Project Participants: General Dynamics Electric Boat
Project Start: August 2017

The U.S. Navy and General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) have a joint initiative to reduce the construction cost of the VIRGINIA Class Submarine (VCS) and COLUMBIA Class Submarine (CLB). The Navy ManTech Program is participating in this initiative with specific focus on improving manufacturing processes for ship construction.

The rise in VCS production rate, VPM construction, and upcoming CLB construction will increase required volume of production for the GDEB Quonset Point Sheet Metal fabrication shop.  If this is higher production need is not addressed, the risk is high that sheet metal shop production will cause future delays in the in the overall shipbuilding schedule.  The 10-year-old sheet metal shop must be evaluated and modernized.  Initially, the sheet metal fabrication process can be streamlined with implementation of automated manufacturing engineering tool(s) and the development of manufacturing product data from the 3D product model.

The Sheet Metal Modernization project will optimize the sheet metal shop by maximizing benefit in shop efficiency, new and proficient designs, and an error proofing system. The first objective is to reduce the touch time required by the lofting group who assigns appropriate “sketch details” to assist in the manufacturing of parts on Build Authority data. The second objective is to make shop floor improvements that will increase efficiencies.  Models and/or analysis methods to evaluate the impact of proposed shop changes do not currently exist and are needed to validate the current and future states of the sheet metal shop. Lastly, machine technologies and capabilities will be evaluated and compared to existing equipment resulting in a plan that will expand shop capabilities and reduce span time. The project will focus on, but not be limited to, sheet metal assembly, cutting and punching technologies, and forming and bending capabilities.

The project will be executed in two phases.  Phase I will be focused on making a comparison of current shop capabilities to potential future changes along with initial development of the Manufacturing Engineering Tool(s) or a NX Application.  Phase II will design and develop potential future state shop alternatives and include a process model-based evaluation. Development of the sheet metal manufacturing engineering software application(s) will continue and a prototype application will be demonstrated and delivered.