Project Participants: General Dynamics Electric Boat
Project Start: January 2007
General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) successfully piloted a new laser imaging system that enables their Quonset Point facility to automate the layout of attachments during early outfitting stages of VIRGINIA-Class Submarine (VCS) construction. The project team used an innovative laser image projection system to locate and attach over 4,800 electrical and ventilation hangers, installing approximately 8,860 studs in 21 VCS hull segments. A savings of 7,700 man-hours per ship is expected – reducing labor by 85% when compared to the traditional method.
The previous process for locating attachments and penetrations onboard a VCS hull was labor-intensive and lacked automation; however, new layout technologies and the availability of 3D ship design data provided by the OneStop database presented opportunities for considerable reduction in labor hours and cycle time. The OneStop database is a tool that extracts geometric data for the VCS structure and facilitates the planning process.
The GDEB team discovered that image projection technology could automate layout processes, thus significantly reducing the labor hours and span times and eliminating the use of antiquated paper templates and string measurements. Ultimately, the automation was successful and enabled production workers to have direct access to the CAD model information needed to locate and mark points of attachment.
Much of this project’s success can be attributed to its ability to utilize the OneStop CAD Database that was produced under another CNST-funded effort, GDEB’s Product Centric project. This tool enables the extraction of positional data from GDEB’s product model to determine the quantity and specific location information of various attachments.
This project ended in June 2008, but the GDEB project team continues to evaluate additional uses for this technology. The cylindrical shape of the submarine’s hull is ideally suited for this technology, but other naval platforms are also being considered and could result in additional cost savings for the Navy. One technology that was considered by the GDEB team during this project, Indoor Global Positioning System (iGPS), was proposed as part of a follow-on project, Metrology for Automated Hull Layout. This GDEB and CNST project kicked off in November 2008.