Project Participants: Huntington Ingalls Industries – Newport News Shipbuilding

Project Start: December 2019

Program Offices for VIRGINIA (VCS) and COLUMBIA (CLB) class submarines have directed a reduction in construction costs with the submarine co-build shipyards. Huntington Ingalls Industries – Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), assessed that there is significant opportunity to utilize the field of digital metrology, an integral manufacturing service expected to only grow in greater numbers of processes, tools and products. The objective of this project is to develop a 6 Degrees of Freedom Sensor System (6DOF) to be used by the NNS trades, which will leverage recent advancements in digital measurement hardware to allow the pitch, roll, and azimuth of some specialized targeting to be tracked, measured, and reported in a single measurement alongside of traditional Cartesian X, Y, and Z coordinates.

The NNS Metrology Solutions department performs, on average, 4000+ digital metrology surveys annually. NNS has experienced a consistent rise in demand for metrology services, as digital shipbuilding and manufacturing initiatives such as integrated Digital Shipbuilding (iDS), SmartYard, and Industry 4.0 are driving the production trades and facilities to take advantage of the blending of digital information with real world products. NNS is also pushing for greater leveraging of digital metrology to adjust to an increasingly less experienced workforce. Tradesmen in high skill or specialized trades, e.g. mechanics, fitters, and linesmen, are entering the workforce with less experience than historically expected.  To compensate, one way to make up for the lack of deep mechanical experience in shipbuilding is to transition to a greater reliance on digital instruments and analysis. Additionally, oftentimes metrology activities cannot be carried out in parallel to the construction activities, resulting in periods of time wherein trained metrology personnel are waiting for a process iteration to finish before the supporting measurements, analysis, and reporting can be accomplished. The automation of metrology tasks can significantly reduce the need for metrology personnel to be present throughout the course of a survey and compress the amount of time needed to perform complex analysis and generate reports.

This two-phased, 22-month effort will identify the concept and the requirements, and demonstrate system functionality. The project will develop a 6 DOF Sensor System for NNS Trades use, based on a market survey and vendor down-select. The selected vendor(s) will develop the system in collaboration with NNS guidance, and NNS will create prototypes to test each use case, with emphasis on operational d boundary limits, validated through a comprehensive test plan for the 6 DOF Sensor System.

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