadsheet applications using Open Office or other similar Open Source products.
iv). Other Overheads: Includes office furniture, stationary, etc.
Starting your own Consultancy Firm
A Naval Architect is a jack of all trades. His field encompasses a host of other fields like Mechanical Engineering, Architecture, Interior Designing, Chemical Engineering, Corrosion, Welding Technology, Software writing skills, Project Management, Hydrodynamics, Ocean & Offshore Structures, to name only a few.
He can offer consultancy in a wide range of subjects.
i). Initial Concept design which includes Sizing, Hydrostatics & Stability, Resistance & Propulsion, Initial estimates of weight.
ii). Propeller-Engine Matching
iii). Boat / Ferry design
iv). Propeller Design
v). Structural Calculations / Buckling Calculations
vi). Computational Fluid Dynamics
vii). Finite Element Analysis
viii). Offshore structures
ix). Submarine cables and piping design
x). Resistance calculations
xi). Maneuvering calculations
xii). Seakeeping Calculations
xiii). Welding & Corrosion related consultancy
xiv). Many others which cannot be detailed down