Customer Story

Seaspan Shipyards Charts a Course for Smoother PLM Waters with Aras

 Customer Story – Seaspan
3,000 employees


  • Needed a single source of truth for data
  • Management of multiple project phases at one time
  • Change management across the life of a shipbuilding project
  • Managing geographically dispersed teams and enabling collaboration
  • An ecosystem with accurate, up-to-date project data is required to avoid changes, delays, and increased costs


Deploy Aras Innovator with a two-pronged approach: Create a unified data source and deploy effective change management


  • Embraced document-centric and then product-data-centric PLM
  • Centralized resource planning
  • Effective change management
  • Improved dispersed workforce management
  • Single source of truth for data with Aras PLM
  • Traceability across the product lifecycle

Seaspan Shipyards is crucial in Canada’s national shipbuilding strategy, operating three facilities in Vancouver and Victoria, BC, Canada. Supporting Canada’s Coast Guard and Navy, Seaspan is renowned globally for overhauling and maintaining various vessels. Seaspan worked with Aras to streamline its product lifecycle management (PLM) approach and enable it to move at the speed of change the maritime industry requires.

“As we change our processes, and as we mature as an organization, Aras can adapt with us… We’re not married to a process that we implemented previously; we can actually back out of that process and reimplement a new process without having to effectively break the whole system. The ability to adapt to our processes as they change and a mature, that flexibility is very helpful.”

Chris Phillips, Director of Digital Shipyards at Seaspan.

Pain Points

Seaspan is pivotal in Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, an initiative launched in 2011 to enhance and update Canada’s Navy and Coast Guard fleets. The Strategy is one of Canada’s largest procurement projects since World War II.

The government designated Seaspan Canada’s West Coast Center of Excellence for shipbuilding as part of this initiative. To meet the increased demands of this expansion and realize its goal of being a world-class maritime organization, Seaspan modernized the three shipbuilding facilities it would use for the government project: Vancouver Shipyards for construction, repair, and retrofitting; Vancouver Drydock for repair and retrofitting; and Victoria Shipyards for overhaul and maintenance services.

At the same time, Seaspan recognized a need to improve its product lifecycle management strategy to keep pace. Change is constant in shipbuilding projects, and having a PLM strategy and platform to keep up with constant change is vital. Scale and rapidly shifting priorities posed challenges when the team managed complex data using only spreadsheets. It was time to modernize.

PLM Requirements

Seaspan established a two-pronged vision for upgrading its PLM strategy. First, it set out to establish a unified data source. This would offer comprehensive visibility into all product information — a “one-stop shop” solution.

Next, Seaspan knew effective change management would be crucial, especially in the dynamic and ever-changing shipbuilding industry. Seaspan’s vision involved leveraging its PLM ecosystem, including 2D and 3D modeling suites and MRP and ERP systems, to fully understand the implications of changes throughout a project’s lifecycle.

Seaspan prioritized effective change management in its PLM vision to address this, aiming to identify change impacts and manage relationships between parts, documents, costs, and schedules.

Additionally, with a shortage of experienced shipbuilders in Canada, Seaspan relies on a global workforce. This highlights the importance of ensuring access to accurate and up-to-date information across the team to ensure consistency and additional changes, delays, and costs.

The Seaspan team knew a disjointed approach wouldn’t be sustainable as their data stores and processes grew in complexity. It began to search for a PLM platform that was easy to use and adaptable to their organization’s specific needs.

“We were seeking a robust document management repository, which would allow us to manage essential design documentation, such as data sheets and design specifications. Seaspan leadership recognized that we needed to leverage our PLM ecosystem in a more controlled manner to become the world-class shipyard that we aspire to be.”

Chris Phillips, Director of Digital Shipyards at Seaspan
  • Unified data source with accurate, up-to-date information
  • Effective change management
  • Ability to integrate various technologies and software
  • User friendly
  • Adaptable

Successes with Aras Innovator

Seaspan chose Aras as its “one-stop shop” and central data repository. When Seaspan first deployed Aras in 2013, it focused on document management, converting physical documents to digital formats. Chris Phillips describes this period (2014–2017) as a learning curve.

Despite challenges, they completed the initial implementation in just three months, followed by two significant upgrades. By 2018, Seaspan shifted its PLM focus from documents to product data, increasing Aras users from 750 to 1,100. This shift aimed to leverage the PLM ecosystem for improved control and to achieve world-class shipyard status.

Seaspan also established a formal PLM program with a steering committee and dedicated resources to manage the PLM ecosystem. The team developed a PLM vision and roadmap aligned with organizational goals.

Seaspan also has a customized requirements management module to manage customer contracts, which are linked to change requests, so all of that information flows through Aras as well.

Results: Sailing into the Future with Aras Innovator

Seaspan established Aras Innovator as a consistent data source, offering comprehensive visibility into all product information. Aras also made change management far more possible, even at the scale required for shipbuilding — when technological advances throughout a two- to three-year build can dramatically alter how the final product comes together.

Seaspan migrated its BOMs from Excel to Aras, creating a master parts catalog and a single location to reference change impact analyses. In Chris Phillips’s words, the project was “transformational.”

The next initiative for Seaspan involves creating a bi-directional interface between its 2D and 3D CAD software and Aras, enabling configuration management directly in Aras and visualization of change impacts. This traceability allows Seaspan to access crucial data directly from the 3D model, facilitating efficient vessel management.

Seaspan’s Victoria facility also provides repair and maintenance services for the Canadian Coast Guard and Navy. As its support needs evolve, Aras’ maintenance management capabilities will meet Seaspan’s future requirements.

Furthermore, Seaspan plans to integrate its MRP system with Aras to streamline part ordering and status tracking, bringing them closer to their vision of a single source of product information.

“With Aras, we managed to control change from the problem reports to the engineering change requests. Using the Aras tools, the workforce and the life cycle is just managed. It makes change management a whole lot easier.”

Maureen Katarama, Supervisor of Shipyards Engineering and Planning Systems