Improved Production Engineering Management Tools

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Project Participants: General Dynamics Electric Boat

Project Start: April 2009

Shipbuilders are constantly striving to eliminate waste from their production processes. Often, this waste is nothing more than downtime due to an unavailable resource or a scheduling conflict. The resulting delay can jeopardize delivery dates and drive up costs associated with the labor overtime and short fused emergency work necessary to meet construction milestones. General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) identified the need to improve upon planning and scheduling processes for construction of the VIRGINIA-Class Submarine (VCS). EB developed tools that have the ability to collect many types of manufacturing data from several sources and integrate that information to point out obstacles and identify best solutions for manufacturing processes based on critical and often limited resources. Previous systems allowed planners to schedule resources, work sites, and even additional personnel, but these systems lacked the capability to digest the multiple planning efforts in such a way that could point out possible overburdening or unavailability of those resources. The resources in question range from certain cranes or forklifts, special tools, to potentially a limited number of facilities that can accommodate the nature of certain tasks (e.g., high bays). The objective of this project was to give production control planners a complete picture when scheduling their efforts so that they would have visibility on not only their projects, but also on the resources they would need to complete those projects.

The project team defined the necessary requirements for the improved management system and developed the backbone of the system. The software development plan was defined and the team developed a series of software releases; each one adding a new variable, level of complexity, and capability. The five planned releases were completed, which has enabled the viewing of build plans and their effect on critical assets and resources, the balancing of critical resources, facilitating development of long and short-range level loaded production schedules, and an enhanced user interface to aid planners and production controllers in the planning of labor resources. Additionally, planners now have the ability to create “what-if” scenarios by adding or removing resources and immediately realizing the impact of such changes. As a result of the successful execution of the project, EB is committed to deploying the Improved Production Engineering Management tools and database in the 4th Quarter 2011.

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