May 5, 2019

NO ONE WILL MISS JOBS:

Robots and Lasers Are Bringing Shipbuilding into the Digital Age (MARCUS WEISGERBER, 5/05/19, Defense One)

When the USS George Washington took shape here in the late 1980s, endless paper blueprints guided the welders and shipfitters of Newport News Shipbuilding. Now, with the aircraft carrier back in a drydock for its midlife overhaul, shipyard workers are laser-scanning its spaces and bulkheads.

They're compiling a digital model of the 104,000-ton carrier, which will allow subsequent Nimitz-class projects to be designed and planned on computers. That will help bring the shipyard's carrier-overhaul work in line with its digital design-and-manufacturing processes that are already speeding up construction and maintenance on newer vessels.

Newport News executives say these digital shipbuilding concepts are revolutionizing the way ships are designed and built.

"We want to leverage technology, learn by doing and really drive it to the deckplates," Chris Miner, vice president of in-service carriers, said during a tour of the shipyard. This is the future. This isn't about if. This is where we need to go." [...]

Parts for the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80) -- the third Ford-class carrier -- are being built digitally. Data from the ship's computerized blueprints are being fed into machines that fabricate parts.

"We're seeing over 20 percent improvement in performance," Miner said.

When the Navy announced it would buy two aircraft carriers at the same time, something not done since the 1980s, James Geurts, the head Navy acquisition, said digital design would contribute to "about an 82 percent learning from CVN79 through to CVN 81" -- the second through fourth Ford ships. Geurts called the savings "a pretty remarkable accomplishment for the team."

In the future, even more of that data will be pumped directly into the manufacturing robots that cut and weld more and more of a ship's steel parts.

"That's the future," Miner said. "No drawings. They get a tablet. They can visualize it. They can manipulate it, see what it looks like before they even build it."

Posted by at May 5, 2019 10:04 AM

  

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