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TECHNICAL FEATURE – Computers join our craftsmen to build Riviera motor yachts

Edition 2 - 2018

TECHNICAL FEATURE – Computers join our craftsmen to build Riviera motor yachts

Dan Henderson, Riviera’s Design and Engineering Manager.

In recent editions of Experience, we have discussed how our team utilises computer systems to design and test the myriad components that come together to create all Riviera and Belize luxury motor yachts.

Riviera’s unsurpassed reputation for quality and design innovation is based upon a number of critical factors: world’s best components and materials, well-trained and highly skilled craftspeople and designers and the most sophisticated and flexible design and manufacturing systems.

These systems include Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computer-Aided Machining (CAM).

CAD and CAM have evolved since the 1950s when the U.S. Air Force began testing an air defence system known as SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) to graphically depict data received on Radar systems. The system was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where in 1960, computer scientists produced yet another project called Sketchpad, an application that is now considered to be the first design program with an industrial application.

Not surprisingly, the motor vehicle industry was the first commercial adopter. At the time, these programs required the resources of “mainframe” computers that were large enough to fill entire rooms and the monitors the designers had to use had just 11-inch screens!

Today, Riviera’s design team models concepts in three dimensions and full colour on large and sophisticated computer screens, working together as a team on a network of computers, each of which has capabilities many hundreds of times greater than those early machines and a footprint small enough to sit at the corner of a desk.

“The designers can view a new motor yacht concept or even a small component from every angle, spinning it around on-screen to better visualise the finished product,” says Dan Henderson, Riviera’s Design and Engineering Manager.

As we revealed in the previous edition of Experience, Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is then employed to model stress in a highly sophisticated virtual environment through the simulated application of force to them.

Once the team is fully satisfied with the design and the durability of every component, the third element of the system is deployed.

CAM goes to work

Computer-aided machining (CAM) reduces waste and energy and improves the process for a motor yacht build and production efficiency through increased production speeds, raw material consistency and more precise tooling accuracy.

CAM also assists our team in project management, material tracking and planning.

With the design complete, computer files are generated and sent to five-axis router machines that begin the build process by automatically rough machining a plug for every major component from a block of foam which is then fibreglassed. Tooling paste is applied by a robot head to the glass then the router makes a final machine cut on the cured paste with tolerance to less than one millimetre.

The router head machining a component.

The routers are mounted on large rigs that allow the router head to move longitudinally, sideways, up and down and at every possible angle to bring an often intricate design towards reality.

A five-axis router mounted on its rig.

While the hull, deck and other components are being cut by the router, Riviera’s joinery team receives computer files to generate the many timber components that go into a motor yacht utilising in-house computer numerically controlled (CNC) routers.

Top: Machined hull plug.
Above: A machined section of the deck plug for the Riviera 68 Sports Motor Yacht.

“These computer systems combined offer our teams both the flexibility in early stage concept design and the incredible accuracy in manufacture to ensure that every Riviera is built to world standard,” says Dan.



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