Posted on Sep 22, 2020
Ryan Nicoll

Why parts libraries are essential to save time in mooring design

Originally published on

After a disastrous World War 2 naval battle, a lone allied warship was left surrounded behind enemy lines. Vastly outnumbered and outgunned, the situation seemed very grim. Still, the crew came up with a plan to sneak back home: disguise the warship as an island. The crew gathered as much foliage as they could from nearby islands to meticulously cover the entire ship.

A stranded World War 2 allied warship sneakily made its way back home by disguising itself as an island. Picture credit: Wikipedia

They patiently stayed at anchor by day, only travelling at night to avoid detection. To help their disguise, they picked a meandering route that would keep them near other islands on their way. They eventually made their way back to allied territory safely, but it was slow going and took a lot of time.

Now taking a lot of time might make sense in some circumstances, especially when safety is on the line. But in oceanographic mooring design, there’s often a time crunch. Without realizing it, you may be taking a meandering route in your design process. But a parts library can help speed up the process and get you where you need to be with a solid design in your hands much faster. What we’re going to cover is:

1. finding part information

2. avoiding input error

3. starting with a finite pool of parts

First, we’re going to start with finding part information.

It may seem a little counter intuitive

But despite the massive amount of information on the Internet, it can still be hard to find what you need. Equipment suppliers do a great job putting part information on their websites and in catalogues for you to find. But the big problem is that sometimes not all the information you need is on a single technical specification sheet.

Sometimes, the information you need is in more than one spot

This might mean looking at more than one spec sheet just for one component. But complicating this is that sometimes the very layout of your go-to websites can change over time, too, shifting around where you previously found the information you needed.

All of this boils down to a lot of time spent crawling websites looking for key pieces of information. And when you don’t find what you need? You have to play phone or email tag with staff at the equipment supplier to fill the holes in your information.

See a sample snapshot of an equipment supplier website below: Mooring Systems Inc. has a lot of really useful information on their website. But you often need to find more information to make an entire mooring design.

Equipment supplier websites like Mooring Systems, Inc have a lot of useful information for their mooring components

A parts library ready to go saves the time needed to find this information

It saves a lot of time following up with equipment suppliers, trying to fill in the gaps in the information you need. This is definitely a significant aspect of how parts libraries save time in mooring design. But it’s not the only one. This brings us to the next point on reducing input errors.

What do we mean by avoiding input errors?

Avoiding input errors just means making sure you have the right understanding and the right numbers going into your design. When looking at breaking strength, did you confuse metric tons with short tons? Or did you perhaps make a mistake when converting another from one type of units to another?

Input errors may happen if you are rushing to get a design done

Just a typo for a particular input can cause havoc with the design numbers. Did you put in 400kg for net flotation or 4,000kg? Or lbs instead of kg? These input errors can be subtle, yet still have a significant impact on the mooring.

But how does reducing input error save time?

Often, with enough experience, you can get a sense if something seems wrong with the design. Tracking down just where that input error is can take a lot of time. It can leave you scratching your head, pouring over all the inputs in your entire mooring, trying to find what went wrong. Parts libraries significantly reduce these kinds of input errors. This is especially important when you are copying numbers from a technical specification into your mooring design tools.

Of course, nobody wants to make mistakes

While saving time by avoiding input errors is helpful, it’s not something substantial, especially when you are faced with an empty drawing board at the start of your design project. This brings us to the third and final point in how parts libraries help save time: working with a finite pool of parts.

When faced with thousands of choices, it can be easy to freeze up

Why do you freeze up? Your brain wants to evaluate every possible option: you can get analysis paralysis. You can face a similar kind of situation at the start of a mooring project. There are dozens of connector types and sizes, wire sizes, and hundreds of fibre rope materials.

It’s a situation ripe for analysis paralysis

But if you have a finite pool of parts to start with, it helps break you out of this paralysis. You don’t have nearly as many choices to make. You can start clicking together something resembling a mooring and then tweak the design as needed without infinite variation or refinement in the parts. In this way, working with the finite pool of parts in your library saves you time and gets you to the next step.

Will I need a ton of time to get a parts library up and running?

Not necessarily. The benefits start to grow as your parts library grows in size. You don’t need to make one up all at once in a single go. But collecting the information is only the first part. It’s crucial to save the information in a format that makes it easy for you to re-use over and over again. Better yet, if there’s a way you can share this with your team in your group, you all contribute and benefit, spreading the work and benefits around.

So what might a parts library look like?

It depends on what mooring analysis and design tools you’re working with. The most basic form might just be a spreadsheet, or better yet, a cloud spreadsheet that you can easily collaborate with your team for everyone to work with. A Google Sheet with a range of columns for different properties would work well. But there’s also another option that is even more effective.

ProteusDS comes with a Parts Library Editor

ProteusDS comes with a Parts Library Editor. It makes it easy to add new parts, and makes a database file you can share with your colleagues.

ProteusDS Parts Library Editor

But even better is that there’s an Official Parts Library waiting for you to use

You can always make your own local parts libraries with the ProteusDS Parts Library Editor. But in the meantime, we spend a lot of time collecting useful parts information and adding it to the Official Parts Library for everyone to use in their ProteusDS mooring designs.

We went through a few details on how Parts Libraries help out, so now it’s time to review

Even simple mooring designs can be deceptive in the amount of detail that’s involved. This detail comes in the form of all the parts, connectors, and instruments that make up the mooring. Coordinating this information can leave you struggling to get the right information to check your mooring design. It may be obvious that parts libraries save you time in looking up spec sheets. But it also reduces the risk of making an input error when copying new information or incorporating the numbers into your calculations. And then there’s the benefit of having a finite pool of parts to eliminate the chance of analysis paralysis and overwhelm with too much to choose from.

An allied warship hiding out by blending in with other islands. Picture credit: Wikipedia

An allied World War 2 warship disguised as an island could afford to take their time on a meandering route. Now, if you’re working without a parts library, you may without realizing it be taking your time on your own meandering route through your mooring design. Parts libraries will help you click together a design and get to your project’s next step quickly and with confidence.

Next Step

You can do a lot with free ProteusDS functionality in leveraging the Official Parts Library in designing and documenting oceanographic moorings. Read more about what you can do with free functionality in ProteusDS here.

Thanks to Mooring Systems, Inc

Thanks to Lucas and James Cappellini from Mooring Systems Inc. for sharing information on their equipment to incorporate into the ProteusDS Official Parts Library.