Virtual Reality Inspection of Piping Systems

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Project Participants: General Dynamics Electric Boat

Project Start: September 2018

Program Offices for VIRGINIA (VA), VIRGINIA Payload Module (VPM) and COLUMBIA (CLB) class submarines have directed a reduction in construction costs. The current piping inspection processes are largely manually planned and executed which cause significant duplication of efforts and re-work. In addition, the workforce at General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) has an increasing number of inexperienced workers as the  knowledgeable veteran workers continue to retire. In order for the new workers to be familiar with inspection processes, as well as work efficiently, they need to learn the layout of the submarine (which consists of 2 million components) in a format conducive to a new workforce.

The Virtual Reality Inspection of Piping Systems project will introduce a new process and innovative tool set into the business of inspecting ship’s piping systems. The project will replace paper piping schematics and crayon-colored engineering drawings with model-based VR.  In the future process, the inspection planner/ supervisor will begin a VR session prior to assigning inspection work. The VR will highlight planned inspection work in a full-scale immersive session that mocks up the piping system itself and all its immediate surroundings within the ship 3D environment. The planner/ supervisor will decide how to allocate inspection work based on system display of current system installation and inspection statuses.

The 9-month effort will examine the current process for piping inspection at Electric Boat in order to identify the set of gaps within the process to achieve the future process. The project team will design and develop the virtual reality session management system which will provide the capability of programmatically selecting the appropriate contextual geometry and determine the level of detail to be rendered. In addition, the program will provide the ability to indicate the status of the relevant installation and inspection work to give planners up-to-date real time data for effective and accurate inspection planning. Finally, the new system will create inspection work assignments within the VR system. This includes developing the interface to the Interactive Work Instruction, a system developed under a ManTech project Mobile Computing.

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