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Electric Boat (EB) has successfully piloted a new laser imaging system that enables EB’s Quonset Point facility to automate the layout of attachments during early outfitting stages of VIRGINIA-Class Submarine(VCS) construction. The EB project team used an innovative laser image projection system to locate and attach over 2,300 electrical and ventilation hangers, installing approximately 4,500 studs in 13 of the 22 VCS hull cylinders. Based on the completed cylinder pilots, a savings of 7,700 man-hours per ship is expected – reducing labor by 85% compared to the traditional method. The current process for locating attachments and penetrations onboard a VCS hull is labor-intensive and lacks automation. However, new layout technologies and the availability of 3D ship design data provided by the OneStop database in digital format presented opportunities for considerable reduction in labor hours and cycle time. The EB team discovered that image projection technology can automate layout processes and significantly reduce the labor hours and span times by drastically reducing the use of paper templates and string measurements. The system’s ultimate goal is to automate the layout of attachments during early outfitting stages by enabling production workers direct access to the CAD model information needed to locate/mark points of attachment. Much of this project’s success can be contributed to its ability to utilize the OneStop CAD Database that was produced under another CNST-funded effort, EB’s Product Centric project. This tool enables the extraction of positional data from EB’s product model to determine the quantity and specific location information of various attachments. The EB project team is continuing to evaluate additional uses of this technology, and in future pilots will include attachment points for piping, sound damping and other fixed point attachments. The cylindrical shape of the submarine’s hull is ideally suited to this technology, but other ship construction applications are also being considered and could result in cost savings for other Navy construction programs.
About CNST: This project, completed in June 2008, was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and sponsored by Navy ManTech’s Center for Naval Shipbuilding Technology (CNST). CNST is a Navy ManTech Center of Excellence, chartered by ONR to identify, develop and deploy, in U.S. shipyards, advanced manufacturing technologies that will reduce the cost and time to build and repair Navy ships.
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