Newly Acquired Heavy Lifting Device Brings Efficiency to the Waterfront
(Source: US Naval Sea Systems Command; issued July 09, 2019)
NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. --- Seeking a way to move industrial plant equipment (IPE) without a forklift or crane, the Industrial Engineering Department (Code 983) began researching a heavy lifting device that could be operated with a small team to increase efficiency for the workforce.

“When we’re moving IPEs on the waterfront, we have to follow standard operating procedures when utilizing crane services,” said Code 983 Mon Kwong. For each lift, a team would be assembled featuring seven Lifting and Handling (Code 700) personnel, two Code 900F.12 maintenance mechanics, and a Code 983 engineer. A lengthy process would then begin including drafting lifting sketches, approvals being routed, and coordinating the team to build a lift plan and oversee the project.

In addition, lifting IPEs are considered overhead functions and take a backseat to production work, so that extends the length of time to get the job done. “We would see constant delays which cause labor-hour increases, excessive down-time, missed transportation deadlines, and disruption of the entire planning process. We accomplish less work this way in the longest amount of time which is a lose-lose for everyone involved.”

Another method to move heavy equipment throughout the shipyard is large capacity forklifts, but with their size, they are unable to navigate the corridors of the facilities to gain access to the equipment. In addition, the weight of the forklift can often exceed the floor load limits. For Code 983, this was not the answer they needed to get the job done.

“We researched a device that would fit our specifications for our waterfront and we found the Hilman TK-EVO,” said Kwong. The TK-EVO is a battery-operated, remote-controlled powered crawler used for heavy load transportation. With a more compact size and only weighing less than 500 pounds, the machine is able to traverse the corridors and narrow pathways with ease with an operator using a wireless hand-held controller. It can lift up to 20-ton loads by itself and up to 40-ton loads with the rear roller units that were included. In addition, the unit comes with four powered hydraulic toe jacks used to lift the IPEs and place them on the main crawler and roller units. “We wanted to see this unit in action and see if it fit our needs," added Kwong.

Hilman came into the shipyard to provide a demonstration of the equipment, the team fitting a HAAS VF-2 CNC Milling Machine onto the TK-EVO and using it to transfer the machine from the first floor to the third floor of the toolmakers building. The machine in question weighed approximately 9,500 pounds. The device handled the load and was able to maneuver onto the freight elevator and through the narrow passageways. The entire operation was completed within four hours and only required two mechanics for fitting the machine and one operator at the controls. The team was thrilled with the results and purchased the device.

“It’s very simple to control and it’s instantaneous to do what I want it to,” said Production Machinery Mechanic Ethan Holland who operated the device. “This makes it a lot more efficient and safer to perform these heavy lifts and I think this device is a great addition to our arsenal.”

“My guys are able to do the lifts themselves safely and we don’t have to rely on the processes and procedures for crane lifts like we had in the past,” said Equipment and Tooling Manager Laura Herrin. “We are already planning out our lifts within the facilities with this new equipment and how it will greatly save us time, cost, and keep the workflow going. We love it!”

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Eye on Innovation: Making Huge Strides in Virtual Reality at Norfolk Naval Shipyard
(Source: US Naval Sea Systems Command; issued July 09, 2019)
NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. --- Imagine conducting ship checks and training aboard a ship without ever leaving your office. At Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), this has become a reality thanks to virtual reality.

NNSY's Radiological Control Special Projects and Refueling Division (Code 105.26) has collaborated with the Nuclear Fluid Systems and Mechanical Engineering Division (Code 2320), the Nuclear Refueling Engineering Division (Code 2370), and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) to create laser scans of vessels and develop virtual training simulations for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) workforce.

“We have worked with HII to build the point cloud for USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), taking 90 to 100 individual scans of the ship to build a virtual replica of the ship,” said Aerospace Engineer Christopher Snider. “These scans are sewn together to develop an accurate (to an eighth of an inch depending on the post production of the scans) replica and we can perform ship checks onboard the Stennis in a timely manner. Ship checks can take hours onboard the vessel, maneuvering the inner works of the ship to get where we need to go. This option doesn’t completely remove onboard ship checks from the equation but it does provide an 80 to 90 percent effective way to complete the work.”

Both NNSY and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) have the technology for laser scanning and there are currently efforts being done to scan all vessels at America’s Shipyard.

“Unlike hand drawings which don’t provide us the whole picture, these scans are a snapshot in time that shows us every component, every measurement,” said Snider. “We can show those with a need-to-know the different areas and show them what work is being done onboard. It’s a valuable innovation.”

In addition to the point cloud scans, Snider and Computer Engineer Daniel Stith have been hard at work developing a virtual reality training simulation for worker qualifications for Code 105 from the ground-up.

“Our training for our workers can be pretty expensive and time-consuming, requiring individual instructors for the trainees and consumables purchased for each mockup. Plus once one run-through is completed, we have to reset the mockup which can take hours or even days depending on the size,” said Snider. “With virtual reality, we’ve developed our own training modules for our folks so they can have that training experience in real time. They are able to make mistakes without any real world consequences and learn from them. It provides the repetition for the students and the ability to see their results in real time so they can address them at that moment. And when we need to reset, all we have to do is press a button.”

“We began getting our equipment in late 2018 and have been showing our efforts to as many people as possible so we can all take a hard look at how virtual reality can benefit the shipyard and the fleet,” said Stith. “In addition to the controllers, we also have a hands-free model as well as a walking rig to simulate walking during the training to make everything feel more real for the trainee.”

“Virtual reality isn’t going to be a replacement for all our training platforms but we want to see how it works for our trainees and what we can do to improve the simulations we develop,” said Snider. “We’re also looking into more technology and controllers to help make the simulation feel as real as possible for them. We want this to be intuitive and something we can improve with their input.”

The simulation is currently in small-scale implementation at the shipyard as the team continues to build its simulations to fit the needs to the trainers.

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